Richard dawson family feud

As is usually the case with list-type questions, it depends. As is less often the case, it depends on Al Roker. There have been seven hosts if you count Roker.

The affable “Today” show staple hosted a brief series of prime-time specials called “Celebrity Family Feud” in 2008. You may or may not want to include him in the official list, depending on what kind of a stickler you are. It was definitely “Family Feud,” with the same format, similar set and everything. However, it aired while John O’Hurley was still hosting the daytime version, so Roker didn’t break into the continuity, if you will, of “Feud” hosts.

If we’re not counting Roker, there have been six, starting, of course, with the great Richard Dawson, who hosted the show from its debut in 1976 until 1985. He was replaced by Ray Combs, then Louie Anderson, Richard Karn, John O’Hurley and now Steve Harvey.

Harvey has brought about something of a revival of the show, and his expressive face and willingness to banter with the contestants have made the show surprisingly popular on social media (surprising because “Family Feud” never exactly skewed young).

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‘Family Feud’ has been hosted by Steve Harvey since 2010, with ratings increasing ever since. (ABC)

“Family Feud” has captivated audiences and remained one of the most successful game shows for the past 42 years, since its debut in 1976. Amid a slew of changing hosts, different time slots and controversies, why do viewers keep coming back decade after decade?

Originally created by producer Mark Goodson, “Feud” started out as a loose spinoff to “The Match Game,” which was popular among families at the time. ABC aired the series with original host Richard Dawson, who was a popular panelist on “The Match Game.”

Although the show struggled at first, it quickly became one of the top-rated daytime game shows on TV. The show wasn’t dethroned until 1984, when “Wheel of Fortune” launched in syndication with Pat Sajak and Vanna White. In 1985, amid waning ratings and complaints from Dawson about the show’s grueling schedule, ABC pulled the plug.

For most shows, it would have been the end of an era, but for a show like “Family Feud,” with a built-in game that people love, it was just a bump in what would become a very long road.

And the survey says…

“Family Feud” returned to the airwaves after just three years away. This time, it was picked up by CBS with a new host, comedian Ray Combs. The show was a success once again, even ushering in a new hourlong format that saw families from the previous episode return.

However, by 1992 ratings shifted once again and the spinoff “Family Feud Challenge” aired its last episode in the 1993 season. The show stayed, but with some distinct differences.

Then, Dawson came back for a single, revamped season. (Meanwhile, Combs died by suicide in 1996.)

Despite a bump in the ratings, CBS determined that the show was unsustainable, even with Dawson’s return. Just like that, “Family Feud” was removed from the air for a second time. However, the second cancellation didn’t stick either.

The show found new life once again in 1999 when it was brought back in syndication with comedian Louie Anderson at the helm. Now getting critical acclaim for his role on the FX series “Baskets,” Anderson is responsible for the “Family Feud” fans know today. Perhaps his most lasting impact on “Feud” was his push to double the prize in the “Fast Money” round.

“So I feel very proud about my days on the ‘Feud.’ I took the money and really feel like I talked them into — or had a big part in helping them — make $20,000 instead of $10,000. I always rooted for everybody, I felt like I was funny, and I wasn’t Richard Dawson, but I was the best I could be at it, and I loved giving people money,” Anderson told The A.V. Club in 2016. “It was a great three years. And it was a great thing for charities.”

The star fondly remembers a benefit following Sept. 11 in which the FDNY and NYPD competed against each other on the show to raise money. After Anderson split in 2002, “Home Improvement” star Richard Karn took over and kept the lights on until it was time for “Seinfeld” star John O’Hurley to take the helm in 2006.

After so many years on the air, its ratings were steady but still low.

Save for a brief run of “Celebrity Family Feud” with host Al Roker in 2008, the series appeared to be on its last leg until it was saved by Steve Harvey.

Harvey managed to increase viewership when he took over in 2010. Not since the years of Dawson was “Family Feud” such a household name. While other hosts saw ratings drop over time, Harvey’s run increased, retaking the crown from “Wheel of Fortune” as the most viewed game show in 2015.

“It’s Steve Harvey. That’s our secret sauce,” producer Gaby Johnston told The Daily Beast in 2015. “It’s Steve Harvey.”

That same year, Harvey told Fox News that he attributed the show’s success to knowing what the people at home want to see.

Not so family-friendly

Harvey believes that, unlike his predecessors, calling out outrageous answers is what gave the show new life.

