Richard Dawson, the wisecracking British entertainer who was among the schemers in the 1960s TV comedy “Hogan’s Heroes” and a decade later began kissing thousands of female contestants as host of the game show “Family Feud” has died. He was 79.
Dawson, also known to TV fans as the Cockney prisoner-of-war Cpl. Peter Newkirk on “Hogan’s Heroes,” died Saturday night from complications related to esophageal cancer at Ronald Reagan Memorial Hospital, his son Gary said.
The game show, which initially ran from 1976 to 1985, pitted families who tried to guess the most popular answers to poll questions such as “What do people give up when they go on a diet?”
Dawson won a daytime Emmy Award in 1978 as best TV game show host. Tom Shales of The Washington Post called him “the fastest, brightest and most beguilingly caustic interlocutor since the late great Groucho bantered and parried on ‘You Bet Your Life.'” The show was so popular it was released as both daytime and syndicated evening versions.
He was known for kissing each woman contestant, and at the time the show bowed out in 1985, executive producer Howard Felsher estimated that Dawson had kissed “somewhere in the vicinity of 20,000.”