Richard Dawson

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Although best known for his long stints on the U.S. game shows Match Game and Family Feud, Richard Dawson also enjoyed a brief recording career at the peak of the psychedelic era. Born Colin Emm in Gosport,…
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Although best known for his long stints on the U.S. game shows Match Game and Family Feud, Richard Dawson also enjoyed a brief recording career at the peak of the psychedelic era. Born Colin Emm in Gosport, England, on November 20, 1932, he left home at age 14 to join the merchant marine, later pursuing a boxing career before joining the theatrical troupe the Barry O'Brien Players. While performing as a standup comedian, he experimented with a series of stage names, finally settling on Richard (or "Dickie") Dawson. In 1958, he appeared on-stage opposite sex symbol Diana Dors, and in April 1959 they were married, relocating to the U.S. three years later. Upon settling in Los Angeles, Dawson hosted a local talk show and returned to his standup career before carving out a niche as a television actor, with guest appearances on The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Outer Limits, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. In 1965, he was cast as Cpl. Newkirk in the World War II-inspired Nazi sitcom Hogan's Heroes, remaining with the series throughout its six-year network run. In 1967, Dawson teamed with Hogan's Heroes conductor and arranger Jerry Fielding for the Carnation label single "His Children's Parade," a psychedelic confection that went nowhere on the charts. The following year, he and co-stars Robert Clary, Ivan Dixon, and Larry Hovis combined for Hogan's Heroes Sing the Best of World War II, a collection of hit songs from the early '40s. After Hogan's Heroes ended production in 1971, Dawson briefly joined the cast of Laugh-In, later guesting on series including Love American Style and The Odd Couple. In June 1973 he became a regular panelist on the ribald daytime game show Match Game, remaining with the series into the summer of 1978. While 1974's Masquerade Party, his first attempt at hosting his own game show, fell flat, in 1976 he was named host of Family Feud, which proved enormously popular during its nine-season run, even earning Dawson a daytime Emmy Award. In 1987, he earned critical raves for his role as an evil game show host in the dystopic Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle The Running Man but retired from show business soon after, resurfacing only in 1994 for a one-year run at the helm of an updated Family Feud.