“If someone said an answer that was so ridiculous, I knew that the people at home behind the camera had to be going, ‘What did they just say?’ … They gave this answer that doesn’t have a shot in hell of being up there,” he told Fox News. “The fact that I recognize that, that’s comedic genius to me. I think that’s the difference.”

“Feud” is no stranger to courting controversy. It’s been that way since Dawson made a name for himself not just as a humorous and witty host, but as the guy who would kiss all the women on the show, regardless of their age or marital status. The habit was not without its critics, however, and executives reportedly tried – and failed – to put an end to it. But Dawson argued to keep the kissing going, and he even went as far as to poll viewers about whether he should stop smooching. He claimed the votes were overwhelmingly in favor of keeping it going.

“I kissed them for luck and love, that’s all,” Dawson once said.

The happily married Harvey does not get physical with any contestants – but the show did seem to learn a valuable lesson from the Dawson days: sex sells.

The jump in ratings in 2015 coincided with a new concept to the game show world – viral videos. Two clips from Harvey’s “Family Feud” went viral for their sexually explicit jokes. In one clip that gained attention online, Harvey asked a contestant to name “the last thing you stuck your finger in.” The player responded, “My wife.” Harvey laughed and then told the contestant, Kevin, “Kev, I’ve had a lot of good answers. my favorite answer of all time.” The host then quickly added: “Don’t do that no more.”

Another clip in which a woman says the word “penis” without thinking, prompting Harvey to go silent for several seconds, also went viral. While the clips were shared by fans, others noted that the show was getting a bit racy.

“A lot of humor has been added in and we’ve added in questions that lean that way,” Johnston admitted to The Daily Beast. “The material’s a little more — well, not so politically correct, but it’s fun.”

Today, it’s not hard to find clips of contestants giving outrageous or even sexually explicit answers in the hope of earning the big cash prize.

Meanwhile, “Family Feud” remains a hit game show in American households and it has a big presence internationally.

Though many things have shuffled and shifted on the show throughout the years, the game’s format remains mostly unchanged. “Feud” pits two families against each other and they are given a survey topic. The family attempts to pick the top answers to the blind survey question. Whichever group gets the most points moves on to the Fast Money round, in which two family members try to score enough points to win the grand cash prize.

When the contestants do well, the audience cheers. When they don’t answer well, the audience often laughs.

The most popular answer is…

Whether it’s the game’s mechanics, Harvey’s hosting or courting risque situations, “Family Feud” continues to be a staple in the game show world both in the U.S. and internationally. Deadline reported in 2017 that, under Harvey’s reign, the show is poised to become the first nationally syndicated TV series to ever increase its ratings for seven consecutive years. The show began at a 1.4 in 2010 and moved to a 6.8 not only overtook “Wheel of Fortune” but powerhouse game show “Jeopardy” as well.

It seems that, at least for now, as long as families will show up to compete, “Family Feud” will be around to let them.

Richard Dawson was born Colin Lionel Emm on Nov. 20, 1932, in Gosport, Hampshire, England. His father was a furniture mover, and his mother occasionally played cards to win extra money for food. In the 2010 interview, he said that he had no early ambition to be an entertainer but that he did have a knack for making people laugh. He was lured to his first theater audition, he said, by the prospect of meeting girls.

After an early career as a comedian in England, he moved to the United States with his first wife, Diana Dors, an actress known as the “British Marilyn Monroe.” They divorced in 1966, and Ms. Dors died in 1984. Mr. Dawson gained initial fame in the 1960s playing Cpl. Peter Newkirk, a con man, forger and pickpocket, in the CBS series “Hogan’s Heroes,” a popular comedy about a Nazi prison camp where the inmates routinely outwit their bumbling captors. He also had stints on “The New Dick Van Dyke Show” and “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.”

In 1987 Mr. Dawson played alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the dystopian thriller “The Running Man.” In the film he plays a dark caricature of himself, the host of a game show in which convicted felons must outrun bands of deadly hunters for a chance to win their freedom.

Mr. Dawson is survived by his wife, Gretchen, whom he met when she was a contestant on “Family Feud”; their daughter, Shannon Nicole; two sons from his first marriage, Gary and Mark; and four grandchildren.

Asked in the 2010 interview how he would want the world to remember him, he said, as a nice guy.

