Former ‘Family Feud’ Host Richard Dawson Met his Wife on the Show
Former ‘Family Feud’ host Richard Dawson passed away Saturday night of cancer of the esophagus. He was 79.
Richard played Corporal Peter Newkirk on ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ in the late ’60s. In the mid-’70s he was a panelist on ‘Match Game’ and in 1987 he played an evil, slimy game show host in the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie ‘The Running Man’.
But he’s best known for becoming the original host of ‘Family Feud’ in 1976.
He continued kissing female contestants on the ‘Feud’ up through 1985. He came back and did one more season in 1994, taking over for Ray Combs…who had been HIS successor.
(Oddly enough, Ray committed suicide in 1996…on June 2nd…and since Richard passed away on Saturday, that means they died on the SAME DAY.)
When Richard first left the ‘Feud’ in 1985, an executive producer estimated that he had kissed “somewhere in the vicinity of 20,000 women.”
One of them was Gretchen Johnson, who came on with her family in 1981. They started dating soon after that, and got married in 1991. They had a daughter, and were still married at the time of his death.
Here’s video of Gretchen’s appearance on ‘Family Feud’. The episode begins about a minute in. Richard meets and kisses her at the 5:30 mark.
Here’s the second part of the episode. At the beginning of the clip, Richard asks her if she’s married, and she says she’s not. At the 10:20 mark, Gretchen comes out to do Fast Money, and he kisses her again.
Speaking of Fast Money, Richard once infamously broke into a laughing fit after asking a female contestant “During what month of pregnancy does a woman start to look pregnant?” She responded “September”.
Richard struggled to regain his composure throughout the rest of the round, even when the next family member came out to give her responses. Here’s video of that. Richard drops to his knees laughing at the 2:25 mark.
And here’s video of Richard’s final episode before leaving in 1985. His “goodbye speech” begins at the 1:10 mark.
By the way, Richard also released a few songs in the late ’60s. One of them, ‘Apples and Oranges’ ends with the line: Quote, “Apples and oranges…apples and oranges. Pick them for me. Because I am dead.” (???)