'Family Feud' Host Richard Dawson Passes Away

by LISA HIRSCH 11:20 AM PDT, June 03, 2012
Photo: Getty Images

Richard Dawson, the former long-running host of the TV game show Family Feud, has died. He was 79.

The television personality and actor died of esophageal cancer on Saturday night at 8:38 p.m. His son Gary said in a statement, "He was loved by millions of Americans as a television icon, but loved even more as a husband and a father by his family."

PICS: Stars We've Lost

Dawson hosted the original version of Family Feud from 1975 to 1986, later returning to the franchise from 1994 until 2000, after which he went into semi-retirement. Dawson appeared on a number of other television shows throughout his career, including Hogan's Heroes, The Dick Van Dyke Show and Match Game, and appeared on the big screen alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1987 film The Running Man. A rep for the star tells ET that he was even once considered to replace Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.

Dawson is survived by sons Mark and Gary (from first wife, Diana Dors) his wife Gretchen, daughter Shannon and four grandchildren.