has died from esophageal cancer at 79, according to a statement released on the Facebook page of his son, Greg Dawson, “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 Dawson was born on November 20, 1932 in Gosport, Hampshire, England. He joined the Merchant Marines at age 14 and served for three years. He also earned additional income during that time as a boxer. He married Diana Dors in 1959. They had two sons- Mark and Gary. They were divorced in 1967. He then married to Gretchen Johnson. They met while Johnson was a contestant on the “Family Feud.” Together they had a daughter named Shannon Nicole Dawson.
Dawson kissed female contestants on the “Feud”, earning him the nickname "The Kissing Bandit.” When he hosted the second run of “Family Feud” Dawson made a promise to Johnson not kiss anyone. “I kissed them for luck and love, that’s all,” Dawson told The Associated Press.
According to IMBd, Dawson "had the five biggest winners in the 9 years of hosting the ABC version of "Family Feud" (1976), each of them were all 5x undefeated families: in first place, the Rizzo Family had won $33,000+ during the last season of the show, in second place, the McManus Family had won $30,204 in 1984, in third place, the Larkey Family had won $29,170 during the first season of the show, in fourth place, the Tack Family had won $29,197 in 1980, and in fifth place, the Panatonni Family had won $29,916 in 1981."
The Town Talk reports, “Dawson won a daytime Emmy Award in 1978 as best game show host. Tom Shales of The Washington Post called him "the fastest, brightest and most beguilingly caustic interlocutor since the late great Groucho bantered and parried on 'You Bet Your Life.'" The show was so popular it was released as both daytime and syndicated evening versions.”
Accoring to IMDb, Dawson became a United States citizen in 1984. During an episode of the "Family Feud, he shows off his passport and photo. He was offered the lead role as Captain Robert Hogan in "Hogan's Heroes" (1965), but did not sound American enough, hence, the role was given to Bob Crane. Dawson was later offered the role of Corporal Peter Newkirk.
"The survey says..." Mr. Dawson you will truly be missed!