Longtime “Family Feud” host Richard Dawson passed away on Saturday night after a battle with esophageal cancer. He was 79.
“It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my father passed away this evening from complication due to esophageal cancer,” his son Gary Dawson wrote on Facebook, “He was surrounded by his family. He was an amazing talent, a loving husband, a great dad, and a doting grandfather. He will be missed but always remembered.”
British born Dawson was a boxer, comedian and actor and in 1965, he landed the role that would make him famous - the Cockney RAF Corporal Peter Newkirk on “Hogan’s Heroes.” The show ran for six years and came to an end in 1971.
Following his popularity from "Hogan's Heroes," Dawson made a name for himself as a regular on game shows, with his always borderline dirty innuendos and habit of kissing every female contestant. He was a panelist on “Match Game” but it was as host of “Family Feud” that made him a household name. He won an Emmy for his work on the show in 1978.
However, kissing all those female contestants paid off, he married one of them in 1991, Gretchen Johnson. He is survived by Gretchen and their daughter Shannon, as well as his two other sons Gary and Mark Dawson from his previous marriage to Hollywood actress Diana Dors.