Family Feud Host Richard Dawson dead at 79

Richard Dawson, the legendary host of “Family Feud,” has died from complications due to esophageal cancer … this according to his son.

Gary Dawson posted a Facebook message early this morning that read:

“It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my father passed away this evening from complications due to esophageal cancer. 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…”

Dawson hosted “Feud” from 1976-1985, and then from 1994-1995. He was also famous for being a regular on “The Match Game” and for appearing in the classic Arnold Schwarzenegger action film “The Running Man.”  One of his biggest roles Dawson played Capt. Peter Newkirk on “Hogan’s Heros,” a wildly popular show in the 60’s.

Dawson was married to Gretchen Johnson … interesting fact — he met her when she was part of a contestant family on The Feud and got hitched in 1991. Dawson was famous during the first run of the show for kissing all the female contestants — he was known as “The Kissing Bandit.”  But in the second run, he kissed no one — a promise he made to Gretchen.

Prior to Gretchen, Dawson was married to Diana Dors, a sex symbol back in the day. They had 2 sons.

Steve Harvey, the current host of “Family Feud,” tweeted today, “I have been Blessed because of Richard Dawson’s work …the birth of Family Feud. God Bless You Sir- You Were The Best”

RIP RD you were a class act & one of the best to ever do it!

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