Photo by Newsmakers
The game show host who never met a nervous female contestant he didn’t try to kiss, died at the age of 79 due to complications from esophageal cancer, his son, Gary Dawson, wrote on Facebook. Richard Dawson started becoming a household name in the 1960s for his role on the CBS sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, which was set in a German POW camp. (He once quipped of the series: “We ran six years, a year longer than Hitler,” recalls the Hollywood Reporter.)
Yet Dawson really skyrocketed to fame as the first host of Family Feud from 1976 to 1985. He mined his guests for laughs and reportedly made television executives uncomfortable through his tendency to kiss nervous female contestants, notes the New York Times. It was one of the most popular game shows in the country and eventually a syndicated version was launched that was broadcast five days a week. Dawson managed to make the phrase “Survey says…” a national catchphrase among fans of the show that asked contestants to guess the most popular answers to polls, points out the Associated Press.
Dawson won a daytime Emmy Award in 1978 as best game show host. Even though he left Family Feud in 1985 he returned for one more season in 1994, writes the BBC.