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Richard Dawson

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Richard Dawson with his son Gary

Richard Dawson with his son Gary

Richard Dawson (born November 20, 1932, died June 2, 2012) was a United Kingdom-born actor and game show host. He was best known as the original host of the game show, Family Feud.

Biography Edit

He was born in Gosport, England as Colin Emm. At 14, he ran away from home, joining the Merchant Marine, where he took up a short career as a boxer. At 18, he auditioned for a small theatre company called the Barry O'Brien Players, where he discovered that he liked working on the stage. Two years later, he started performing as a stand-up comedian. During this time, he started to use the stage name Richard 'Dickie' Dawson, which he later changed to his legal name.

In the 1950s, he worked on the British stage, before appearing along with his new wife and British sex symbol, Diana Dors, on the The Diana Dors Show in 1959. Richard moved to the United States in the early 1960s. He started to appear in films, and on television shows, such as The Longest Day, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Outer Limits, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and King Rat, while also co-hosting a L.A. talk show and performing as a night club comedian. His appearance in King Rat lead to an audition as the lead character in the new Hogan Heroes television show. Richard was unable to sound American enough to play Colonel Hogan, but was instead given the role of Corporal Peter Newkirk. He played Newkirk for the next six years, along with appearing in the films, Munsters Go Home! and The Devil's Brigade, as well as trying his hand at script writing. It was reported that he slept only a few hours a day, while consuming vast quanities of coffee and cigarettes.

After Hogan's Heroes went off the air, he appeared on such shows as Love American Style, The Odd Couple, McCloud, and McMillan and Wife, as well as becoming a regular cast member of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, The New Dick Van Dyke Show and the game shows Match Game 73 and I've Got a Secret. He was also the host for the short-lived game show, Masquerade Party. Then, in 1976, he debuted as the host of the game show Family Feud, which soon became one of the most popular game shows in television history, and lead to Richard winning an Emmy. He hosted the show from 1976-85, being a very popular host, especially because of his habit of kissing the female contestants on the cheek during the show, although having some off-screen difficulities with the show's executive producer, Mark Goodson. While working on Family Feud, he became a naturalized U.S. citizen, actually showing his passport and photo during one of the episodes.

He next appeared in the 1987 sci-fi film, The Running Man, where he plays the evil, egotistical, dark-sided game-show host Damon Killian, which was a self-parody. It was an outstanding performance. He next hosted an unsold pilot of the revival of the classic game show, You Bet Your Life in 1988. In 1994, he returned as the host of Family Feud, replacing Ray Combs. This lasted for a year. He then retired from acting, later refusing to become the host of the most recent incarnation of Family Feud.

At one time, there was a rumor going around which claimed that Richard had committed suicide after his return as the host of Family Feud had ended in failure. In reality, Ray Combs, the show's second host, and the person whom Richard had replaced in 1994, was the person who had actually committed suicide (in 1996). Richard was living in Beverly Hills, California and is survived by his wife, Gretchen, whom he had met as a Family Feud contestant. He has three children, two by his first wife, the British actress, Diana Dors, whom he divorced in 1966 and has five grandchildren.

He is more popular today, thanks to the reruns of both Hogan's Heroes and the original Family Feud.

Richard Dawson died at the age of 79 from complications of Esophageal cancer on June 2, 2012, at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

