His son, Gary Dawson, announced his death on Facebook, ABC News
"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," Gary wrote.
Dawson was born in England on November 20, 1932, the LA Times
He was probably best known as the host of Family Feud
. He hosted the long-running game show from 1976-1985, and then again from 1994-1995, TMZ
He had a small role in the Dick Van Dyke Show
, but according to ABC News
, his big US television breakthrough happened when he starred as Captain Peter Newkirk on Hogan's Heroes
, a highly rated sitcom set in a German POW camp. The show ran from 1965-1971.
Dawson was also famous for being a regular on Laugh-In
and The New Dick Van Dyke Show
. According to TMZ
, He also starred in the classic Arnold Schwarzenegger film, The Running Man
He was married to Gretchen Johnson, who interestingly enough, he met while she was a contestant on Family Feud
in 1981, ABC
reports. The two married in 1991.
During Dawson's first run as host of Family Feud
, he was known as "the kissing bandit," as he kissed all his female contestants, but TMZ
reports that in his second run as host, he kissed no one as a promise to Gretchen. Dawson and Gretchen had a daughter together named Shannon Nicole Dawson.
He was previously married to actress Diana Diors. The two had 2 sons, Mark Dawson and Gary Dawson.