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Richard Dawson

Dead at 79

6/3/2012 12:30 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
R.I.P.

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Richard Dawson, the legendary host of "Family Feud," has died from complications due to esophageal cancer ... this according to his son. 
 
Gary Dawson posted a Facebook message early this morning that read:

"It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my father passed away this evening from complications due to esophageal cancer. He was surrounded by his family. He was an amazing talent, a loving husband, a great dad, and a doting grandfather. He will be missed but always remembered..."

Dawson hosted "Feud" from 1976-1985, and then from 1994-1995. He was also famous for being a regular on "The Match Game" and for appearing in the classic Arnold Schwarzenegger action film "The Running Man."  One of his biggest roles -- Dawson played Capt. Peter Newkirk on "Hogan's Heros," a wildly popular show in the 60's.

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Dawson was married to Gretchen Johnson ... interesting fact -- he met her when she was part of a contestant family on The Feud and got hitched in 1991. Dawson was famous during the first run of the show for kissing all the female contestants -- he was known as "The Kissing Bandit."  But in the second run, he kissed no one -- a promise he made to Gretchen.

Prior to Gretchen, Dawson was married to Diana Dors, a sex symbol back in the day. They had 2 sons.

Steve Harvey, the current host of "Family Feud," tweeted today, "I have been Blessed because of Richard Dawson's work ...the birth of Family Feud. God Bless You Sir- You Were The Best"

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Dawson in his final episode hosting "Family Feud" in 1985 (before returning 10 years later).

135 COMMENTS

No Avatar
46.

Andrew    

Let's clarify two things, in Hogan's Hero's he was Corporal Newkirk, not "CAPT". and by no means can Running Man be called a classic.

769 days ago
47.

DaveT    

"I abhor grades - if a child does his best, that's all that should be asked" - Richard Dawson.
---
Agreed, public school system is an experiment that failed; judging kid's personal potential in life by a mark on school tests is idiocy.
RIP Richard, good man, wise man.

769 days ago
48.

linda    

Never will forget him as the host on Family Feud. "Survey says"...in his upbeat voice. He had a great personality. Condolences to his family and friends. RIP.

769 days ago
49.

Denver    

Ah yes, the weekend TMZ staff. Cannot be bothered to check when he was married to Diana Dor, so just put the inane "back in the day". That should do it... idiots.

769 days ago
50.

Imperial    

Aw. May he rest in peace.

769 days ago
51.

Rob    

WAIT...this isn't a story about faigs? Why is it on this site?

769 days ago
52.

nycBrit    

Ok, how crazy is it that he met his wife whilst she was a member of a contestant family?

Richard Dawkins... Giving hope to fangirls everywhere!

A wonderful talent, always enjoyable to watch. Rest in Peace, Brother...

769 days ago
53.

maryann Conklin    

So sorry to hear he died loved family feud he had such a great personality.he will be missed my condolences to his family hope he wasn't sick. Rip

769 days ago
54.

Proud2bBlack    

R.I.P. Enjoyed you Richard!

769 days ago
55.

karlew    

I guess a lot of people remember him from Family Feud but he'll always be Newkirk to me. R.I.P. Mr Dawson

769 days ago
56.

Kevin    

He was corporal Newkirk on Hogans Heroes not captain. He will be missed and noone will ever make family feud as fun as he did..He truly was a great actor....

769 days ago
57.

EBL    

http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/2012/06/richard-dawson-rip.html RIP Richard

769 days ago
58.

CMKISS76    

Loved him!! So sad. Can you imagine a game show host today getting away with kissing all the female contestants on the lips? Sad how we've moved backwards as a society. R.I.P Richard, and thank you for all the great memories

769 days ago
59.

bkwardstraveler    

Corporal Peter Newkirk, not CAPTAIN.

"TMZ...We don't need accuracy. If we're not right, our readers are".

Don't forget his time on Rowan and Martins Laugh In and the NEW Dick Van Dyke show.

769 days ago
60.

Mary    

I love him, so sad RIP Richard.

769 days ago
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