Longtime Family Feud host Richard Dawson died Saturday of complications from esophageal cancer. Dawson, 79, died in Ronald Reagan Medical Center in Los Angeles. His son Gary said on Facebook that Dawson “was surrounded by his family” when he died. Dawson, born in England and named Colin Lionel Emm, had a small role in The Dick Van Dyke Show but became famous in Hogan’s Heroes in which he played the pickpocketing POW Corporal Peter Newkirk. Dawson later was a regular on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In and The New Dick Van Dyke Show. He also served as a panelist on the game show I’ve Got a Secret and subsequently on Match Game ’73 along with Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly. Dawson hit the game show jackpot when he became the host of Family Feud and gained a reputation for kissing the female guests “for luck and for love.” The network version aired from 1976 to 1985, and he won a Daytime Emmy Award in 1978 for best game show host. He returned to host the 1995 final season of the syndicated version. Dawson also played the host of a life-or-death game show in the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger film The Running Man. He married one of his Family Feud contestants, Gretchen Johnson, who competed on the show in 1981. Together they had a daughter named Shannon Nicole Dawson. Dawson also had two sons, Mark Dawson and Gary Dawson, from an earlier marriage to actress Diana Dors.
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