Richard Dawson, the British-born actor and comedian best known for his role on the World War Two prisoner-of-war comedy series Hogan’s Heroes and as the original host of the game show Family Feud, died Saturday in Los Angeles from complications of esophageal cancer. He was 79.
Although Dawson was primarily known for his two famous television shows, as well as being a regular panelist on the 70s game show Match Game, some of his early career was spent in film. His earlier roles in such films as The Longest Day (1962) and the Jayne Mansfield comedy Promises! Promises! (1963) were so small that they barely got him noticed. A supporting roles in the World War Two drama King Rat (1965) a may have helped land him the part on Hogan’s Heroes two years later. He also co-starred in the 1968 World War Two film The Devil’s Brigade.
Dawson’s most remembered film role was that of Damon Killian in the Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick The Running Man. As the cold and egotistical host of a futuristic game show in which contestants raced through an urban maze dodging assassins, Dawson surprised audiences with a portrayal that stood in sharp contrast to his genial Family Feud persona.