Richard Dawson was an actor, comedian, and presenter of game shows of British origin. As an actor, he became known to television audiences in the 1960s when he was given the role of Corporal Peter Newkirk in the sitcom Hogan’s Heroes. Dawson later became much more famous as the original host of the game show Family Feud, a role that earned him the Daytime Emmy Award for Best Game Show Host in 1978.
Richard Dawson’s Bio
Dawson was born on November 20, 1932, as Colin Lionel Emm. He was born in Gosport, Hampshire, England, the son of Arthur and Josephine Emm. He left home at the age of 14 to join the British Merchant Navy and there he began a career in boxing. After 2 years he was discharged from the Navy and decided to pursue a career in comedy with the stage name “Dickie Dawson”. When he reached adulthood, he changed his stage name to “Richard Dawson”, which he eventually adopted as his legal name.
After almost a decade of stand-up comedy, Richard Dawson turned to action in the early 1960s. He made his debut as an unappreciated extra in the epic war movie The Longest Day (1962). In 1963 he appeared in the sex comedy Promises! Promises! followed by a guest role in the sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show. He also appeared in several other television series, including The Outer Limits (1964) and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1964).
Dawson received his groundbreaking role in the sitcom Hogan’s Heroes (1965-71) starring Corporal Newkirk. During his long career with the show, he continued to take on acting roles in films such as Munster, Go Home! (1966) and The Devil’s Brigade (1968). He served as a panelist in the short-lived comedy-drama show Can You Top This? (1970), followed by regular commercials in comedy shows such as Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (1971-73) and The New Dick Van Dyke Show (1973-74). On the big screen, the multi-talented artist lent his voice to the leading role in the animated film Treasure Island (1973).
Richard Dawson’s role as a regular panelist on the game show Match Game lasted from 1973 to 1978, and in 1976 he received his most notable television role as the first presenter of the ABC game show Family Feud. Dawson was a fan favorite during his long stint on Family Feud (1976-85, 1994-95), and he received much recognition for his work on the show, including a Daytime Emmy Award in 1978. His last film role was in the sci-fi flick The Running Man (1987), in which Arnold Schwarzenegger also starred. In May 1995, Dawson officially retired as host of the game show Family Feud.
Richard Dawson was undoubtedly a multi-talented star, known for his work on both the small and the big screen. Among several other credits, he is best known for his long illustrious career as the host of the game show Family Feud. With this and several other business ventures, Dawson has amassed a rather impressive amount of wealth. At the time of his death in 2002, Richard Dawson’s net worth was set at a conservative estimate of $100,000.
Wife – Gretchen Johnson
Richard Dawson was married to Gretchen Johnson for over a decade. Interestingly, the duo met in May 1981 when Johnson appeared as a contestant on Dawson’s show Family Feud. The couple met for a long time and finally entered into the marriage in 1991. There was a gaping age difference of 25 years between the two, but their marriage proved to be a great success. They had a child together, a daughter named Shannon Nicole Dawson, born in 1990.
Before his marriage to Gretchen Johnson, Dawson was married to the British actress Diana Dior. His marriage with her lasted from 1959 to 1966 and they had 2 sons together. Their first son Mark was born on February 4, 1960, and their second son Gary was born on June 27, 1962. Dawson received custody of both sons after his divorce from Dior in 1966.
Cause Of Death
After his retirement from show business, Richard Dawson remained based in Beverly Hills, California. He died on June 2, 2012, at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. His death was a result of complications from esophageal cancer and he was 79 years old at the time of his death. His remains were buried in Westwood Memorial Park, Los Angeles. To mark the anniversary of Dawson’s death, the Game Show Network broadcast a 4-hour compilation of his greatest moments on Match Game and Family Feud.