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Richard Dawson 1932-2012
June 3, 2012 8:07 AM   Subscribe

Colin Lionel Emm, known to the world as Richard Dawson, has died.

The British-born actor rose to fame in the U.S. as Newkirk in Hogan's Heroes, the unlikely hit sitcom about a German P.O.W. camp. This led to game show appearances, including a long run as a regular panelist on Match Game.

When Goodson-Todman created a new show based on Match Game's bonus round, the Audience Match, Dawson was tapped to host Family Feud. He was at his best when things went sideways, but he always seemed to be on the contestants' side.

His penchant for kissing the female contestants brought him some notoriety; he defended the practice in his emotional 1985 farewell.

He returned for one season in the mid-90s, but the kissing didn't -- he had remarried, and promised his young child he wouldn't kiss anyone except Mommy.

Dawson took the role of game show host to the extreme in the Arnold Schwarzenegger flick The Running Man.

Watch the Archive of American Television's full interview here.
posted by evilcolonel (80 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Survey says!:

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posted by mazola at 8:10 AM on June 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


And the survey says... : .

(also, eh yo the wu is back!)
posted by cavalier at 8:10 AM on June 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Aw. He wasn't as old as I would have thought, either.

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posted by Curious Artificer at 8:11 AM on June 3, 2012


I would have bet you any amount of money that he was already dead.

As I mention whenever the subject comes up, get the Best of Match Game DVDs from Netflix. They are an amazing artifact of a completely alien civilization, one where everybody is drunk, bawdy, and hilarious all the time.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:11 AM on June 3, 2012 [21 favorites]


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posted by Thorzdad at 8:12 AM on June 3, 2012


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posted by Trurl at 8:12 AM on June 3, 2012


Gotta agree with Horace. I for sure thought....

Just to say, though: If life was rolling for character traits in an RPG, Dawson scored high on "likeability".
posted by Trochanter at 8:14 AM on June 3, 2012


I feel so.... blank.


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posted by Bromius at 8:14 AM on June 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


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posted by Mittenz at 8:15 AM on June 3, 2012


*pours out a Cadre Cola for the dead*
posted by Burhanistan at 8:16 AM on June 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Emm" seems appropriate for a quizz show host.
posted by stbalbach at 8:20 AM on June 3, 2012


I watched every episode of Hogan's Heroes, and he acquitted himself well in each one. His accent was impeccable. I was astonished to learn his normal accent was Mid-Atlantic with a major lean to the west shore of the pond.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:20 AM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


He was so amazing on Match Game that it was always my impression that he actually caused them to change the rules. He was so good at matching the person on the final bonus round that they changed it from letting you pick the celebrity you'd play with (people got the point where they just always picked him, or occasionally Betty White) to making you spin a wheel to see who you'd play with, so at least everybody play with Dawson and win.

Basically, he broke the game by being too good.

He had an incredibly quick, delightfully dirty mind.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 8:26 AM on June 3, 2012 [13 favorites]


Oops. "So at least everybody didn't just play with Dawson and win." Is what I meant.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 8:27 AM on June 3, 2012


I loved watching Match Game reruns on cable when we had it. I wish they had something similar on the air today. My grandparents almost went on Family Feud with my mom and her siblings, but my (Mormon) grandma turned them down because she didn't want to have to kiss him on TV.
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posted by msbutah at 8:29 AM on June 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I totally read that as "Dawkins" and prepared for...I don't know what.
posted by Stewriffic at 8:31 AM on June 3, 2012 [9 favorites]


Morbid trivia:

Dawson was predeceased -- exactly 16 years to the day -- by Ray Combs, his successor on "Family Feud." Combs killed himself in a psychiatric hospital in Los Angeles.

Ray Combs, curiously, also appeared in The Running Man, in a small, uncredited, nonspeaking role as a security guard.
posted by Dr. Wu at 8:38 AM on June 3, 2012 [15 favorites]


Dawson was absolutely perfect in Running Man, which in my opinion is an underrated movie.

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posted by vibrotronica at 8:39 AM on June 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'll never get tired of the things went sideways clip linked above.

R.I.P.

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posted by Sailormom at 8:51 AM on June 3, 2012


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posted by dbiedny at 8:52 AM on June 3, 2012


Wow. He provided me with so many entertaining hours during sick days home from school. And then was in The Running Man taking what he'd done previously to literally a wicked extreme. I'm sorry to see him go.

