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LOS ANGELES: Richard Dawson, the British-born actor best known as host of the US game show “Family Feud” and for his role on “Hogan’s Heroes,” has died at age 79 after a battle with cancer, his son said.
Dawson died late Saturday at Ronald Reagan Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles from complications due to esophageal cancer, his son Gary said in a Facebook post.
“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,” Gary Dawson said.
Dawson, whose given name was Colin Lionel Emm, was born in Gosport, England on November 20, 1932. A career in stand-up comedy eventually gave way to his acting career.
He appeared on several hit television shows in the 1960s including “Hogan’s Heroes” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show”, before launching into a long run as the emcee of “Family Feud.” The game show, which pitted two families against each other in a contest to guess the correct answers to survey questions, debuted in 1976.
Dawson, who was known for kissing female contestants, became the highest-paid game show host at the time, and won a daytime Emmy award for his work in 1978.
The show was canceled in 1985, but was later reborn in syndication. It is currently hosted by actor-comedian Steve Harvey.
Dawson sent up his own TV persona in the 1980s sci-fi film “The Running Man” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, playing game show host Damon Killian.
Dawson’s first wife was British actress Diana Dors. He is survived by his two sons from that marriage, Mark and Gary, as well as his second wife Gretchen — a one-time contestant on “Feud” — and their daughter Shannon. -- AFP