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Richard Dawson, R.I.P.

By Rich Heldenfels Published: June 3, 2012

I am on vacation, so am not sure how much blogging I will do in the days ahead. Most of my focus has been on things like sunscreen and what to have for dinner. (Tonight: barbecue.) But entertainment news (or news generally) has not paused. Saw that insane shot Tiger Woods made at the Memorial, for one thing. And made note of  the passing of Richard Dawson.

Dawson had a real edge. His "Hogan's Heroes' character was a bit of a scalawag, and there was always a sense on "Family Feud" that his kisses were not necessarily just affectionate. Rakish sort, that Dawson. And with a tough attitude, which was visible more than once. His performance in "The Running Man" indicated it. And there's a vintage episode of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" where he played a less than likable personality, which seemed to be based more than slightly on the real Dawson. (Rob et al., if memory serves, didn't like him but saw a longing in Dawson's character that made them want to write a great show for him.)

That's what made him so interesting, on the shows mentioned and as a celebrity player on "The Match Game": Dawson may have liked your approval, but he wouldn't do just anything to get it, and you might tick him off if you weren't approving enough. It was not easy for "Family Feud" to match that in another host, as Dawson well knew, although Steve Harvey may be the best of his successors. And, where game-shows' success often depends more on the game than the host, Dawson was rare in being essential to "Feud" -- as big if not bigger than the game itself.





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