Edit
Richard Dawson Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trade Mark (4)  | Trivia (84)  | Personal Quotes (11)

Overview (5)

Born in Gosport, Hampshire, England, UK
Died in Los 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), they 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 (1973) and remained there until 1978.

While still on "Match Game", he hosted his own show called Family Feud (1976). , which he is most remembered for by his trademark of kissing all the female contestants. Those kisses 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 withArnold 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 (84)

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 US 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 Johnson (IV) when she was a contestant on Family Feud (1976) in 1981.
Hosted Family Feud (1976) for a total of ten years: nine consecutive years (1976-85) and returned for one season nine years later in 1994.
Has one brother.
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 afterward, the custom began of families on the show 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 (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.
Best remembered by the public for his role as Cpl. "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 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.
Was offered the lead role as Capt. Robert Hogan in Hogan's Heroes (1965), but refused it because his voice did not sound American enough, hence, the role was given to Bob Crane. He was then offered the role of Cpl. 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 nine years of hosting the ABC version of Family Feud (1976), each of them were all five-time 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 became an actress, she was one of his winning contestants on "Family Feud" (1976).
When he replaced Ray Combs as host of Family Feud (1988) 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).
Enjoyed singing, golfing and spending time with his family.
While talking with a contestant on "Family Feud" (1976) 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.
His father, Arthur Emm, who was born in America, was a furniture mover and his mother, Josephine (Lindsay) Emm, who was born in England, was a housewife.
When he moved to Beverly Hills, CA, 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"; he used the name 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).
Suffered a stroke in 2008 and recovered from it.
He lived in the same house for 48 years between 1964 and 2012.
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, CA.
Left his role as panelist on Match Game (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.
Richard Dawson passed away on June 2, 2012, at 79. Ray Combs, who hosted the revised version of "Family Feud" (1976) in 1994, had committed suicide on that same day 16 years earlier.
Ranked #14 on Life's 15 Best Game Show Hosts.
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 (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's 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 (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 he left the second incarnation of Match Game (1973), fellow game show host Bob Barker sat in his former place for the entire first week following his departure.
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 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).
At age 31 he moved to Beverly Hills, CA, in 1964 to pursue an a career, as an actor and comedian.
In 1950, after his discharge from the Navy at age 17, he started performing stand-up comedy.
He changed his name from Colin Emm to Richard Dawson to pursue an acting career.
His mother, Josephine Emm, died in 1973. She was age 70.
His father, Arthur Emm, died in 1975. He was age 78.
Guest-starred on both sitcoms, whose episodes had him hosted Family Feud (1976) twice: Angie (1979) and Mama's Family (1983).
Was a heavy smoker.
Much to the winning contestants who selected him on Match Game (1973), the producers of that show invented "The Star Wheel," at the end of the fifth season, which replaced the "Head-To-Head Match." While the show's top prize could potentially be doubled and the new feature allowed more celebrities the chance to participate in the end game, it also eliminated of what effectively was Richard Dawson's "spotlight" feature. Dawson, unhappy with the change and more focused on his role as host of Family Feud (1976), left the panel on Match Game (1973), a few weeks later.
When he began acting, one of his first impressions was Sheldon Leonard.
Met Gene Rayburn on The Steve Allen Plymouth Show (1956), 14 years later he would reunite with Rayburn on Match Game (1973).
Was considered to replace Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962), but Carson decided to stay with the show, until his official retirement in 1992.
Was one of the first guests of The Gong Show (1976).
His son Gary's godfather is Steve Allen.
Wanted to become a game show host because he was a popular panelist on game shows.
He was astounded by some of the ridiculous answers given by contestants on Family Feud (1976).
Unlike his fellow game show host Bob Barker, he kissed women on the cheek.
On Hogan's Heroes (1965), he played a corporal, on The Devil's Brigade (1968), he played a private.
During vacation in Hawaii, his manager called up Family Feud (1976) producer, Howard Felsher and told him Dawson really wanted to have his contract reopened and would be mentally incapable after coming back from Hawaii to continue with the show unless the contract were reopened. Felsher advised Mark Goodson to not open the contract and if Dawson decided to quit the show, take the chance and let him quit because the show could stand on its own without him. However, the contract was reopened and Dawson received an enormous salary of over $2,000,000 a year.
When he began hosting Family Feud (1976), the show wasn't an immediate hit; besides,, 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 eight seasons.
The first comedian ever to host a game show.
Did not like to attend his co-stars' or his friends' funerals.
His show Family Feud (1976) debuted only eight days after the US' Bi-Centennial.
Had always behaved like a ladies' man to the young female contestants on the first incarnation of Family Feud (1976).
On Family Feud (1976), there were some objections to his kissing female contestants on the show, ABC tried to influence the kissing to stop, but he rebelled and said he was going to do it anyway. Mark Goodson asked people to write in and say if they were in favor of kissing or not, the responses were overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the kissing on.
He realized that he'd said and done things and gotten away with them because the first run of Family Feud (1976) had kept it on the air, long enough, and he did. Many of the things that he said were absolutely outrageous or offensive in one way or another to some viewers.
Met his first wife Diana Dors, through Victor Mature's stuntman, Tommy Yeardye.
Was very disappointed when Hogan's Heroes (1965) was canceled at the end of its sixth season, when it was caught up in the infamous "rural purge" of American television network programming (particularly on CBS). The "rural purge" was ;;a widespread cancellation of TV series with a rural theme beginning in 1969 and lasting until 1972, due to new demographic studies conducted by Nielsen, the ratings service used by all the networks, showing that these shows appeared to older,, more conservative audiences that didn't spend their money to buy the products advertised on these types f shows, as opposed to the younger, more free-spending audiences who were willing to spend their money on products advertised on shows they watched, and they did not watch these "rural" shows.. Of the cancellations, almost all were still popular rural-themed shows with similarly skewed rural audiences, and took place at the end of the 1970-71 television season. Included in the purge were all three of the country sitcoms: The Beverly Hillbillies (1962), Petticoat Junction (1963) and Green Acres (1965).
Before he was a successful actor, comedian and a game show host, he was Mike Stokey's co-host on his local talk show.
Frequently took advantage of original Family Feud (1976) producer Howard Felsher off the set, because he wanted to accept exact answers from contestants, Felsher didn't think any of them would be accepted. Dawson ditched Felsher, and his former daughter-in-law Cathy Hughart Dawson, replaced him; she was named the new producer of the show, from 1983-85; at the same time Felsher was also promoted to executive producer.
Before Markie Post, would become a successful actress, she used to work on his show Family Feud (1976), as a writer.
Except for the very first episode of his return on Family Feud (1988), he did not kiss the female contestants because of a commitment he made to his young daughter only to kiss his wife.
In early 1994, upon returning to Family Feud (1988), he insisted that he lost weight due to his excessive smoking. He hadn't lost any, and as a result, he came back. Another thing he insisted on was that the "Bullseye Round" would be replaced with "Bankroll Round," because he hated it during the Ray Combs version.
Just three weeks before his death, he thought he had heartburn and went to the hospital, where he found out he had Stage 4 esophageal cancer. He also suffered a heart attack during the first radiation treatment.
Off- the Hogan's Heroes (1965) set, he used to give young Charlene Tilton (one of Larry Hagman's understudies) candy and gum, prior to filming, when she was hanging around the studio that Dawson was in (of all the studios), and he took her around and watch him rehearse.
Father with second wife of Shannon Dawson.

