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Vital Facts About Richard Dawson

Richard Dawson, host of Family Feud and arguably the osculating Caligula of the late 20th century game show scene, passed away on Saturday in Los Angeles. Here are a number of facts about Richard Dawson, presented to aid others in etching Dawson’s legacy into the grand volume of American history.

1. It is estimated that Richard Dawson kissed about 20,000 women during his run on Family Feud. He regretted nothing. In response to the kissing criticisms, Richard Dawson replied, “I kissed them all for luck and love, that’s all.” (Source: The Associated Press, May 17, 1985)

2. Erma Bombeck offered a more reliable metric for Richard Dawson’s kissing quota. She watched a 30-minute episode of Family Feud, noting that Richard Dawson dispensed 23 kisses. (Source: The Milwaukee Journal, January 18, 1981)

3. Richard Dawson was fearless about contracting disease from kissing all those women. Dawson did not fear mono. He did not fear herpes. He did not fear any disease that stood in his path. “That has never crossed my mind,” said Dawson in 1984. His associate added, “He makes two million a year, and two million buys a lot of salve.” It is unknown if Dawson vigorously washed himself after a hot day of taping. (Source: The Durant Daily Democrat, May 27, 1984)

4. Fran Lebowitz had a lifelong dream to appear on Family Feud. Lebowitz called the show “relaxing…the minute I hear the theme, I perk up.” In 1985, Lebowitz’s agent Mort Janklow received a call from Cathy, Richard Dawson’s husband. The plan was to dedicate the March 4, 1985 episode entirely to Lebowitz, because Lebowitz had said many nice things about the program. Unfortunately, Lebowitz’s mother refused to do it. (Source: The Deseret News, March 8, 1985)

5. Richard Dawson did not shy away from politics. He marched for civil rights in Selma, Alabama and campaigned on behalf of George McGovern. When co-hosting a local television show, he was branded “a far-out liberal.” Yet Dawson remained against Communism, maintaining an unabated faith in Western democracy. As he told an interviewer in 1973: “You tell the midwestern housewife that for the good of the state she’ll have to give up her washing machine and dryer and dishwasher and her electric conveniences and take to scrubbing clothes against a rock in a stream and she will have none of it. No one is going to take away her washing machine, least of all for the good of the state.” When asked about becoming a U.S. citizen, Richard Dawson said that he was felt incapable of assuming the responsibilities of casting a ballot. (He would eventually become an American citizen in 1984.) (Source: The Phoenix, July 20, 1973)

6. ABC once offered Richard Dawson a situation comedy involving two priests in a ghetto. Dawson replied, “There’s a lot of humor there, counseling young girls about abortions and heroin.” The conversation ended quickly and the offer was rescinded. (Source: The Pittsburgh Press, June 4, 1978)

7. Richard Dawson was a night person and felt the happiest when the sun was setting. He would stay up writing or reading, and read about five books a week. It remains unknown whether he practiced vampiric tendencies. (Source: Daytona Beach Morning Journal, August 18, 1979)

8. As a young man in the merchant marine, Richard Dawson started out as a laundry boy and worked his way up to waiter. But this was not enough income for the young strapping Englishman. So he started boxing his mates on ship to bring in some extra cash. But Richard Dawson’s hustling didn’t stop there. When he transferred to the Cunard line, he slipped the maitre’d some cash to make sure he was waiting on the high-tipping tables. (Source: Daytona Beach Morning Journal, August 18, 1979)

9. Dawson nabbed his first role by making up Shakespeare quotes on the spot. (Source: Daytona Beach Morning Journal, August 18, 1979)

10. Dawson also secured employment in London by claiming to be a famous Canadian comic on vacation, looking for a few weeks work. A year later, Dawson was playing the Palladium. (Source: Daytona Beach Morning Journal, August 18, 1979)

11. Richard Dawson had perforated eardrums. (Source: The Phoenix, July 20, 1973)

12. When it came to exercise, Richard Dawson was a real man. In 1966, he went for a brisk 15-minute daily walk. He also managed to get in a swim six days a week in weather foul and fair. (Source: Universal Press Syndicate, July 17, 1966)