“You wouldn’t want to move if you sat next to me on the bus,” he said. “Or maybe you would.”

Family Feud has always been a beloved show, ever since its inception in 1976 by producer Mark Goodson, who was also behind other hit game shows like The Price Is Right and Match Game. And—we’re proud to say—these days, with Steve Harvey as host and a seasoned production team at the helm, the show is more popular than ever. If you’re among those who can’t seem to get enough of the Feud, you can dip into the archives online. It’s true! You can now stream classic episodes on Amazon Prime or head over to Buzzrplay or (watch Louie Anderson–era episodes daily at 11am PST; check the schedules online for other air times).

Tune in and you’ll see, the heart of the show, not to mention the format, hasn’t changed much over the years, but the faces at the center of the stage have. Here’s a brief look at the seven men who have kept our studio audience cheering and the masses coming back for more Feud week after week, for over 40 years and counting!

Richard Dawson (1976–85; 1994–95)

Believe it or not, our first-ever host met his second wife on the show. In 1981, a contestant named Gretchen Johnson appeared on the Feud stage, and won $12,659 with her family. Nine years later, she and Dawson married. After his nine-year inaugural run as host, Dawson returned for one more season in 1994.

Ray Combs (1988–94)

Combs became host in 1988, after a three-year hiatus following Dawson’s run. At the time, he was a comic perhaps best known for his 1986 stand-up appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, which earned him a standing ovation.

Louie Anderson (1999–2002)

Executive Producers: Michael Canter (1999–2001) & Gaby Johnston (2002)
Director: Lenn Goodside
Announcer: Burton Richardson
Network: Syndicated

Anderson is a longtime comic known today for his breakout role as Mrs. Baskets on the FX series Baskets. During his three-year stint on the Feud, he hosted a charity episode after 9/11, in which the New York Fire Department took on the New York Police Department and raised $75,000 for recovery efforts.

Richard Karn (2002–2006)

Executive Producer: Gaby Johnston
Director: Ken Fuchs
Announcer: Burton Richardson
Network: Syndicated

When Karn took over as host, he was well-known as Al Borland, goofy sidekick to Tim the Toolman Taylor on the sitcom Home Improvement. In 2002, Karn also appeared in the music video for The Strokes’ “Someday,” which featured the band on a fictional episode of Family Feud, facing off against another band, Guided by Voices.

John O’Hurley (2006–2010)

Executive Producer: Gaby Johnston
Director: Ken Fuchs
Announcer: Burton Richardson
Network: Syndicated

O’Hurley, a one-time soap opera actor and avid golfer who plays on the Celebrity Players Tour, came to the Feud following his fairly infamous role as J. Peterman (aka Elaine’s boss) on Seinfeld.

Celebrity Family Feud With Al Roker (2008)

Executive Producer: Gaby Johnston
Director: Ken Fuchs
Announcer: Burton Richardson
Network: NBC

We can’t forget about Celebrity Family Feud! Al Roker—weatherman of the Today Show fame—hosted the first edition, which kicked off in 2008. Roker has appeared on numerous celebrity game shows himself (Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, and Hollywood Squares), and also hosted MSNBC’s game show Remember This? from 1996 to 1997.

Steve Harvey (2010–present)

Executive Producer: Gaby Johnston, Jennifer Mullin, Kevin Williams (2010–11)
Co-Executive Producers: Kristin Bjorklund, Sara Dansby, Brian Hawley
Directors: Ken Fuchs, Hugh Bartlett (2013–present), Karen Apple (2011–2012)
Announcers: Joey Fatone (2010–15) & Rubin Ervin (2015–present)
Network: Syndicated

What can we say about Steve that hasn’t already been said? He’s on Dawson’s heels as our longest-standing host, and audiences can’t get enough of his snappy wardrobe and his quick wit. We love Steve just as much as our fans—and we can’t imagine the show without him.

Notable Celebrity Guests: Mo’Nique, Gabrielle Union, Omar Epps, Romany Malco, DC Young Fly, Jessie T. Usher, Kimberly Elise, Will Packer, David E. Talbert, Keri Hilson, Chris Paul, Honey Boo Boo with Mama June & Family, The Cake Boss & Family, Property Brothers, Kitchen Cousins.

