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'Family Feud' host Richard Dawson dies

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 4th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

With a wry expression, he belted out lines this shade of naughty on American television for decades. British actor and comedian Richard Dawson has died from cancer at the age of 79.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "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," Richard's son, Gary Dawson said in an Internet posting.

Dawson first gained attention playing a British prisoner of war, Corporal Newkirk, in the 1960s comedy show "Hogan's Heroes." While that TV series has been granted a certain unwelcome notoriety - with its historically inaccurate depiction of Nazi captors as benevolent bumblers, the show made the ratings top 10 in its first season, 1965-66, and ran until 1971.

Dawson later became a regular on game shows, entertaining studio audiences with innuendos on "Match Game." Dawson later became host of "Family Feud," in which two families competed to see which one could more accurately predict Americans' answers to odd survey questions.

Dawson become notorious for kissing every female contestant he could get his hands on "Family Feud," which he hosted from 1976 to 1985 and again from 1988 to 1995. He won an Emmy award in 1978.

At the time the show first bowed out in 1985, executive producer Howard Felsher estimated that Dawson had kissed "somewhere in the vicinity of 20,000."

"I kissed them for luck and love, that's all," Dawson said at the time.

Dawson eventually married one of the contestants he met on the show, Gretchen Johnson, in 1991. She survives him, as does their daughter, Shannon. He is also survived by two sons, Gary and Mark Dawson, from his previous marriage to Hollywood starlet Diana Dors.

Dawson was born Colin Lionel Emm in 1932 in Gosport, England. When he was 14, he joined the Merchant Marines and served for three years. During that time, he made money boxing. He had to lie about his age and remain tough so the older guys would not hassle him.

Dawson played a game show host with a far deadlier intent in the comedic science-fiction satire "The Running Man," with Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987.

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