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Producers brought out “The New Family Feud,” starring comedian Ray Combs, in 1988. Six years later, Dawson replaced Combs at the helm, but that lasted only one season. Steve Harvey is the current host.

Dawson was born Colin Lionel Emm in 1932 in Gosport, England. When he was 14 he joined the Merchant Marines, serving three years.

He first got into show business as a stand-up comedian, playing clubs in London’s West End including the legendary Stork Room. It was there, in the late 1950s, he met blond bombshell Diana Dors, the film star who became known as Britain’s answer to Marilyn Monroe. They married in 1959 and divorced in the late 1960s.

Dawson landed roles in U.S. comedy and variety shows in the early 1960s, including “The Steve Allen Show” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” Then his performance as a military prisoner in the 1965 film “King Rat” led to his being cast in “Hogan’s Heroes,” which truly made him a star to American audiences.

After that, he was a regular on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” and “The New Dick Van Dyke Show.”

Meanwhile, he became a frequent celebrity contestant on game shows, including both daytime and prime-time versions of “The Match Game.”

While still a panelist on “The Match Game,” he began hosting “Family Feud,” where his popularity grew to such levels that he was mentioned as a frontrunner to win the “Tonight Show” host chair to succeed Johnny Carson, who at the time was considering retirement. Though Carson stayed put, Dawson made appearances as a guest host.

Dawson is survived by his widow, Gretchen, their daughter Shannon, two sons, Mark and Gary, from his first marriage, and four grandchildren.

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Associated Press writer Hillel Italie contributed to this report