Celebrity Family Feud With Steve Harvey (2015–present)

Executive Producer: Gaby Johnston, Jennifer Mullin, Steve Harvey, Gerald Washington, Thom Beers (2015)
Co-Executive Producers: Kristin Bjorklund, Sara Dansby, Brian Hawley
Director: Ken Fuchs
Announcer: Burton Richardson
Network: ABC

For the past three years, Steve has also hosted the relaunched Celebrity edition of Feud, to—unsurprisingly—hilarious results. Check out our favorite laugh-out-loud moments from last season here, and catch the new season airing this summer on ABC!

Notable Celebrities/Teams: Anthony Anderson, Toni Braxton, NFL AFC/NFC, Dancing with the Stars, The Bachelor/The Bachelorette, Phil McGraw, Garry & Penny Marshall, Rob/Dan/Chris Gronkowski, Mario Lopez, Lance Bass, Snoop Dogg, Sugar Ray Leonard, Laila Ali, George Hamilton, Melissa Joan Hart, Paul Sorvino, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit models, Jaleel White, Tommy Davidson, Alan Thicke, Alfonso Ribeiro, Kelly Clarkson, Amy Schumer, Chrissy Metz.

If you’ve ever dreamed of bringing your family to our stage, we have great news! Our casting team is always scouting for new families. Follow along with our tryout updates on the blog and get the scoop on auditioning here.

Everyone has a favorite Family Feud host. I mean, the show has been on for more than 40 years, and every five years or so, we’re introduced to a new host, each bringing a unique personality to our beloved game show. But like a great song or movie, no one can beat the original Family Feud host: Richard Dawson.

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Already known as a frequent panelist on Match Game, Dawson dominated television screens across America when he began hosting Family Feud in 1976. His good looks and wisecracker sense of humor won the hearts of viewers, but it was his unconventional style of greeting female contestants that would make him famous.

Dawson started kissing female contestants on the cheeks and hands and even the lips within the first few weeks of the show. It all started when he came across a woman who seemed quite nervous, unable to name a green vegetable.

Getty Images

After a month or so, executives tried to put an end to the kissing, according to Dawson, by claiming the sponsors felt kissing women without knowing their martial status or getting their permission was uncomely. In the interview below, Dawson insinuates that it may have to do with him kissing two non-white female contestants.

He allegedly asked viewers to vote on whether or not they would like him to stop. The votes came in 14,600 to 704 in favor of kissing, according to Hogan’s Heroes: The Unofficial Company. The book also reveals that contestants filled out a questionnaire before each game including, “Do you mind if Richard Dawson greets you with a kiss?” Apparently, not many declined.

As controversial as the kissing was, in 1981, Dawson planted a peck on a woman who would eventually become his second wife. Forty-nine-year-old Dawson met 24-year-old Gretchen Johnson when she was a contestant on the show. In the video below, it is so painfully obvious that he was smitten.

During that taping, Dawson ends up kissing Johnson on the lips a total of four times — which is a lot, even for him. Dawson later revealed that after the show, he asked Johnson if he could call her.

“I just knew there was something about this young lady and myself,” he said. She agreed, but after calling her multiple times with no answer, Dawson admittedly thought the college student had given him a fake number. He eventually got a hold of her and learned that she’d just had her wisdom teeth removed. Johnson agreed to let Dawson cook dinner for her a couple of weeks later. That meeting didn’t go exactly as planned, since Johnson hardly ate a thing. Apparently, she hated anything starting with the letter “A,” including the asparagus side dish Dawson had on the menu. Still, a love connection was made.

While many people, especially fans, weren’t fond of their beloved host dating someone so young, Dawson continued dating Johnson even after his first stint on Family Feud came to an end in 1985.

Dawson and Johnson the first time they met on “Family Feud.” YouTube

The couple had a daughter, Shannon Nicole, in 1990, and were married in 1991, just three years before Dawson would return to host Family Feud for a second time. After being invited back to host the now hour-long show in 1994, Dawson made it clear to the first female contestant that he was was giving up his signature greeting. The reason is actually really sweet.

“I met someone on the show about 13 years ago and we’re married, and now we have a little daughter. Her name is Shannon Nicole …. And I can’t kiss any of the ladies because I promised my daughter I would only kiss Mom.”

There were a lot of “awws,” but I think people were mostly disappointed. Regardless, it’s fair to say he made the right decision. Dawson and Johnson remained together until his death in 2012. In one of his last interviews, he said, “I’ve had been 30 and 40 years with Gretchen — the best years of my life — I am the luckiest man alive, truly.”

