He charmed game show audiences and contestants for years on TV game shows like Match Game and Family Feud, and made guest appearances on sitcoms like The Dick Van Dyke Show. Network executives were impressed enough with his performance to cast him as a regular on the military sitcom, Hogan's Heroes. His name was Richard Dawson, and even though it's been over ten years since he died in 2012, the actor, game show guest, and TV show made an indelible mark in popular culture
A Closer Look
Richard Dawson was born on November 20, 1932, in Gosport, Hampshire, England. When he was just 14 years old, Dawn left to join the Merchant Marines. He originally intended to be a boxer, but in 1959, Dawson met and married British actress/singer Diana Dors. The Dawsons then relocated to Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, in 1964, the couple separated, though not before they had two sons. One year later, Dawson was cast as British Corporal Peter Newkirk in Hogan's Heroes, which originally aired on CBS from 1965 to 1971.
Following the cancellation of that series, Dawson ventured into TV game show territory and became a regular panelist on a 1970s reboot of Match Game, which was hosted by Gene Reyburn.
Dawson stayed with Match Game until 1978, alongside regular panelists Brett Summers, and Charles Nelson Reilly, and game show queen Betty White.
Around the same time, Dawson was hired to host the original Family Feud, which aired on ABC from 1976 to 1985. In 1994, Dawson returned to host the show for one more season.
Dawson would make periodic appearances on television and in feature films until his death, on June 2, 2012, of complications from esophageal cancer. But as CNN.com once reported, his son Gary said his father "was loved by millions of Americans as a television icon, but loved even more as a husband, a father, and grandfather by his family."
[Note: Unless otherwise indicated, certain facts and information in this article were resourced from various entertainment news and media outlets including Britannica.com, History.com, HollywoodReporter.com, IMDb.com, Variety.com, and Wikipedia.org.]