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posted by hippybear at 8:56 AM on June 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Only in reruns..."
posted by mediated self at 9:00 AM on June 3, 2012


I used to watch "Match Game" with my mom when I was a little boy. My mom is about the squarest, most straight-laced person you'll ever meet; definitely not a fan of anything that would be considered risque. So it was quite a shock when "Match Game" reruns started airing on The Game Show network several years back, as it became obvious to me, as others have noted in the thread, that most of the celebrity panel was three sheets to the wind, often chain smoking (particularly Dawson) and virtually every answer was some sort of double entendre. Either my mom was (is) way hipper than I gave her credit for or a lot of stuff was going over her head.
posted by The Gooch at 9:12 AM on June 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


--- --- ---
|X| |X| |X|
--- --- ---


BZZZZZZNNNK!
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:15 AM on June 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


But seriously, a deep and respectful . for Mr. Dawson.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:16 AM on June 3, 2012


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posted by Smart Dalek at 9:18 AM on June 3, 2012


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posted by luckynerd at 9:18 AM on June 3, 2012


September!

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posted by parki at 9:23 AM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


TiVo picked up an episode of Hogan's Heroes last night, which, of course led to, probably a question asked daily somewhere over the last 40+ years "How...but what...why?" re: the premise.

But if the show worked at all, Dawson was a huge reason why.

And no disrespect to Ray Combs, Louie Anderson, or Wayne Brady, but, though I used to think I loved Family Feud as a game, as an adult I realized, Dawson made it so watchable.

(Though his style as a host couldn't seem more different than Dick Clark's on The $X Pyramid they had that in common as well.)

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posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:24 AM on June 3, 2012


I totally read that as "Dawkins" and prepared for...I don't know what.

Then again, if Richard Dawkins kissed more ladies on television, people might find him more likeable.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:25 AM on June 3, 2012


I don't have a link handy, but there was a convincing article somewhere, wherein a bunch of industry professionals make the point that hosting a game show is the single most difficult job in television.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:26 AM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by Ink-stained wretch at 9:26 AM on June 3, 2012


Who loves you and who do you love?!
posted by edgeways at 9:28 AM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


He will live on in the home edition. And reruns.

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posted by localroger at 9:32 AM on June 3, 2012


Richard Dawson, renaissance man: Apples and Oranges.
posted by mazola at 9:33 AM on June 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


StickyCarpet, I wouldn't be surprised if I'd agree with that argument re: the difficulties of game ahow hosting. Having to keep the show on track by the rules, and dealing with, for the most part, amateurs who weren't used to being on camera, and having those amateurs competing for cash and prizes... well, for as many wonderful game show bloopers there are, it's surprising they're aren't many more. Of course, worse than bloopers, from an exec's perspective would be boring TV, which is what too many modern game shows end up being.

Bizarre side episode tribute: Day 2 of Family Fued's Hatfield and McCoy week when surving members of the feuding clans competed for five days. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the phrase "kissing cousins" is used.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:41 AM on June 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


He will live on in the home edition. And reruns.

As long as The Game Show Network keeps showing them (if you're in the US anyway). It's been cutting back heavily on old game show reruns lately and is pretty much unwatchable now. I mean, who wants to watch new game shows?

Richard Dawson was a staple of my TV-besotted childhood and adolescence. Home sick, playing hooky, whatever -- turn on the tube and there he was. Nobody else remotely like him today. Thank you, sir, for many hours whiled away watching you ad-lib naughtily with starstruck leisure-suit-wearing and maxi-dress-wearing suburban family types on ABC. Now that you and Dick Clark are gone, we've lost a slick 1970s-1980s game-show host troika (Gene Rayburn died in November 1999).
posted by blucevalo at 9:46 AM on June 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Gene Rayburn always seemed like a nice man to me.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:51 AM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by immlass at 9:59 AM on June 3, 2012


...get the Best of Match Game DVDs from Netflix. They are an amazing artifact of a completely alien civilization, one where everybody is drunk, bawdy, and hilarious all the time.

Oh, thank you thank you. I had no idea there was a best of comp. If anyone doubts Match Game was a sloppy hilarious drunken mess, you can really see it in the "School Riot" episode from 1977 - Part One (in which an obviously smashed Gene Rayburn saunters on to Ed Asner's greeting, "Well, if it isn't old Unleaded himself") and Part Two (the completely bungled judging that leads to a minor revolt led by Dawson).

