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The Rob Remembers Richard Dawson and Other Family Feud Hosts

Richard Dawson, 1932-2012. CBS

I know this isn’t exactly late breaking news anymore, but if you haven’t heard, Richard Dawson passed away this weekend.  The original host of television’s Family Feud lost a battle with cancer of the esophagus on Saturday.  He was 79-years old.

What may qualify as breaking news, though, is that I am actually a very big fan of Family Feud! When I was a boy, on summer vacations from elementary school, I would often start my day with an intense hour (that’s right, TWO episodes back to back) of the Feud!

Something about it was very accessible to me.  The mark of any great game show is the ability to play it in your own living room while it’s on.  The poll/result presentation of the show would have me shouting answers at my television as if the hapless family on TV could hear me.

Richard Dawson was a great game show host, too.  He was a real ladies man.  He was known most for kissing the female contestants in the 1970s and 1980s…  A vintage Don Juan!  He was the Snoop Dogg of 70s game shows.  While it’s not known how many contestants he bedded or families he ripped apart, it’s been estimated he’s kissed nearly 30,000 ladies on TV!  One of those kisses even went on to become his wife!  That’s right, this smooth-talking game show host married a woman he met on the show in 1981!  They were married until the day he died, too!

However, to be honest, as great as I thought Dawson was, he only clocks in as second-best in the world of Family Feud hosts in my opinion.

Ray Combs, 1965-1996. CBS

To me, Ray Combs was the best.  He had that hokey game show host voice that many could describe as “unlistenable.”  Combs could fake enthusiasm and care for people he had never met before with the best of them, and he didn’t need to enter women’s safety circles to get his adulation.  He could do it with his quick-wit, half-hearted comb-over and charming smile, like any good game show host.  Sadly, Combs’ smile was a beautiful front for a life of torture, anguish, and pain, though.  The seemingly chipper Ray Combs hanged himself  with the bedsheets in his mental hospital in 1997.

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The show would go on to have other somewhat-decent hosts.  The worst of which was probably Louie Anderson.  While I had always thought of Anderson as a funny guy, his tenure on the Feud proved me wrong.  The most impressive post-Combs host to me was actually Richard Karn, probably better known as Al Borland from Home Improvement’s Tool Time.

Richard Karn, not dead yet. CBS

While his character on that situation-comedy was very dry and stone-faced, his actual personality was quite the opposite – Upbeat and fun-loving.

Steve Harvey has been running the show for nearly the last three years, but to be honest, I haven’t seen much of the Family Feud since I graduated college in 2005…  I’m supposed to be a grown up.

Therefore, my official list for Top 5 Family Feud hosts looks like this:

1 – Ray Combs

2 – Richard Dawson

3 – Richard Karn

4 – Steve Harvey

5 – Louie Armstrong

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