13. Richard Dawson spent much of his time shooting pool. In the 1960s, he converted one of his five bedrooms into an antique poolroom, with the table acquired from Tommy Noonan. (Source: Universal Press Syndicate, July 17, 1966)

14. In the early 1980s, TV Guide wished to profile the top six game show hosts in the country. Richard Dawson was not profiled. The reason? He would only agree to an interview if he, and he alone, appeared on the cover. It is unclear whether Richard Dawson continued to make such bold editorial demands for the remainder of his life. (Source: The Leader-Post, February 1, 1985)

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3 Comments

  1. RICHARD DAWSSON was known throughout Hollywood for being an Egomaniac. His former Match Game panelists had nothing kind to say about his behavior on the set for all those years. Dawson actually QUIT Match Game when they added the Star Wheel because he was going to have to share the Super Match bonus round with the other celebrities equally, due to it being the luck of the spin that would decide who the contestant would play with. Dawson had gotten so used to being the only one called on that when the wheel was brought in to make things “more fair” to all… He quit in a huff… He even REFUSED years later to agree to sign the release which would allow Mark Goodsen to use his picture on the cover of “The Best Of Match Game” dvd set, so they had to make the cover with everyone except him. This was his thanks to Goodsen who made him A Star with both Match Game and Family Feud.. Dawson was a horrible person and most Hollywood insiders knew it 🙁

  2. I’m prepared to contradict Mr. Scott’s comment above. What you have gotten right. 1. Dawson being an egomaniac. Yes. 2. He disliked the Star Wheel. Yes. However, some of your facts are eschewed. 1. He QUIT Match Game. Depends who you ask. Some sources say he was fired. 2. He refused to have his image on the Best of Match Game cover. FALSE! His face IS on the cover, albeit on the back and also is pictured inside the booklet that accompanies it! I would know, I own a copy! If you watch Richard’s interview with EmmyTVLegends you will get a whole different view of him! He spoke fondly of almost everyone he ever worked with, including Mark Goodson! For someone who’s been criticized by many he certainly isnt the type to backtalk anyone else! Now there are many stories of him being difficult behind the scenes and I’m willing to believe them. You definitely get the sense of arrogance when watching FF and MG. But keep in mind who he had to work with. Howard Felsher was the producer on FF who Dawson at one point barred from the set due to their difficulties. Felsher numerous times afterwards, even years later, bashing Dawson in interviews. However, lets not forget Felsher was involved in the quiz show scandals and also supposedly has spoke negatively of many other hosts he’s worked with. One of Dawson’s difficulties with Felsher was Dawson felt Felsher’s calling with some of the answers was wrong. One of the charming things about Richard that also caused difficulties behind the scenes was he TRULY cared about the contestants, both on FF and MG! There’s an episode of MG on YouTube where a contestant responded with ‘bag’. A couple celebrity panelists responded with ‘paper bag/sack’ and were deemed matches. Dawson responds with ‘plastic baggie’ and gets buzzed. Dawson was somewhat angered by this, not so much out of ego but ’cause he knew it affected the contestant. There were other moments on MG where things to this effect occurred. Check out the infamous School Riot episode! I think this was also what really upset Richard about the Star wheel. Not so much he cant be picked anymore, because there were even moments in pre-SW episodes of MG where he tried encouraging contestants to not choose him, but because he felt it was a blow to the contestants chance of winning the big money. Yes the wheel added fairness but whats the fun if you gotta match panelists like Patti Deutsch, Scoey Mitchell, or Dick Martin who many times cant match anyone to save their lives! However, many people dont factor out that MG’s ratings by that point had been declining ever since the show’s time slot was moved in ’77, and by now FF was the number rated daytime game show. Richard wanted to move on. Call it ego if you will but he had bigger fish to fry. My point is despite the beef this guy has gotten form others, he was an entertaining host and truly cared for people! I choose to remember him the way he wished to be remembered in his final interview, ‘fondly’.

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