Wikipedia: When CBS revamped Match Game in 1973 with more of a focus on risqué humor, ratings more than doubled in comparison with the NBC incarnation. Within eleven weeks, Match Game 73 was the most watched program on daytime television. By summer 1974, it grew into an absolute phenomenon with high school students and housewives, scoring remarkable ratings among the 12-34 age demographic....It surpassed records as the most popular daytime program ever with a record 11 million daily viewers...

Oh, and thanks, Dawson. I was a 9-year-old budding queer suburban 70s TV junkie when Match Game's vaguely smutty and sloshed vibe came pouring into our living room. I loved it.
posted by mediareport at 10:05 AM on June 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


RIP sir. Hopefully, you Wink Martindale and Groucho Marx are exchanging tales over a few beers somewherE.
posted by jonmc at 10:06 AM on June 3, 2012


Wink is still alive.
posted by evilcolonel at 10:25 AM on June 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by 4ster at 10:29 AM on June 3, 2012


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posted by caclwmr4 at 10:49 AM on June 3, 2012


I watch Match Game every morning during breakfast -- it's on GSN, two episodes back-to-back, at 7am CST. I believe they changed the rules for Dawson twice; there was a period where the rule was instated where you couldn't pick the same celebrity twice in a row. I don't think that lasted very long.

Also:

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He seemed like a class act throughout.
posted by AzraelBrown at 10:59 AM on June 3, 2012


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posted by Spatch at 11:02 AM on June 3, 2012


Awww, shit.

I learned about RD originally in an ironic sense, and then started watching the old Match Game episodes on GSN, and I realized that he was a class act, a good guy, and a great host.

As you'll read about him, he met a wife on the set of Family Feud. It's an awesome episode to see, and I highly recommend you seek it out. The Richard Dawson you know goes a bit googly at the knees, so the speak, when he meets her. He was a consummate performer and a class act, but he clearly fell in love during the filming of the episode, and it just humanizes him all the more for having done it.

We don't have folks like him anymore. We're gonna miss you, Richard.

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posted by barnacles at 11:16 AM on June 3, 2012


Awh. Sad. Drunken match game was the best thing about staying home sick as a kid.
posted by dejah420 at 11:21 AM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I liked his character on HH's but ultimately felt him a bore on FF. Blech, all that drunken-pandering-sloppy-kissing-Middle-'merica.

Still, it IS sad, more evidence that the past is gone.
posted by noaccident at 11:33 AM on June 3, 2012


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posted by rahnefan at 11:58 AM on June 3, 2012


The always-reliable Mark Evanier has a personal recollection of his one encounter with Dawson on his blog today. Evanier acknowledges some of the "ego-too-big-for-his-britches" tales that have been passed around about Dawson over the years, but his story gives evidence that, at the very least, Dawson had enough decency about him to be gracious when the moment called for it.
posted by briank at 12:06 PM on June 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


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posted by Ber at 12:43 PM on June 3, 2012


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posted by tribalspice at 1:05 PM on June 3, 2012


First of all
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And then... I've just spent the past two hours reminiscing on how much this dude was a part of my childhood. Good job, blue. Had to pick up my chin off the floor when I read the thing about the other FF host, and am now going to track down some of those Match Game DVDs for my next sick day :)
posted by Lukenlogs at 1:09 PM on June 3, 2012


Ahrnold: Drop dead!
Dawson: I don't do requests.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 2:04 PM on June 3, 2012


Here's an interesting story of Dawson's appearance as "Racy" Tracy Rattigan on an ahead-of-its-time episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show.
posted by themanwho at 2:20 PM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


He was a hero of mine. Newkirk was a star.

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posted by pdxpogo at 2:32 PM on June 3, 2012


Aw, man. This makes me really sad... when I was a toddler, Family Feud was on right at my bathtime, and I used to get naked, act like I was heading to the tub but then do a little bob-and-weave action in the hallway to avoid capture, and run out into the living room to dance in front of the TV and attempt to flirt with Richard Dawson. (I did eventually figure out that he couldn't see me.) He was my first big love.

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posted by palomar at 2:43 PM on June 3, 2012


Wink is still alive.

But what about his hair?

