Richard Dawson, Family Feud Host, Dead at 79

Richard Dawson, legendary "Family Feud" game show host, died Saturday night in Los Angeles from esophageal cancer, reports USA Today. He was 79.   Dawson's son, Gary, announced his father's death on Facebook Sunday morning: "It is with a very...
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Richard Dawson, legendary "Family Feud" game show host, died Saturday night in Los Angeles from esophageal cancer, reports USA Today. He was 79.   Dawson's son, Gary, announced his father's death on Facebook Sunday morning: "It is with a very...
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Richard Dawson, legendary "Family Feud" game show host, died Saturday night in Los Angeles from esophageal cancer, reports USA Today. He was 79. Dawson's son, Gary, announced his father's death on Facebook Sunday morning: "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..." Before Dawson's decade-long stint on "Family Feud," which he hosted from 1976-1985, and again from 1994-1995, the British entertainer was famously known as POW Corporal Peter Newkirk on the 1960s sitcom "Hogan's Heroes." He was also remembered for being on "The Match Game" and appearing as a sinister game show host on Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1987 flick, The Running Man. When Dawson ended his successful run as the original host of "Family Feud" in 1985, he expressed his gratitude with an unintentional joke: "I've had the most incredible luck in my career," he told his audience. "I never dreamed I would have a job in which so many people could touch me and I could touch them." (Considering he was known for kissing thousands of female contestants over the course of his hosting duties, the latter part of his statement made the crowd break out into laughter.) Dawson is survived by his wife, Gretchen Johnson, their daughter, and two sons from a previous marriage to British sex symbol, Diana Dors. Interestingly enough, Johnson was originally a contestant on the game show in 1981 when she and Dawson met. The two had been married since 1991. As a promise to his wife, he stopped kissing female contestants after the show's second run.