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A Piece of My Childhood is Gone — Remembering Richard Dawson [VIDEOS]

I was so sad when I heard the news that Richard Dawson, host of Family Feud and one of the stars of Hogan’s Heroes, had passed away Saturday night from esophageal cancer. He was 79. I grew up with Richard Dawson, so to speak. I just remember he kissed every woman that was on the Family Feud — some 20,000 women!Dawson was  a charming and likeable English actor who started his career playing a small role in the  Dick Van Dyke Show. His breakthrough on U.S. TV came with Hogan’s Heroes, a huge and highly rated sitcom set in a German POW camp during World War II. It ran from 1965 to 1971. Even though I was too young to get the “humor” of the show, I loved to watch it.

After Hogan’s Heroes was canceled, Dawson went on to Laugh-In (sock it to me!) and the New Dick Van Dyke Show. Again, Laugh-In was over my head, but I knew that something special was going on! I think that is when I first knew I wanted to be a comedic actress. I loved Artie Johnson, Goldie Hawn, the Smothers Brothers and Ruth Buzzi, whom I had the privilege of meeting. Yes, she really is that funny!

Dawson was really great on game shows with is quick wise-cracking wit. He was one of tghe cast members on the game show  I’ve Got a Secret, and at the same time on Match Game ’73, with host Gene Rayburn and other celebrities, including Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly.

But Dawson really hit it big as the host of  Family Feud, which he hosted from 1976 to 1985. After the show went into syndication, he returned to host the final 1995 season. He also met his wife, Gretchen Johnson on the show when she was a contestant. They married in 1981.

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