A month ago I discovered an old gift card for bn.com for $70, which I had forgotten about. I thought, I absolutely have to buy something that I don't need and that is perfectly superfluous and silly. I bought the entire set of Hogan's Heroes, and will start watching it this week.

(I have the Match Game DVDs too--classic, classic stuff!!)

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posted by Melismata at 3:48 PM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


@ Dr. Wu Ray Combs

I'm getting a sense of weird synchronicity. Dawson was from the same home town as me, and my birth name (before my mother remarried) was Ray Coombes.
posted by raygirvan at 3:51 PM on June 3, 2012


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Apparently I'm the only one who didn't know he was on Hogan's Heroes until now.
posted by SisterHavana at 4:46 PM on June 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by vitabellosi at 4:54 PM on June 3, 2012


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and

x (kiss)
posted by ladygypsy at 4:56 PM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ruth Buzzi

Jo Anne Worley

Still alive!
posted by vitabellosi at 5:19 PM on June 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Over half of the cast of Laugh In is still alive, actually.
posted by hippybear at 5:25 PM on June 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


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I loved watching him in anything.
posted by bjgeiger at 5:42 PM on June 3, 2012


Over half of the cast of Laugh In is still alive, actually.

But Robert "LeBeau" Clary is the last of the Hogan's Heroes.
posted by evilcolonel at 5:49 PM on June 3, 2012


Family Feud was a nightly ritual for us.
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posted by jewzilla at 7:25 PM on June 3, 2012


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posted by Monkey0nCrack at 7:45 PM on June 3, 2012


"I totally read that as "Dawkins" and prepared for...I don't know what."

Don't feel bad, I read it as "Branson" and was prepared to be convinced that Richard Branson got his start on Hogan's Heroes.
posted by ian1977 at 8:32 PM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dawson met his wife when she was a random contestant on the original Family Feud in 1981, right on the show. Here's Dawson describing that moment in an interview almost two years ago. Here is that show - Part One, Part Two.

A fan made a fannish video with stills from that show, plus a clip where Dawson brought his wife - and their then 3 or 4 year old daughter - out for a few seconds during the year Dawson came back to host the show, 1994. (Possibly that was his last FF show ever?)

Their daughter was born in 1990, and they married in 1991! They were together for 31 years, and married for 21 years. Until yesterday.

It's interesting to catch a random "love at first sight" (or maybe really love within first 20 minutes) on video.

RIP.
posted by caclwmr4 at 8:50 PM on June 3, 2012


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I feel a lot of people miss the point of Hogan's Heroes. Which was, if you have good enough friends, you can have fun anywhere. Dawson was a big part of the fun for me when I watched that show as a pre-teen.
posted by telstar at 10:31 PM on June 3, 2012


I was astonished to learn his normal accent was Mid-Atlantic with a major lean to the west shore of the pond.

It reminds me a little of Stan Laurel's, which makes some sense, given that they both came from the northwest of England and ended up on the left coast.

I never watched Hogan's Heroes, though I did catch Dawson in reruns of the alternate reality that was Match Game on GSN, where he presided over what I knew better as the Kenny Everett seat.
posted by holgate at 10:47 PM on June 3, 2012


The unforgettable September clip, from Family Feud.
posted by ShutterBun at 12:12 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by dlugoczaj at 6:48 AM on June 4, 2012


I was huge fan of Hogan's Heroes as a kid, and I remember starting to watch Stalag 17 once and thinking, this isn't funny at all, these Nazis aren't bumbling idioits, they're actually quite mean.
posted by e1c at 8:27 AM on June 4, 2012


It reminds me a little of Stan Laurel 's....

Dawson does a spot-on immitation of Stan Laurel quite often on Match Game. A man of many talents, he was.
posted by AzraelBrown at 9:16 AM on June 4, 2012


I thought that the bit about him stopping his kissing habit because he was married turned something that seemed silly and innocent (the kissing) into something weirdly sexualized, but this fact:

Dawson met his wife when she was a random contestant on the original Family Feud in 1981, right on the show.

actually turns stopping it right back into silly and innocent and actually quite wonderful.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:37 PM on June 4, 2012


According to his blurb on the back of my crufty old copy of Approaching Oblivion, Harlan Ellison was his favorite author.

I have to love him a little bit for that.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 5:27 PM on June 5, 2012


WKRP versus Love Boat on Family Feud.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:59 PM on June 6, 2012


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