Filmography Edit

Game Shows Edit

Notable TV Guest Appearances Edit

  • E! True Hollywood Story playing "Himself" in episode: "Family Feud" 28 July 2002
  • The Tonight Show with Jay Leno playing "Himself" in episode: "Episode #3.159" (episode # 3.159) 8 September 1994
  • Moonlighting playing "Himself" (archive footage) (uncredited) in episode: "Gunfight at the So-So Corral" (episode # 1.2) 5 March 1985
  • Mama's Family playing "Himself" in episode: "Family Feud" (episode # 1.13) 9 April 1983
  • The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson playing "Guest Host" in episode: "Episode dated 7 January 1980" 7 January 1980
  • The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson playing "Guest Host" in episode: "Episode dated 7 December 1979" 7 December 1979
  • Angie playing "Himself" in episode: "Family Feud" (episode # 2.9) 19 November 1979
  • Good Morning America playing "Himself" in episode: "Episode dated 20 March 1979" 20 March 1979
  • The Love Boat playing "Bert Buchanan" in episode: "Accidental Cruise/Song Is Ended, The/Time for Everything, A/Anoushka" (episode # 2.8) 4 November 1978
  • Fantasy Island playing "Harry Beamus" in episode: "Call Me Lucky/Torch Singer" (episode # 1.16) 20 May 1978
  • Tattletales playing "Himself" in episode: "Episode dated 5 September 1978" 5 September 1978
  • The Gong Show playing "Himself" in episode: "Episode #1.1" (episode #1.1) 1976
  • McMillan and Wife playing "Roger Stambler" in episode: "Aftershock" (episode # 5.3) 9 November 1975
  • ABC Late Night" playing "Himself (host)" in episode: "Your Hit Parade's 25th Anniversary" 23 October 1975
  • Match Game PM playing "Himself" in episode: "Episode #1.1" (episode # 1.1) 8 September 1975
  • Showoffs playing "Himself" in episode: "Episode date 8 September 1975" 8 September 1975
  • Showoffs playing "Himself" in episode: "Episode date 28 July 1975" 28 July 1975
  • Celebrity Bowling playing "Himself" in episode: "Episode dated 24 June 1975" 24 June 1975
  • The Odd Couple playing "Richard Dawson" in episode: "Laugh Clown, Laugh" (episode # 5.21) 28 February 1975
  • Rhyme and Reason playing "Himself" in episode: "Pilot" (episode # 1.1) 1 January 1975
  • The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast playing "Himself" in episode: "Celebrity Roast: Dan Rowan and Dick Martin" 22 March 1974
  • Password All-Stars playing "Himself" in episode: "Episode dated 5 November 1973" 5 November 1973
  • The Merv Griffin Show playing "Himself" in episode: "Episode dated 12 September 1973
  • The Vin Scully Show playing "Himself" in episode: "Episode dated 19 February 1973" 19 February 1973
  • The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie playing "Sam Sniperley/Furniture Man" (voice) in episode: "Oliver and the Artful Dodger: Part 2" 28 October 1972
  • The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie playing "Sam Sniperley/Furniture Man" (voice) in episode: "Oliver and the Artful Dodger: Part 1" 21 October 1972
  • Wait Till Your Father Gets Home playing "Actor (voice)" in episode: "The Hippie" (episode # 1.3) 26 September 1972
  • The Merv Griffin Show playing "Himself" in episode: "Episode dated 1 September 1972" 1 September 1972
  • The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson playing "Himself" in episode: "Episode dated 1 September 1972" 1 September 1972
  • Love, American Style playing "Melvin Danger" (voice) in episode: "Love and the Private Eye" (episode # 3.18c) 28 January 1972
  • Love, American Style playing "Danny" in episode: "Love and the Hiccups" (episode # 3.12c) 10 December 1971
  • The Virginia Graham Show playing "Himself" in episode: "Episode dated 13 October 1971"13 October 1971
  • Mantrap playing "Himself" 31 August 1971
  • Love, American Style playing "Rick Jagmund" in episode: "Love and the Groupie" (episode # 2.24b) 12 March 1971
  • McCloud playing "Ted Callender" in episode: "Manhattan Manhunt: Part 2: The Stage Is All the World" (episode # 1.4) 7 October 1970
  • The Game Game playing "Himself" in episode: "Episode dated 13 July 1970" 13 July 1970
  • The Merv Griffin Show playing "Himself" in episode: "Episode dated 6 November 1969" 6 November 1969
  • Della playing "Himself" in episode: "Episode #1.60" (episode # 1.60) 29 August 1969
  • Allen Ludden's Gallery playing "Himself" in episode: "Episode #1.5" (episode # 1.5) 27 June 1969
  • Operation: Entertainment playing "Himself" in episode: "Episode #2.12" (episode # 2.12) 20 December 1968
  • The Donald O'Connor Show playing "Himself" in episode: "Episode dated 20 November 1968" 20 November 1968
  • The Joey Bishop Show playing "Himself" in episode: "Episode #2.218" (episode # 2.218) 23 July 1968
  • Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In playing "Himself - Guest Performer" in episode: "Episode #1.5" (episode # 1.5) 19 February 1968
  • How's Your Mother-in-Law? playing "Himself" in episode: "Episode dated 12 February 1968" 12 February 1968
  • Mr. Terrific playing "Max" in episode: "The Formula Is Stolen" (episode # 1.5) 6 February 1967
  • The Hollywood Palace playing "Himself - Sketch Actor" in episode: "Episode # 3.13" (episode # 3.13) 25 December 1965
  • The Alfred Hitchcock Hour playing "Robert Johnson" in episode: "Anyone for Murder?" (episode # 2.20) 13 March 1964
  • The Outer Limits playing "Oliver Fair" (as Dick Dawson) in episode: "The Invisibles" (episode # 1.19) 3 February 1964
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show playing "Tracy Ratigan" (as Dick Dawson) in episode: "Racy Tracy Ratigan" (episode # 2.27) 3 April 1963
  • The Jack Benny Programplaying "Audience Member sitting next to Jack" in episode: "Jack Meets Max Bygraves" (episode # 13.14) 8 January 1963
  • Juke Box Jury playing "Himself" in episode: "Episode dated 26 September 1959" 26 September 1959
  • The Steve Allen Plymouth Show playing "Himself" (episode # 4.29) 12 April 1959

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