Richard Dawson

imagesCAL8NDM7There were two great loves of my life during the spring and summer of 1977. One was “Charlie’s Angels”. The other was Richard Dawson. When my sister told me about his passing last June, I was shocked and deeply saddened. He had esophageal cancer. He was 79. I was not aware he was ill.

Richard Dawson was a big part of my life growing up. I adored him. It actually went deeper than that. I was in love with him. Watching him on both “Match Game” and “Family Feud” were precious moments I will forever cherish. To this day, I find myself being overly critical of every host of “Feud” which has followed him. No one can measure up to him in my eyes. Is this unfair? I guess it is. However, it’s the epitome of loyalty.

Richard became a household name as host of “Family Feud”, the easy and fun to play game of how many people do this and that. I’ve had the board game, video game, and played it on FB. I’ve always been a master at it. However, his career did not begin there. He started out as a comedian in England, known as Dickie Dawson. He was the wisecracking Newkirk on “Hogan’s Heroes” in the ’60s. Afterwards, he joined the casts of “Laugh-In” and “The New Dick Van Dyke Show”. He also became a panelist on the revival of “Match Game”, which made its debut in 1973. It would become the highest-rated show on daytime TV. Richard was the one who got all the right answers, the most popular and selected among the contestants. His wit and charm caused him to get tapped for “Feud” in 1976. Contrary to the belief of many, it was not a hit overnight. It struggled in its time slot, and did not easily find an audience. Things began to turn around the following summer, as the kids home from school began to find it. By the fall, it had replaced “Match Game” as the most popular show in daytime. Its popularity was so huge, a nighttime syndicated version was added to the roster, which was great news for me. Airing once a week, it jumped to two then five times a week by 1980, a first in game show history. Then there was the kissing, which has become more controversial in recent years than it was at the time. I wrote about this before, so I’ll leave that area alone. I will say this- I wished I was on the receiving end of those lips many a day.

His era of “Feud” ended in 1985. Following six years with Ray Combs, Richard was invited back to host the show. I ran across him by accident one morning, and was elated to see him again. It was like being reunited with an old friend. Unfortunately, it only lasted one year, but it was still a lot of fun for my family, and for me. I wrote him a letter, pouring out all of my thoughts and feelings, telling him I had loved him since the Ford administration. Several months later, I got a reply. A large, black and white autographed picture came in the mail. It was inscribed to me. It continues to thrill me.

I didn’t see him anymore after that. Word has it he retired. Fortunately, seeing him in his glory days became a daily ritual. TV Land began airing “Hogan’s Heroes”. When we got access to Game Show Network, I got to see the episodes of “Match Game” and “Feud” again for the first time in years. I bought the All-Star Family Feud on DVD. There is YouTube. So, I still get to see Richard whenever I like.

There are very few celebrities who have brought me enormous joy and pleasure. Richard Dawson is one of them. He will always hold a place in my memories, and in my heart.

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~ by kmnnz on January 13, 2013.

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