Richard Dawson bio: wife, net worth, cause of death

Richard Dawson bio: wife, net worth, cause of death

It is typical for unmarried ladies to be told that they will, most likely, kiss a few frogs before their prince comes along. What if the tables are turned around? What if the prince is the one to do a lot of kissing before his Cinderella comes along? Such is the tale of Richard Dawson, a game show host and actor, who kissed plenty of women before finding his one true love. How many women did he kiss?

Richard Dawson
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Source: Instagram

Richard Dawson, whose birth name was Colin Lionel Emm, was born on the 20th of November 1932 and died on the 2nd of June 2012. The actor and show host was born in Gosport, Hampshire, England. His father, who was born in 1897, was known as Arthur Emm while his mother, who was born in 1903, was called Josephine Lucy Emm. He was a Scorpio, and his ethnicity was British. He became an American citizen in 1984, and he resided in Beverly Hills, California until his death. Richard Dawson age at the time of his death was 79 years old.

Profile summary

  • Name: Colin Lionel Emm (commonly known as Richard Dawson)
  • Date of birth: 20th of November 1932
  • Date of death: 2nd of June 2012
  • Age at death: 79 years
  • Place of birth: Gosport, Hampshire, England
  • Residence: Beverly Hills, California
  • Star sign: Scorpio
  • Nationality: British-American
  • Ethnicity: British
  • Father: Arthur Emm
  • Mother: Josephine Lucy Emm
  • Brother: John Leslie Emm
  • Height: 5 feet 9 inches (1.75m/ 175 cm)
  • Marriage: Diana Dors (1959- 1967); Gretchen Johnson (1991 to his death)
  • Children: Mark, Gary, Shannon Nicole Dawson
  • Profession: Game show host, panelist, actor, comedian

Richard Dawson early life and education

Arthur, Dawson's father, drove a van to earn a living while his mother, Josephine, was employed in a munitions factory. Dawson had a brother named John Leslie Emm who was five years his senior. Both he and his brother were expatriated during the Second World War to flee from the ongoing bombing of the main ports and cities in England.

Richard Dawson age
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Due to the commotion that was witnessed at the time, he and John could not attend school as a normal child should have. He once reported that he attended school regularly for about two years only. Dawson started his career in the navy at a young age.

Career path

At only 14 years old, Dawson ran away from his family. He joined the British Merchant Navy where he took boxing lessons. He then joined the merchant marine where he worked for three years. He was later discharged from the service and began working as a comedian. At the time, he used the alias Dіckie Dawson. It was in his adulthood that he changed his nickname from Dіckie to Richard Dawson. He legally adopted the name.

Acting career (Film roles and television shows)

Dawson made his debut into the film industry as an actor in 1962. He featured in different films and television shows. These included:

  • He played the role of a British soldier in the movie The Longest Day, which was released in 1962. The character was uncredited.
  • In 1963, he was in the film, Promises! Promises! On the 8th of January the same year, he appeared in the 15th episode of season 13 of The Jack Benny Program. In this show, he sat in the audience next to Jack. The audience could barely recognise him because he wore glasses and a fake moustache. He also made a guest appearance on The Dіck Van Dyke Show, playing the role of Tract Rattigan.
  • In 1965, he played the character of Captain Weaver in King Rat. He had a cameo role towards the end of the film that featured George Segal. As Captain Weaver, he was sent on a mission to save the prisoners of war from a Japanese prison. After this role, the actor relocated to Los Angeles, California, to pursue his career.
  • Between 1965 and 1971, he was cast in the show, Hogan's Heroes. He portrayed the role of Cpl. Peter Newkirk.
  • The following year, he featured in two films. In Out of Sight, he was an Agent while in Munster, Go Home!, he played the character of Joey.

Richard Dawson age
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Source: Instagram
  • In 1968, Dawson featured in The Devil's Brigade as Pvt. Hugh McDonald.
  • In 1973, he was the voice actor of Long John Silver in Treasure Island.
  • In 1978, he was Chandler Corey in How to Pick Up Girls!
  • In the late 1970s, the actor was often a guest host for Tonight Show whose regular host was Johnny Carson. As Carson faced some uncertainties, Dawson put his best foot forward to be the new host.
  • Dawson acted as Damon Killian in the film The Running Man, which was released in 1987. The film also starred Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Music career

In 1967, Dawson had a brief stint as a musician. He released a psychedelic 45 rpm single. Apples & Oranges and His Children's Parade were some of the songs in the release. He recorded the music under Carnation records.

Game shows

Dawson is best remembered as a game show host and panelist. After Hogan's Heroes was cancelled, the actor became a panellist on the game show Can You Top This?. This game show was cancelled in 1973. He also joined Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In as a cast member in 1970.

Other game shows that he was associated with include the following:

I've Got a Secret

Dawson was a panelist on the show.

