Glendale, CA

Ray Combs: The Tragic and Troubled Life and Career of the "Family Feud" TV host and Comedian

Herbie J Pilato

Charming, handsome, and talented, stand-up comedian Ray Combs was living his dream. As the engaging host of Family Feud, one of TV's most popular gameshows, he was on top of his game. But then his life took a tragic turn when he died by suicide.

A Closer Look

With Richard Dawson at the helm, Family Feud was a hit. But when Dawson left the famed game show, and Ray Combs joined the show as host, the ratings ultimately began to falter. In the process, Combs fell into a deep depression that would lead to his decision to end his life.

Combs filmed his final episode in 1994. He left with a revealing joke after a contestant failed to get any points in the final round. “Thought I was a loser till you walked up here,” he said to the contestant “and you made me feel like a man.” As soon as the day's filming ended, Combs left the set and drove home without any formal farewell.

Two Years Later

On June 1, 1996, the authorities were summoned to Ray Combs' home at 1318 Sonora Avenue in Glendale, California, due to a disturbance of the peace. Combs had allegedly destroyed most of his home's interior and had been slamming his head against the walls (though he later told law enforcement that he slipped in his jacuzzi.

Shortly after police were on the scene, Combs' estranged wife Debbie arrived at the residence and said that he was suicidal. The police then drove Combs to the hospital, where he was placed on a 72-hour psychiatric observation.

The Next Day Was His List

On June 2, 1996, at approximately 4:10 a.m., hospital personnel discovered Ray Combs' body hanging by bed sheets in the closet of his room. He was taken to the emergency room, where he was pronounced dead upon arrival. His demise was ruled a suicide - at just 40 years old.

[Note: Unless otherwise indicated, certain facts and information in this article were resourced from various entertainment news and media outlets including,,,,, and To read more about Richard Dawson, please click here.]

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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