Richard Dawson, whose career ran the gamut on television from a role in hit comedy Hogan’s Heroes,” to two long-running stints as the memorable host of game show Family Feud, has died. He was 79.
Dawson was British born, but was considered an American actor. His death was announced by son Gary on his Facebook page.
“It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my father passed away this evening from complications due to esophageal cancer,” the statment said.
“He was surrounded by his family. He was an amazing talent, a loving husband, a great dad and a doting grandfather. He will be missed but always remembered.”
Dawson, who ran away from home at 14 and joined the Merchant Marine, got his big break in television in 1963, as a character on “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”
He played a dapper Brit entertainer “Racy Tracy” Rattigan, which wasn’t too far out of character. He had made a living earlier as a stand-up comedian and had even played the London Paladium.
He also played a small role in the George Segal film “King Rat,” as a paratrooper who helped liberate an a allied POW camp run by the Japanese. He parlayed that into the role of Cpl. Peter Newkirk on Hogan’s Heroes.
He used his comedic skills and dapper look to become a lively host and celebrity contestant on game shows. He got in the habit of kissing contestants and it soon became a thing on his show.