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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
76.

myopinion    

RIP Richard Dawson...you were my favorite Family feud host.

871 days ago
77.

farbster    

I loved him the best on Match Game - totally remember watching that show as a kid.

871 days ago
78.

harv    

I thought he died years ago?

871 days ago
79.

There's a problem here    

There is no better eulogy of his legacy than the words of his son. RIP Richard Dawson, you were a rich man, indeed. Godspeed.

871 days ago
80.

SkaiLimit    

Wow...it amazes me how he touch so many generations!!!! Rest In Peace Mr. Dawson, you will be missed!!! Sending Prayers for the family at this time, he will be missed!!!!

871 days ago
81.

lcmb    

Seemed like a good guy.

RIP.

871 days ago
82.

Chia    

I will so miss this man. Loved him in Hogan's Heroes.

Rest in peace Richard.

871 days ago
83.

jpm4444    

This guy was loved by celebs and fans alike. Totally humble and always appreciative.

He called his career luck, but it wasn't. He was very funny and talented.

RIP to Richard Dawson.

871 days ago
84.

Brad     

He was an earlier day PERVERT. Grabbin and kissing all of the woman made us sick.

871 days ago
85.

Tonia    

Really don't care if Richard Dawson went to the pearly gates. All he want to do on Family Feud is kiss the damn women. Make contestants mad. No sympathy all about this guy. I don't know anything about his private life even he was good Father. RIP TO THE KISSER! GOD BLESS THE FAMILY! NO PRAYERS AT ALL!!!!!!!

871 days ago
86.

Me    

Richard Dawson died 16 years to the day of his successor, Ray Combs (another great Family Feud host), who committed suicide in 1976. RIP, Richard. You were hilarious.

871 days ago
87.

Googie    

Than you for all the pleasant memories, You were the master of ceremonies for hundred of hours of laughter.

871 days ago
88.

Tony1011    

The article has Richard as Capt. Newkirk which is incorrect his character name was Corporal Newkirk on Hogan’s Hero’s

RIP Richard

871 days ago
89.

phil    

he was cpl newkirk the safecracker

871 days ago
90.

kt    

AWWW!! Rip!!

871 days ago
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