Richard Dawson (born Colin Lionel Emm; November 20, 1932 – June 2, 2012) was an English-American actor and comedian, and a game show host and panelist in the United States. He played Corporal Peter Newkirk on Hogan's Heroes, was the original host of the Family Feud game show from 1976–1985 and was a regular panelist on Match Game from 1973-1978.
“Family Feud” became one of the most iconic game shows in TV history and Dawson himself became a household name, and earned the nickname “The Kissing Bandit” for his habit of kissing all the female contestants.
Dawson began a five-year stint as a regular panelist on Match Game. The always-funny Dawson had the prominent bottom-center spot on the show’s grid of celebrities, putting his face and his laughs on display.
Despite rumors that Dawson grew egotistical and difficult to work with, his antics charmed audiences and helped the show win an Emmy Award in 1977.
In 1987 Mr. Dawson played alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the dystopian thriller “The Running Man.” In the film he plays a dark caricature of himself, the host of a game show in which convicted felons must outrun bands of deadly hunters for a chance to win their freedom.
Dawson had a small role in the “Dick Van Dyke Show,” but his U.S. TV breakthrough came with “Hogan’s Heroes,” the highly-rated sitcom set in a German POW camp during World War II. It ran from 1965 to 1971.
“It’s very important to me that on ‘Family Feud’ I could kiss all people,” he said in a 2010 interview for the Archive of American Television. “I kissed black women daily and nightly on ‘Family Feud’ for 11 years, and the world didn’t come to an end, did it?”
"At the height of its success, 'Feud' was both the number-one daytime show and the number-one syndicated television show, becoming one of the most popular game shows ever,"
Dawson's easy-going style topped with a Cockney accent were evident in his early films in the 1960s such as "King Rat," "Munster Go Home" and "The Devil's Brigade," while his quick wit distinguished him both as a game show contestant in the 1970s on "Match Game" and "I've Got A Secret," and as a performer on "The New Dick Van Dyke Show" and "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In,"
Dawson made his hearty, soaring pronouncement of the phrase "Survey says..." a national catchphrase among the show's fans.
He won a daytime Emmy Award in 1978 as best game show host. Tom Shales of The Washington Post called him "the fastest, brightest and most beguilingly caustic interlocutor since the late great Groucho
After his discharge, Dawson became an actor. He moved to the United States in the early 1960s and gained fame playing a British prisoner of war in the popular TV series "Hogan's Heroes."
When he was 14, he joined the Merchant Marines and served for three years. During that time, he made money boxing. He had to lie about his age and remain tough so the older guys would not hassle him.
his trademark move started early on in the show's run, when he saw a woman shaking as she struggled to come up with the name of a green vegetable.
"I said, 'I'm gonna do something that my mom would do to me whenever I had a problem of any kind. ... And I kissed her on the cheek, and I said, 'That's for luck.' And she said, 'Asparagus.' ... They went on to win," he said.
Dawson was known for kissing Feud's female contestants. One of them, Gretchen Johnson, who appeared with her family in 1981, became his wife in 1991.
Dawson cemented his legacy in the 1980s as the Kissing Bandit of the Family Feud, smooching, by one count, 20,000 female contestants during his nine years hosting the program.