Personal Quotes (11)

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?
There were people I know that got upset that I kissed people; I kissed them for luck and love, that's all. That's what my mother did to me. There were people upset that I would embrace or hug someone of another color.
[When he was in the Family Feud (1976)'s dressing room]: Well we got into that about the second or third week. I got to the end of the line and here was the rather darling lady about 50 or so and she was so nervous, she was a basket case. She didn't want to let her family down but she had no idea at all what to say and I said. 'I'll do what my mom used to do,' and I kissed her on the check, and she gave an answer and it was there on the board. Then I went over to the other family and a woman said. 'Don't I get a kiss, too?' and after that there was no stopping it.'
[When he wanted to do Family Feud (1976) all over again]: I have a daughter, she's 4 years old (Shannon Nicole) and I've been off, almost 9 years, and she never seen me do an honest day work. I thought it would be fun to do something and let her see me; and do what I do best.
[on offering the job as host of Family Feud (1976)]: I've been in Hawaii and came back and they said, 'They got a new show (Family Feud),' you should audition for.
When contestants doze off, that's the thing that really ticks me off, and I tell them about it. But (Bob) Barker or those other guys won't do it because they all want to be Charlie Charming. They never really listen anyway. All those hosts. They'll say, 'Name a country in South America,' and the guy will say, 'Asia,' and they'll say, 'Very good try, but not correct.' Well, you've got to lock the man up, don't you? I'll do sarcastic lines just to make the contestants angry enough so they'll forget they're on television and say, 'I'll show this (so-and-so),' and come up with an answer.
[When he was hired to comeback to replace Ray Combs as original host of Family Feud (1976)]: I'm generally on the side of the contestant, and I don't mind being blatant about it. People think I'm being a smart-ass, a cynic, but I've always rooted for the underdog. I've bet on everyone who ever fought Mike Tyson. I kept losing until he was knocked out by Buster Douglas in Japan. Then I raked it in!

See also

Other Works |  Publicity Listings |  Official Sites

View agent, publicist, legal and company contact details on IMDbPro Pro Name Page Link

Contribute to This Page


Recently Viewed