Kissing game show host Richard Dawson dead at 79

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

A producer of "Family Feud" once estimated that Richard Dawson had kissed about 20,000 women during the time he hosted the show.

The kiss became something of a trademark for Dawson, along with his swaggering style, his wisecracks and his British accent.

The popular game show host died last night from complications of cancer at a Los Angeles hospital. He was 79 years old.

Before "Family Feud," Dawson was best known to American TV audiences as one of the prisoners-of-war in "Hogan's Heroes," a comedy in which the prisoners outsmarted their Nazi captors and ran nthe place themselves.

Dawson once quipped that the show ran for six years -- which he said was "a year longer than Hitler."

Dawson began as a stand-up comic in London. In the early 1960s, he landed roles in U.S. comedy and variety shows. His performance as a military prisoner in the 1965 film "King Rat" led to his casting on "Hogan's Heroes."

He also became a frequent celebrity contestant on game shows, including "The Match Game."

On "Family Feud," among the contestants he kissed was a young woman named Gretchen Johnson, who appeared with members of her family in 1981, trying to guess the most popular responses to survey questions. After a decade together, she and Dawson were married in 1991, and had a daughter. In addition to his wife and their daughter, Dawson is survived by two sons from his first marriage.

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