Richard Dawson, renowned English-American actor and comedian, has passed away at the age of 79. He was suffering from medical complications and was hospitalized at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. He had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer.
Dawson was known for his role as Corporal Peter Newkirk on "Hogan's Heroes". He also received a lot of acclaim for hosting the game show, "Family Feud", from 1976 to 1985 and 1994 to 1995 and for being a regular panelist on the 1970s version of "Match Game" on CBS from 1973 to 1978.
"Family Feud" was an American television game show created by Mark Goodson and Bill Todman. It revolved around a very interesting concept where two families competed to name the most popular responses to a survey question posed to 100 people. Dawson made the show even more entertaining with his humor and natural hosting skills. He won a Daytime Emmy for the Best Game Show Host in 1978 for hosting "Family Feud".
Several renowned critics had praised him for his talent and ability to handle audiences so naturally. According to Sun Times, Tom Shales of the Washington Post referred to Richard Dawson as “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 that it was released as both daytime and syndicated evening versions.
Those who have seen the show must remember Richard Dawson for one of his trademarks. He used to kiss all the female contestants to make his show appear a warm and friendly program. A few critics even named him the "Kissing Bandit" for this habit. Show’s executive producer at that time, Howard Felsher, estimated that Mr. Dawson had kissed “somewhere in the vicinity of 20,000.” Dawson jokingly responded, “I kissed them for luck and love, that’s all.”
Richard Dawson took a break from the show and returned to the syndicated edition, replacing Ray Combs and this was the final season of the second re-run. He was immensely missed when he wasn’t around, to an extent that upon his comeback, he received a 25-second standing ovation when he walked on set. Afterwards he said, "If you do too much of that, I won't be able to do a show for you because I'll cry." Quite interestingly, he didn’t kiss the female contestants this time, because he had made a commitment with his wife and daughter.