Using Match Game (1973) as an inspiration for a new show, Mark Goodson came up with "Fast Company". Fast Company didn't have families, a feud, or surveys but otherwise it was the same show. The show was a pitched to NBC and at the end of the run-though NBC passed on it. Mark Goodson resolved he'd make NBC regret the day they passed on "Fast Company" and took his project to the ABC network. Michael Brockman, then V.P. of Daytime programming of the ABC network, wasn't impressed, but he dealt with _Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions [us]_ before and knew something would happen from the time he saw the show and the time it would go on the air. Goodson continued to tinker with the format, making the contestants family members and changing the name of the game to Family Feud.
The theme song is titled "The Feud". It was originally part of the 1976 music package for The Price Is Right (1972) and often played as music for new cars; it was remixed with banjos added in for a banjo-picking, hillbilly-type theme song.
The first time Richard Dawson kissed a contestant was to calm her down because she was very nervous. Richard told her he was going to do what his mother did for people who were nervous: give them a kiss on the cheek.
There were some objections to Richard kissing strange women on national television. ABC tried to influence the kissing to stop, but Dawson rebelled and said he was going to do it. Mark Goodson asked people to write in and say in favor of kissing or not, the responses were overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the kissing on.
During vacation in Hawaii, Richard's manager called up Howard Felsher and telling him Richard really wants to have his contract reopened and would be mentally incapable from coming back from Hawaii to continue with the show unless the contract would be reopened. Howard advised Mark Goodson to not open the contract and if Dawson decides to quit the show, take the chance and let him quit because the show could stand on its own without Richard Dawson. However, the contract was reopened and Richard received an enormous salary of over $2,000,000 a year. Big bucks for a game show host in the '80s.
At the end of the last show some time was saved for Richard to address the audience and tell poignant set of stories and tell many members of the staff thank you, especially Howard Felsher. At the closing of the final episode, the audience gave Richard a standing ovation. The theme music, "The Feud", wasn't played. The next day Richard called up Cathy Hughart Dawson and told her he wanted everything he said about Howard taken out of the show.
In 1981, tension between host Richard Dawson and producer Howard Felsher reached a boiling point and Richard threw Howard off the set and wanted Mark Goodson to fire him. Goodson decided on a compromise by making Howard an executive producer, thus he would not be on the set anymore. As the shows 7th season was underway in 1982, Richard's daughter-in-law Cathy Hughart Dawson was promoted to Producer.
The sound effects used on this show originally were used on Showoffs (1975). The bell clang for revealing answers was the bell which sounded whenever a teammate guessed the word correctly on "Showoffs". The dings for a #1 answer in the Face-Off, a family winning the game, and for answering the Fast Money round questions in the regulated amount of time were originally used on "Showoffs" for winning a game. The time's-up buzzer on "Showoffs" was used on this show as the strike buzzer. The time limits on Fast Money rounds were 15 seconds for first family member and 20 seconds for second family member, at answering the same five questions during the Fast Money rounds, originally.
Family Feud made numerous appearances as ABC prime-time specials at the height of its popularity in the early 1980s, usually featuring casts of popular sitcoms of the day. Weeks of the regular show were also often set aside for celebrities to play for charity.
From 1978 to 1984, ABC occasionally aired a series of one-hour specials called All-Star Family Feud Special (1978). This series featured the casts of popular TV shows or celebrities who were allied in some way. Also, both the ABC daytime and syndicated versions aired special weeks featuring celebrity teams who were allied in some way.
Premiered at 1:30 P.M., Eastern Standard Time, on Monday afternoon, July 12th, 1976 on ABC-TV. 8 days after the United States' Bi-Centennial date, of Sunday, July 4th, 1976. On the debut show, the Moseley family challenged the Ambramowitz family. The first question asked, was "Name a famous George". For which the most popular response was "George Washington." The Moseleys won with 200 points.
During one practice of the show, the producers put in a survey question at the end of the game. After the run-through, Michael Brockman went to Mark Goodson and his staff and told them the front part of the game isn't that good, but he thought the survey question was terrific and asked Goodson if he could reformat the game around the survey material. Goodson agreed to change the structure of the game. In the new structure, two families would square off to guess the answers of survey questions, the first team to reach 200 points won the game and had a chance at more money. However, there was controversy over the fairness of the "steal". ABC president Fred Silverman wanted the "steal" to be dropped from the show Goodson however said the "steal" is what makes the game work and is the penalty for not having cleaned the board. In the end Goodson prevailed and the "steal" remained in the game.
Starting on Wednesday, March 2, 1983, a "lollipop tree" was placed next to the anchor player on each team. That player, when introduced, chose a lollipop, and if it had a black stem, the team won a $100 bonus, which was not related to the score. Originally, only one lollipop in each tree had a black stem, but within weeks, there were ten in each tree.
Richard Dawson realized (of course) he'd said things and got away with it, because the first run of the ABC version had kept it on the air, long enough, and he did. Many of the things that he said were absolutely outrageous or politically incorrect.
When it premiered on ABC, show wasn't an immediate hit, also, it was only supposed to be a short-lived game show. 6 months later, ABC executives made the change to move his show from afternoon to the morning, to give it another shot, and fortunately, it did, which lasted for the remainder of the 8 seasons.
Like many other game shows, at the time, the syndicated version aired once a week; it expanded to twice a week in January 1979, and finally to five nights a week, in the fall of 1980. The viewing habits of both daytime and syndicated audiences were changing. When Griffin launched Wheel of Fortune (1983) syndicated version, in 1983, that show climbed the ratings to the point where it unseated Feud as the highest-rated syndicated show; the syndicated revival of Wheel's sister show Jeopardy! (1984), also siphoned ratings from Feud with its early success. ABC decided that it would not renew it for the 1985-86 season, and a cancellation notice was issued for the syndicated version as well. The daytime version came to an end on June 14, 1985. The syndicated version aired its last new episode on May 17, 1985, and continued to air in reruns after that until September 6, 1985.
In the All-Star series on ABC, there were three games a show. The first two games were played to 200 points, and the third one was a one-question showdown; and the Fast Money round was played after each game; the first two Fast Money rounds were worth $5,000, and the third one was worth $10,000.