Edit
Richard Dawson Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trade Mark (4) | Trivia (58) | Personal Quotes (5)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 20 November 1932Gosport, Hampshire, England, UK
Date of Death 2 June 2012Los Angeles, California, USA  (complications related to esophageal cancer)
Birth NameColin Lionel Emm
Nicknames Dickie
The Kissing Bandit
Kissyface
Height 5' 9" (1.75 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Richard Dawson was born Colin Lionel Emm on November 20, 1932 in Gosport, Hampshire, 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. In the late 1950s, Richard met a British actress named Diana Dors. On April 12, 1959, while in New York for an appearance on The Steve Allen Plymouth Show (1956), the two were married. Richard and Diana's first child, a son named Mark Dawson, was born in 1960, and a second son, Gary Dawson, was born in 1962. Richard and Diana separated in 1964 and eventually divorced in 1967. When Richard moved to the United States, he began acting on the well-known series, Hogan's Heroes (1965), in 1965. Richard played the lovable British Corporal Peter Newkirk. The show ended in 1971. Not long after that, in 1973, he became a panelist on Match Game 73 (1973) and remained there until 1978.

While still on "Match Game", he hosted his own show, which he is most remembered by, called Family Feud (1976). His trademark, kissing all the female contestants, was one of the things that made the show a warm and friendly program, along with his quick wit, subtle jokes, and ability to make people feel at ease with being on camera. In 1987, Richard co-starred with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the science fiction action movie The Running Man (1987). Richard portrayed an egotistical game show host, Damon Killian, whom many say was a mirror image of himself at one time or another, during his real-life career.

When Richard was 61, he hosted the third incarnation of "Family Feud" in 1994, but had only a short run. On April 6, 1981, the Johnson family appeared on "Family Feud" and Richard was introduced to 27-year-old Gretchen Johnson. They had a daughter, Shannon Dawson (Shannon Nicole Dawson), in 1990, and were married in 1991. They were still married and reside in Beverly Hills, California. Richard narrated TV's Funniest Game Show Moments (1984) on Fox in early 2000. On Thanksgiving Day, November 23rd, 2000, he hosted a "Family Feud" marathon, which was filmed in 1995. Some people hear the name "Richard Dawson" and may not know who you're talking about. But say his name, followed by his famous quote "Survey said...!" or mention "Newkirk on Hogan's Heroes (1965)", and they're sure to know who you mean. Richard Dawson died at age 79 of complications from esophageal cancer on June 2, 2012.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Lisa Hansen, RichardDawsonFan@aol.com

Spouse (2)

Gretchen Johnson (1991 - 2 June 2012) (his death) (1 child)
Diana Dors (12 April 1959 - 1966) (divorced) (2 children)

Trade Mark (4)

Often closed the show with the phrase, "Love ya, we'll see you here on the Feud."
Kissed the female contestants, earning him the nickname "The Kissing Bandit"
Performing a Donald Duck impersonation
The catchphrase - "Survey Says!"

Trivia (58)

