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.
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