Iconic “Family Feud” host Richard Dawson died over the weekend after discovering he had esophageal cancer, something his son and daughter say he found out about just weeks ago.
Gary and Shannon Dawson stopped by Access Hollywood Live on Monday, where they explained to Billy Bush and Kit Hoover that the game show host/actor was able to avoid the often difficult cancer treatments before he passed at 79.
“He was diagnosed with cancer just like three weeks ago, so it all just kind of happened really quickly. Luckily, he didn’t have to go through all the bad treatments and stuff,” son Gary explained. “He had a heart attack and went in the hospital. He was actually going in for his first radiation treatment when he had a heart attack.”
Daughter Shannon, whose mom Gretchen Johnson was a contestant on “Family Feud” in 1981, said her famous dad had no idea about the cancer.
“There were no signs before. He just thought he had heartburn and then he found out he had stage four esophageal cancer,” she told Billy and Kit.
Gary was thankful his dad passed peacefully, saying, “He didn’t have to go through a horrible quality of life for six to 12 months. No one wants to remember him that way.”
Dawson’s children also shared how the game show host first began kissing female contestants on the long-running game show.
“There was this really nervous lady contestant on and he said, ‘Don’t be nervous, give me a kiss for luck,’ and he gave her a kiss and the next female contestant is like, ‘Where’s my kiss?’ And then it just sort of snowballed from there,” Gary recalled.
“He actually got some letters from people complaining that he was kissing on the air and he read those letters on the air and said, ‘I put it to the viewers. If you want to me stop doing this, I’ll stop doing this.’ And the amount of letters he got saying, ‘We love this, this is great, please continue,’ was tremendous,” he continued.
Gary, Shannon and the rest of the entertainer’s family are still coping with their loss, but said they’ve found solace knowing their “Hogan’s Heroes” star dad died amongst his loved ones.
“He was surrounded by his family, his children, my mom… it was a peaceful moment,” Shannon said.
“It was so nice, because we all got to say goodbye… when we were saying goodbye, his eyes popped open, he hugged us. It was a beautiful moment,” Gary shared.
— Jesse Spero
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