'Family Feud': Richard Dawson's Incredible TV Career

Family Feud: Richard Dawson's Television Career
November 20, 2020 - 16:01 / Lucas Anderson

Richard Dawson enjoyed a career on television like few others. From Hogan's Heroes to Match Game and Family Feud, the actor and comedian was a face of classic TV and 1970s and '80s game shows. Let's take a look back at his memorable work, including his reputation as "The Kissing Bandit" on Family Feud.

Richard Dawson was a diverse TV star for the better part of three decades beginning in the 1960s.

The actor, comedian, and host was known for starring on Hogan's Heroes (1965-1971), appearing on Match Game in the 1970s, and hosting Family Feud, first from 1976-1985 and again in the mid-90s. Let's look back at memorable moments in his career.

Richard Dawson: From Hogan's Heroes to Match Game

Born Colin Emm in England in 1932, the TV icon got his start in the UK as a comedian under the name Dickie Dawson. He appeared on a few BBC TV programs in the 1950s, before moving to Los Angeles and landing his breakthrough role as "Cpl. Peter Newkirk" on Hogan's Heroes. He'd play the role for all six seasons of the CBS sitcom.

Richard Dawson and Bob Crane on Hogan's Heroes

After Hogan's Heroes, Dawson transitioned to TV game shows and comedy panels, including Can You Top This? and Laugh-In. But fans got to see him most on Match Game, where he was a regular for over 1,300 episodes in the 1970s.

Family Feud: Richard Dawson, alias "The Kissing Bandit"

Some may forget today, but long-running game show Family Feud actually began as a spin-off of Match Game. And when it premiered in 1976, Dawson made the move as the permanent host of Family Feud—probably his best-known role.

Apart from his charm as a host, Dawson is famously remembered for his routine of kissing female contestants on Family Feud. For the act, Dawson was nicknamed "The Kissing Bandit."

Family Feud: Richard Dawson was nicknamed "The Kissing Bandit"

It's doubtful the kissing would fly today. But even in the 1970s and '80s, it was met with raised eyebrows. According to The New York Times, TV executives repeatedly tried to have him stop the act. He resisted and eventually asked viewers to write in with opinions, and they voted unanimously to have him continue the kissing. 

In a later-life interview, Dawson recalled around 90 percent of Family Feud viewers had supported the kissing out of several 100,000 letters received. He also explained that he kissed women to calm them and "for luck," as his mother had done the same with him.

After his initial hosting run, Dawson acted in The Running Man, and returned for a final Family Feud season in 1994, his final TV work. The TV legend passed away of esophageal cancer in 2012 at the age of 79.