Dawson’s son Gary writes on Facebook, “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.”
After a series of bit parts and guest starring roles, the man born Colin Lionel Emm landed his first big role as Cpl. Peter Newkirk on “Hogan’s Heroes” in 1965. He stayed in that role until the series went off the air in 1971.
Following the end of “Heroes,” Dawson was a regular on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” and made numerous appearances on “Love, American Style” and “The New Dick Van Dyke Show.”
Dawson’s career took a new turn when he landed the hosting job on the game show “Family Feud” in 1976. It was here that he was known for kissing each female contestant including his future wife Gretchen Johnson. He did so until the show went off the air in 1985.
As for why he did it, the AP reports Dawson as saying, “I kissed them for luck and love, that’s all.”
During one of its many reincarnations, Dawson came back to host the “Family Feud” for a one-year stint in 1994-95. He also played Damon Killian in the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie “The Running Man.”