Richard Dawson is unquestionably the best host Family Feud has ever seen. He may not have been as dramatic as Steve Harvey is now, but Dawson brought a calm sense of humor to the show that no one was able to replicate.
Perhaps the most memorable thing about Dawson's hosting gig was his insistence on kissing each and every female contestant on the show. At the time, it was a charming gesture, but that doesn't mean everyone was cool with it. Many viewers found it inappropriate to kiss a woman without knowing her marital status or getting her permission. It became so controversial that network executives tried to put an end to it, with sponsors starting to get uncomfortable.
However, the majority of viewers found Dawson's antics endearing. In the book Hogan's Heroes: The Unofficial Company, it was revealed that viewers were polled on whether or not they would like Dawson to stop kissing contestants. The votes came in at 14,600 to 704 in favor of kissing. Contestants were also apparently asked to fill out of questionnaire, which included the question "Do you mind if Richard Dawson greets you with a kiss?" Very few people declined.
Dawson was asked why he began kissing contestants, and his answer was actually very sweet.
The late host gave an interview where he recalled one contestant who was particularly nervous and having a hard time naming a green vegetable.
"I said, 'I'm gonna do something that my mom would do to me whenever I had a problem of any kind," Dawson recalled. "And I kissed her on the cheek, and I said, 'That's for luck.' And she said, 'Asparagus.'...They went on to win."
His kissing gimmick is also how Dawson met his second wife! 24-year-old Gretchen Johnson appeared on the show, and Dawson ended up smooching her four times in the same episode.
"I just knew there was something about this young lady and myself," he said.
When Dawson returned to the host Family Feud again in 1994, Dawson informed the audience he would no longer be using his signature greeting.
"I met someone on the show about 13 years ago and we're married, and now we have a little daughter. Her name is Shannon Nicole .... And I can't kiss any of the ladies because I promised my daughter I would only kiss Mom."
The audience didn't seem thrilled about Dawson's decision, but I think it was noble!
Do you remember watching Family Feud with Richard Dawson?