DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

MIKE HUGHES

GARY EDGERTON

ROGER CATLIN

KIM AKASS

GERALD JORDAN

MONIQUE NAZARETH

TOM BRINKMOELLER

NOEL HOLSTON

 
 
 
 
 
Remembering Richard Dawson
June 5, 2012  | By Bill Brioux  | 13 comments
 


"His mind worked like a steel trap, but he wasn't the happiest man in the world."

That was Betty White's assessment of Richard Dawson, who died Saturday at 79.

Popular with audiences and contestants for his almost uncanny ability to match words, the Family Feud host and Match Game panelist was not always a favorite with his peers.

"He was about as sexy as a snail," Match Game panelist Brett Somers huffed in 2006, when the documentary The Real Match Game Story: Behind the Blank aired on GSN.

There were suggestions Dawson felt he was above that show when it started to take off in the early '70s. Thanks to the free wheeling party atmosphere (host Gene Rayburn and the panel boozed it up between tapings) and clues that sounded dirty ("Mary liked to pour gravy on John's blank"), it was the No. 1 show in all of daytime for three consecutive years (1973-76).

Dawson lobbied producer Mark Goodson for his own show and got it — Family Feud, a series spun off from Match Game's "Super Match" clue board. For a season or two, the former Hogan's Heroes actor was starring twice a day on two different game shows.

By 1977, it was clear even to viewers that Dawson didn't want to be on the Match Game panel any more. The producers came up with a spinning wheel to give the other celebs a shot at some face time during the big money guesses, something Dawson took as a personal affront. In protest, he began wearing tinted glasses and whispering his answers. The producers eventually gave him his release.

"I remember he left the show and everyone was thrilled," said Somers.

Dawson, however, was vindicated when Feud soon took over as TV's No. 1 daytime series. His "survey says" became an instant catch phrase. His habit of kissing every single female player on the show was also part of Feud's corny charm.

By the mid-'80s, however, hour-long soaps has squeezed most game shows off network schedules. Feud ended its original run in 1985. Dawson got a second shot at hosting a revival of the series in 1994, but he and the show were both gone in a year.

Besides his six-year run as Cockney POW Newkirk on Hogan's Heroes, Dawson appeared in several other sitcoms. He guested on The Dick Van Dyke Show and was a regular in the '70s on The New Dick Van Dyke Show.

Aside from his appearance as a nasty game show host in Arnold Schwarzenegger's The Running Man (1987), the British born performer pretty much fell of the radar after that final Feud flicker. This led to rumours that he had died. No longer just a rumour; Richard Dawson is blank.


 
 
 
 
 
Leave a Comment: (No HTML, 1000 chars max)
 
 Name (required)
 
 Email (required) (will not be published)
 
GOVOE
Type in the verification word shown on the image.
 
 
 Page: 1 of 1  | Go to page: 
13 Comments
 
 
Karan
I like Matchgame on Buzzer currently. But Richard Dawson always irritated me. He seemed egotistical and would have a frown on his face if the contestant he matched didn't express gratitude, a kiss from a woman or a handshake from a man even during the preliminary big money round. And if someone didn't pick his choice of three and it ended up the $500 response, he would rub it in. He just seemed to be a very insecure man even though the audience always seemed enamored by him.
Jul 20, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Ron Haaning
Contrary to popular belief, Richard Dawson did not match panelists one on one answers as much as people think. Actually, Betty White probably had a higher success rate one on one. Dawson was called on the most times by far, so people assume he matched them the most often. Dawson was overrated, had such a big ego and was so full of himself.
Jun 7, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Ron Haaning
Contrary to popular belief, Richard Dawson did not match panelists one on one answers as much as people think. Actually, Betty White probably had a higher success rate one on one. Dawson was called on the most times by far, so people assume he matched them the most often. Dawson was overrated, had such a big ego and was so full of himself.
Jun 7, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Sonja Wiles
The "Star Wheel" was introduced while Richard Dawson was STILL on the show! I remember distinctly because Charles mentioned about the "Star Wheel" being fixed. I think Richard Dawson was just as much the star of Match Game as Gene Rayburn. It didn't last much longer after Richard left.
Jul 21, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
James Robinson
If I had to listen Brett Somers inane comments and obsession on being the focus of every minute of the show (she couldn't shut up even when someone else was answering) I would have opened my wrists. As for Somers comment ref him not being sexy, that's ironic since Somers face could sink a thousand ships.
Feb 2, 2017   |  Reply
 
Kevin
Agree wholeheartedly. Brett was anything but funny and seemingly loved giving ridiculously stupid answers. I'm sure she felt about Dawson as she claimed because he wouldn't give her the time of day. I thought she was a nasty vile woman.
Mar 23, 2019
 
 
Denise
Finally someone else is irritated by Brett Somers irritated !! She was as full of herself as she said Richard Dawson was. Never ever shut up, looked and commented on everyone’s answers and was biting in her comments, not funny, nasty. Her wardrobe and hairstyle belonged in the 50s and she just wasn’t funny, just obnoxious. I think she and Kay Stevens that blatantly flirted obnoxiously with every guy should have been
‘blanked’
Feb 28, 2019
 
 
 
Ken
Sorry Eddie, I reread what you said, yes, they should introduced "The Wheel" after Richard Dawson left. Richard Dawson was a GENIUS!
Dec 26, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Ken
What was the DATE Richard last appeared on Match Game and when was it Broadcast?
Dec 26, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Lindy
I don't blame him - the wheel would have pissed me off, too.
Jul 5, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Dan
He didn't wear sunglasses in protest, he wore them due to an eye injury. He was still wearing them on Family Feud during that time.
Apr 6, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Eddie
The show should have introduced the wheel after he left. The wheel was introduced in 1978.
Oct 26, 2012   |  Reply
 
Ken
NOT TRUE!

Simply watch the Match Game '78 reruns on "BUZZR". That stupid wheel is there when Richard Dawson is still on the show!
Dec 26, 2016
 
 
 
Noel Holston
Also: Nice, honest piece, Bill.
Jun 6, 2012   |  Reply
 
 
Noel Holston
The impression I got of Dawson from the one interview I ever did with him was that he didn't think he had ever truly gotten his due. He was incredibly quick and quite funny off the cuff -- I was impressed -- but there was an undercurrent of bitterness about him that made the experience less pleasant than it should have been.
Jun 6, 2012   |  Reply
 
 
L. Carter
Seems a "kiss off" to a really funny and talented man.
Jun 5, 2012   |  Reply
 
 
 
 Page: 1 of 1  | Go to page: