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Richard Dawson, 1932 – 2012

Posted by Chris Bowen on June 3, 2012

Richard Dawson, most famous for his work as the host of the game show Family Feud, has passed away at 79.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my father passed away this evening from complications due to esophageal cancer,” Gary Dawson said in a post on his Facebook page. “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 died Saturday night at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, his son said.

Dawson was the show’s host from its premiere in 1976 until 1985. He also hosted the show’s 1994-1995 season.

Dawson was known and often mocked for his propensity to kiss female contestants, one of which ended up being his second wife Gretchen. He was also known for sometimes losing his composure; the video embedded above is of Dawson’s famous “September” incident from ’81.

Along with Family Feud, Dawson was a favourite guest on the Match Game. He was also Cpl. Peter Newkirk on Hogan’s Heroes, and played evil game show host Damon Killian on the movie adaptation of The Running Man.

Dawson has always been one of my favourite entertainers. Naturally, it’s easy to mock the kissing bandit thing, but what struck me was his sincerity in dealing with people. He explained that his kissing was just him being personal with people, and it was easy to see because he treated his family the same way. Richard Dawson might have been hard to work with, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more natural entertainer, someone so quick with the wit and yet who could toe the line so well of what was proper, especially in the more conservative 70s. If you want to see Dawson at his absolute raunchiest, watch his old Match Game clips on youTube.

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