Wow, first Kathryn Joosten and now this. It's not a good weekend for aging TV stars. News has just broken that TV legend Richard Dawson has passed away due to complications from esophageal cancer. That makes two straight celebrity cancer deaths in two days. How depressing.
Dawson will always be best remembered by TV fans for his tenure as the original (and most would say the best) host of the game show Family Feud. The man radiated charisma and confidence, and even had a trademark of kissing all the female contestants for good luck. Dawson hosted the show from its premiere in 1976 to its first cancellation in 1985. Feud wasn't Dawson's first taste of TV stardom though, as he spent six years portraying Cpl. Peter Newkirk on the popular sitcom Hogan's Heroes. In the early 1970's Dawson was also a regular panelist on another game show, The Match Game.
In 1987, Dawson played a demented version of his game show host persona named Damon Killian in the Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick The Running Man. The film is a cult classic, and Dawson's performance in it is easily his best remembered acting role post Hogan's Heroes.
Family Feud was resurrected in 1988, with comedian Ray Combs taking over the host role. Combs was fired (and subsequently took his own life for various reasons) in 1994, leading Feud producers to come crawling back to Dawson in an attempt to reignite the show's popularity. Sadly, despite Dawson trying his best, the old magic just couldn't be duplicated, and his second run ended after one season. Dawson elected to retire from Hollywood following his exit, and the decision would stick.
Richard Dawson is survived by his widow Gretchen (who he actually met when she was a contestant on the Feud), their daughter, his two children from a previous marriage, and four grandchildren.
R.I.P. Richard Dawson, 1932-2012
Source: The New York Post