Joined the Merchant Marines at 14 and stayed for 3 years.
Hosted Thanksgiving Day "Family Feud Marathon" in 1995, aired November 23rd, 2000.
Became a United States citizen in 1984 and showed his passport and photo to America during the intro to a Family Feud (1976) episode.
Met his second wife Gretchen when she was a contestant on Family Feud (1976) in 1981.
Hosted Family Feud (1976) for a total of ten years: nine consecutive years (1976-1985) and one non-consecutive year (the 1994-1995 season).
Has one brother. Father with second wife of actress Shannon Dawson.
Was a friend of the late Bill Bixby, who appeared as a panelist on the pilot of Richard's trashy television game show, Cop Out! (1972), and on Masquerade Party (1974).
During an interview early in the Family Feud (1976) run, he revealed that he enjoyed wearing and collecting T-shirts (a huge fad in the 1970s). Shortly after, the custom began of families on Feud presenting him a shirt early in the game, usually during the "introduce the family members" portion. As a result, he has one of the largest collections of unique and rare T-shirts in the world.
Won the Password All-Stars (1961) All-Stars Grand Master Championship in 1975 against Betty White, Bill Bixby, and Hal Linden. He gave his winnings to a children's charity.
Picked up the nickname "The Kissing Bandit" during the initial run of Family Feud (1976) because he greeted every attractive female contestant with a kiss.
His second wife, Gretchen, has appeared as a contestant on Win Ben Stein's Money (1997).
Best-remembered by the public for his role as Corporal "Peter Newkirk" in the television series, Hogan's Heroes (1965) and as the host of Family Feud (1976).
Before Family Feud (1988) was revived in 1988, producer Mark Goodson, would not allow him to come back as host, because of conflicts with the producers. Instead, he wanted to restart the show with a new host, so he hired Ray Combs. After Goodson's death in December 1992, his son Jonathan M. Goodson took over the show's production company and, in a failed attempt to boost the declining ratings, replaced Combs with Dawson in 1994.
On the final week of Family Feud (1976), his devoted fan and friend, Alex Trebek appeared on the show.
Before he was an actor, comedian and a game show host, he worked as a waiter.
When the third incarnation of Family Feud (1999) debuted, comedian Louie Anderson invited him to come on the premiere episode to give him his blessing, but he refused.
After his divorce from Diana Dors, he continued to send flowers to his ex-wife on her birthday, every year, and always defended her.
He was offered the lead role as Captain, Robert Hogan in Hogan's Heroes (1965), but he refused it, because his voice did not sound American enough, hence, the role was given to Bob Crane. Dawson was then offered the role of Corporal Peter Newkirk, which he accepted.
Was not the first choice to host the original Family Feud (1976) for ABC, when Mark Goodson found out that Geoff Edwards was under contract with both Chuck Barris and Bob Stewart, hence, he was unavailable to host the show's pilot.
Had 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.
Originated the phrase "Survey says", for Family Feud (1976), which every host after him used as well.
Long before Kathy Najimy would become an actress, she would be one of his winning contestants on a family.
When he replaced Ray Combs as host of Family Feud (1988), a second time in 1994, he made a promise to his daughter that he wouldn't do anymore kissing with the female contestants.
Sons, Mark Dawson and Gary Dawson, and former daughter-in-law, Cathy Hughart Dawson, all worked for Mark Goodson Productions, including Family Feud (1976).
Enjoys singing, golfing and spending time with his family.
While talking with a contestant on Family Feud who happened to be a member of the merchant marine, he mentioned that not only had he run away from home at 14 and joined the merchant marine; his first ship was the Atlantis.
Grandfather of Lauren, Lindsey Dors, Tyler Emm and Emma Rose Dawson.
Is a very good friend of another retired game show host Bob Barker, who was also employed at Mark Goodson Productions, for 35 years, as host of The Price Is Right (1972).
When he went to Plymouth, England, to do rehearsals at a repertoire, he needed printed music for performances.
His father, who was born in America, was a furniture mover, and his mother, who was born in England, was a housewife.
When he moved to Beverly Hills, California, he worked at a nightclub, where he met Carl Reiner, and guest-starred in a The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961) episode titled "Racy, Tracy Rattigan", plus his name appeared as Dick Dawson.
The youngest brother.
When he was growing up, he wanted to work at a dock yard in Portsmouth, England.
Once did an impression of Frankie Laine, upon arrival on a stage in Plymouth, England.
After he died on June 2, 2012, Robert Clary is the only surviving original cast member of Hogan's Heroes (1965).
Was also longtime friends with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Suffered a stroke in 2008 and recovered from it.
Had lived in the same house between 1964 to 2012, which was 48 years to date.
Jack Benny was said to be his idol.
His brother was a ballroom dancer, who also won a lot of awards.
Interred at Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles, California, USA.
Left his role as panelist on Match Game 73 (1973) in 1978, to continue hosting Family Feud (1976) up until its first cancellation of the ABC version in 1985.
Father of Mark Dawson and Gary Dawson.
Died on the same date, 16 years after Ray Combs committed suicide. Both Dawson and Combs hosted Family Feud (1976).
Released a psychedelic 45rpm single including the songs "His Children's Parade" and "Apples & Oranges" on Carnation Records.
Ranked #14 on Life's 15 Best Game Show Hosts.
Before Paula Abdul became a successful singer and dancer, she worked with him on a movie, which she danced in, called The Running Man (1987).
After the cancellation of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (1967), producer Mark Goodson signed him to serve as one of the regular panelists alongside Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly on Match Game 73 (1973).
Met future game show announcer Gene Wood on an episode of Beat the Clock (1970). Dawson helped a young contestant transfer a candy cane in each other pockets, from apron to apron. This was before they worked together, as host/announcer team on the long-running ABC game show, Family Feud (1976).
Has worked with Julie London on two shows: Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (1967) and Match Game 73 (1973).
Ranked #5 as GSN's Top 10 Game Show Hosts of All Time.
After his role as host of Family Feud (1988), he retired from hosting game shows at 62.
After Dawson left the second incarnation of Match Game 73 (1973), fellow game show host, Bob Barker sat in his former place for the entire week, on the first week.
Mentor of son Gary Dawson.
TV Guide was creating a "Game Show" cover in the 1980s to highlight the resurgence of game shows since their downfall in the 1950s scandals. All the current game show hosts were invited to do a group picture but Richard Dawson declined because he felt he rated his own cover. They continued and printed the cover without him.
Did a farewell speech on the final episode of the original Family Feud (1976).
Was going to star in a sitcom for ABC, that didn't sell in the late 1970s.

Personal Quotes (5)

Be nice to each other. You can make a whole day a different day for everybody.
[When the male hunks thought they'd won the game] It's wonderful to win, but don't get cocky about it!
I'm a hustler. I'm a smartass, but I love people.
They kept us on the air probably a year more than they should have. We were burying them. [in 1985, on ABC's cancellation of Family Feud (1976)].
It's important to me that on 'Family Feud' I could kiss all the people. It sounds crazy but when I first came here Petula Clark was on a show with Nat King Cole and he kissed her on the cheek and eighty-one stations in the South canceled him. I kissed black women daily and nightly on 'Family Feud' and the world didn't come to an end, did it?

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page