Richard Dawson, the suave host of FAMILY FEUD for many years has died of the complications from esophageal cancer. According to one report, his cancer was diagnosed only three weeks ago. Apparently, esophageal cancer often displays little or no symptoms in early stages, but becomes deadly in it’s late stages. Dawson was 79.
Richard Dawson was first cast in HOGAN’S HEROES, the outrageous comedy send-up of prisoners of war in a German POW camp. But, his smooth and engaging style helped to land him as host of the game show, FAMILY FEUD, for many years. Part of his smooth style was to kiss the female contestants on the show, making his English style seem very worldly and cool. His dry humor and English accent made him a true classic among American TV game show hosts.
Born in England, Dawson(real name Colin Lionel Emm) ran away from home at the age of 14, joining up in the Merchant Marines, where he became a boxer, but later worked as a stand up comic using the stage name Dickie Dawson. With his love of comedy, Dawson was a perfect fit not in HOGAN’S HEROES, but also on ROWAN AND MARTIN’s LAUGH-IN, as well as guest appearances on many shows including THE ODD COUPLE. But, Dawson really made the job of hosting FAMILY FEUD his own, where no other host has since captured his style although the show still is in production.
In terms of TV game show hosts, Richard Dawson goes down in the history books as one of the greatest of them all.