Before Louie Anderson and Steve Harvey, there was Richard Dawson, a man who hosted Family Feud with charm, good cheer, and a predilection for kissing contestants. "The Kissing Bandit," who hosted from 1976 to 1985, has died at 79.
Dawson's son Gary posted the news on Facebook.
It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my father passed away this evening from complications due to esophageal cancer. 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.
In addition to hosting Family Feud, Dawson was an actor, best known for his role as Corporal Peter Newkirk on Hogan's Heroes. He also played Damon Killian, the host of the titular game show in The Running Man, the proto-Hunger Games.
Although Dawson met his wife Gretchen Johnson when she was a contestant on Family Feud, he didn't make any further moves. When he briefly hosted again in 1994, he dropped the trademark kissing. Luckily, those moments of awkward physical contact live on in YouTube videos — along with the classic clip of Dawson losing his shit at contestant stupidity.