Richard Dawson Family Feud
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Source: Instagram

Match Game '73

Soon after the cancellation of Can You Top This?, he was signed to appear in Match Game. He appeared as a regular alongside Charles Nelson Reilly, Brett Somers, and Gene Rayburn. In the show, he proved his ability to be a funny and firm player. He often took the bottom centre seat of the panel. The contestants often chose him to participate in the "Head-To-Head Match" segment of the show. In the section, the contestant had to choose one panelist to find the exact match to the fill-in-the-blank request.

Family Feud

The excellent performance that Dawson portrayed on Match Game made him earn a game show of his own. In 1975, a spin-off game titled Family Feud was created. Dawson's agent demanded that the production team should select Dawson as the host. That was done, and the show debuted on the 12th of July 1976 on ABC.

Family Feud Richard Dawson became even more popular, and his show had ratings that surpassed those of Match Game. He exited from Match Game after the first week of the 1978-1979 season. For his exemplary hosting, Richard Dawson Family Feud was the recipient of the Best Game Show Host award during the Daytime Emmy Awards.

One of Dawson's characteristic habits on the show Family Feud was kissing female contestants. From this habit, he earned the nickname, The Kissing Bandit. Television executives made efforts to stop him from kissing women, but they did not succeed. Instead, Dawson requested the viewers to vote on the issue. Of all the responses, the majority favoured his kissing habit. The Family Feud host explained on the 1985 finale that he kissed women for luck and love.

Richard Dawson Family Feud
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Source: Instagram

How many women did he kiss? By the time he was leaving the show in 1985, it was estimated that he had kissed approximately 20,000 women.After his departure in 1985, Ray Combs succeeded him.

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In 1994, Dawson returned to the show, taking over from Ray Combs. When he returned, the audience honoured him with a standing ovation. The most notable thing in the show was that he was no longer kissing women. He said that he had made a vow to his family to stop the habit. He had promised his young daughter that he would only kiss her mother. The final episode of the show aired on the 26th of May 1995. Currently, Steve Harvey hosts Family Feud.

Other career highlights and outside work interests

  • In 1988, Dawson hosted the pilot of the game show You Bet Your Life. The show was set to air on NBC, but the network did not pick up the show.
  • In 1999, Dawson got an invitation to appear on the first episode of the revised edition of Family Feud. He declined the offer claiming that he did not want to be involved in the show anymore. He had officially retired after the season finale that aired on the 26th of May 1995.
  • In 2000, he was the narrator of TV's Funniest Game Show Moments on Fox.
  • In the 1960s and 70s, Dawson was actively involved in liberal movements such as the Selma to Montgomery protests.
  • In the 1972 presidential elections, he actively campaigned for George McGovern.
  • He was declared the winner of the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor. The award was for his performance in the sci-fi film, The Running Man.

Family Feud Richard Dawson
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Source: Instagram

Richard Dawson net worth

Dawson earned a living from being a witty game show host and actor. While he did not disclose the amount that he received for his work, it was apparent that he was earning fat cheques. The show Family Feud reportedly made him one of the top-earning television celebrities at the time. At the time of his demise, his net worth was estimated to be approximately $100,000.

Relationships and family life

Dawson got married twice in his lifetime. His first wife was Diana Dors, a British actress. In the marriage, he and Dors bore two sons, Mark and Gary. Mark was born in 1960 while Gary was born on the 27th of June 1962. The couple divorced in 1967, and the game show host gained custody of both children. Dawson had four grandchildren at the time of his demise.

Richard Dawson wife
Image:, @dorsbydiana
Source: Instagram

After the divorce, the famous game show host married his second wife, Gretchen Johnson. The lady was born on the 22nd of September 1955. The duo met on Family Feud in May 1981 when she was a contestant on the show. Soon after, they began a relationship that resulted in marriage. The marriage was formalised in 1991. From the Gretchen Johnson Richard Dawson union, a daughter, Shannon Nicole Dawson, was born in 1990.

Dawson introduced his daughter to the world on the opening show of the 1994 season of Family Feud when he showed her picture. Richard Dawson wife, Gretchen, stayed with him until his demise. The family resided in Beverly Hills, California.

Family Feud Richard Dawson
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Source: Instagram

Richard Dawson cause of death

Is Richard Dawson still alive? No, the game show host died on the 2nd of June 2012. Richard Dawson death was caused by oesophageal cancer. He died three weeks after the cancer diagnosis was made. He passed away at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, where he was getting medical attention. His son, Gary, announced his demise on social media with a post that read;

"It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my father passed away this evening from complications due to esophageal cancer. He was surrounded by his family. He was an amazing talent, a loving husband, a great dad, and a doting grandfather. He will be missed but always remembered."

Dawson's body was interred in Los Angeles, at the Westwood Memorial Park. To honour him, GSN aired a four-hour marathon of the game show host's best moments on both Family Feud and Match Game.

Richard Dawson, a famous game show host who died on the 2nd of June 2012, is best remembered for being the original host of the game Family Feud. Famously known as The Kissing Bandit, Dawson kissed about 20,000 women. He left behind his wife, Gretchen Johnson, two sons from his first marriage, a daughter from his second marriage and four grandchildren. May his soul continue resting peacefully.


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