Richard Dawson, Dead at 79
Richard Dawson, the English actor best known as the host of Family Feud, and for playing Corporal Newkirk in the Hogan’s Heroes, has died, ABC News has confirmed. He was 79.
Dawson had a small role in the Dick Van Dyke Show, but his U.S. TV breakthrough came with Hogan’s Heroes, the highly-rated sitcom set in a German POW camp during World War II. It ran from 1965 to 1971.
After Hogan’s Heroes was canceled, Dawson became a regular on Laugh-In, and the New Dick Van Dyke Show. He was also a panelist on the game show I’ve Got a Secret, and subsequently on Gene Rayburn’s Match Game ’73, alongside Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly. But Dawson really hit game show gold when he was tapped to host Family Feud, which he hosted from 1976 to 1985. After the show went into syndication, he returned to host the final 1995 season.
Family Feud became one of the most iconic game shows in TV history and Dawson himself became a household name, and earned the nickname “The Kissing Bandit” for his habit of kissing all the female contestants. He ended up marrying one of those female contestants, Gretchen Johnson, who he met when she competed on the show in 1981.