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Richard Dawson

Dead at 79

6/3/2012 12:30 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

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.


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"


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


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This is so sad. My favorite game show host of all time. I still watch reruns of the Feud because he cracks me up. He will be missed.

838 days ago

Jay W.     

Thanks for the memories ! RIP Richard.

838 days ago


Loved him in Hogan's Hero's, he was the reason I watched family feud, and he made the movie "Running Man" RIP Mr. Dawson, you were one of my favorites.

838 days ago

Grouchy Marps    

He's forcibly french kissing peoples' wives in heaven now.

838 days ago


"He will be missed but always remembered..."

I agree. Richard was truly unabashed and unique.

838 days ago


Awww. That made me sad to hear that. I was just a kid watching him kiss all those ladies! I thought he was such a flirt.

838 days ago


RIP Cpl. Peter Newkirk RAF

838 days ago


Had a long life...

838 days ago

Sean Kelly    

He wasn't a Captain on Hogan's Heroes, he was a Corporeal. Cpl means Corporeal not Captain.

838 days ago

Anthony B    

He was CPL. Newkirk, not CAPT.

838 days ago

Samuel Miller    

I'm a disabled person with an interest in Disability Studies. I'm very saddened to learn of the death of Richard Dawson. "Family Feud" was one of the first game shows to feature a physically disabled person as a contestant.

As I recall, she was a young, attractive female amputee who had lost a leg and walked with the aid of aluminum crutches. She wore a long skirt. Richard Dawson gave her a lovely introduction.

838 days ago


RIP Richard! Lots of happy memories watching you while i was growing up : )

838 days ago


I think it was Cpl not capt. but always enjoyed his talents

838 days ago

leanne greathouse    

my fav family feud was when the lady was asked"in what month can you tell a woman is preg. and she said september. Richard had to stop and fell on the floor laughing. great moment in t.v.

838 days ago


Show me.......CASKET!!!!!!!!!!

838 days ago
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