4 Famous TV Co-workers (who struggled to get along)

Every work environment has its personality conflicts ““ that one co-worker that gets on your last nerve. Sure, you can do your best to avoid that person. But what happens if it’s someone you absolutely have to “make nice with” in front of millions of TV viewers and your career depends on it? The following are 4 great examples of just that.

1. The Shlemiel and Shlimazel between Laverne and Shirley

Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams originally appeared as the characters Laverne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney on an episode of Happy Days. Producer Garry Marshall (Penny’s brother) thought that the pair worked well together, and that a Happy Days spin-off could become a ratings success. Williams was reluctant from the get-go, thinking that her co-star might get preferential treatment since her brother was the producer. One of the first concessions made for Williams was “cross billing” ““ when the opening credits rolled, the actresses’ names appeared simultaneously, with Marshall’s name at the lower left of the screen, and Williams’ at the upper right. (This way, neither was considered the show’s “top” star.) Nevertheless, Williams complained to TV Guide in 1977 that the writers gave Laverne more lines. Williams’ manager once appeared on the set with a stopwatch to “prove” that Laverne had more speaking time than Shirley. Before long, the raging arguments over such things as the square footage of dressing rooms became so heated that actors working on nearby sets could hear them. When Williams became pregnant in 1982, the producers proposed filming as many episodes as possible before she “showed,” and then having her sit out the next 10 episodes. Cindy sued, and was ultimately written out of the series.

2. Little Love between Ethel and Fred

Onscreen, Vivian Vance and William Frawley had terrific chemistry as Ethel and Fred Mertz on I Love Lucy. Offscreen, they loathed each other. It all started on the first day of rehearsals, when Vance found out that Frawley, 22 years her senior, had been cast as her husband. “He’s old enough to be my father!” she complained. Unfortunately, Frawley had been within earshot when she made the remark, and the battle lines were drawn. One of Bill’s more printable nicknames for Viv was “that sack of doorknobs.” Desi Arnaz proposed a “Mertz” spin-off series to Frawley and Vance. Even though Bill was amenable, Vivian absolutely refused.

3. Cybill Wars: Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd’s Moonlighting spats

Director Peter Bogdanovich spotted Cybill Shepherd on the cover of Glamour magazine in 1970 and was smitten. He cast her in The Last Picture Show, and the two began an intimate relationship. Her career didn’t take off as expected, and she appeared in a string of B-movies before eventually being cast as Maddie Hayes in ABC’s Moonlighting. The understanding was that Shepherd, who’d spent many years in the business, was to be the star of the show. But no one anticipated the charisma of her then unknown co-star, Bruce Willis. With his sardonic smirk and cocky insouciance, his portrayal of David Addison quickly became an audience favorite, which did not sit well with Shepherd. She resented the producers slowly turning David into a hero while making Maddie increasingly more shrewish. When the writers finally had David and Maddie “get horizontal” (in order to explain Shepherd’s real-life pregnancy), Willis felt that the sexual tension between the characters had been destroyed, and that the basic premise of the show had been ruined. By the time Willis was tapped to star in Die Hard, he and Cybill were barely speaking. In fact, they filmed their scenes separately whenever possible.

4. Survey Says: Richard Dawson vs. the Match Game producers

Gene Rayburn was the host of Match Game, but Richard Dawson was the show’s star. The British-born actor had a quick wit, and even when he playfully poked fun at a contestant’s truly dreadful answer, he still remained a gentleman. He was also highly intelligent and was the overwhelming favorite when it came to choosing a panelist for the Head-to-Head match. In 1976, Mark Goodson tapped Dawson to host a new game show called Family Feud. It was an immediate hit, and as its popularity grew, numerous nighttime “specials” were also filmed. Meanwhile, Richard was still committed to filming both the daytime and evening versions of Match Game. Feeling burned out, he asked to be released from his Match Game contract. The producers refused his request, so he rebelled by becoming sullen on the set; he no longer joked or flirted with contestants, and he stopped speaking to his co-panelists. He left Match Game in 1978 and went on to win a Daytime Emmy for his work on Family Feud. Be sure to to watch Dawson on bad behavior.

What other backstage feuds have you heard about? Shelley Long being difficult on the Cheers set? Kim Cattrall versus Sarah Jessica Parker? Succumb to your inner Hedda Hopper and dish!