‘Family Feud’ Had a Host With a Strange and Outdated Good-Luck Practice

Beloved game show Family Feud has been delighting viewers across the country for decades. It was first introduced into America’s living rooms in 1976 by then-host Richard Dawson, whose quirks and personality endeared him to contestants and viewers alike. 

Family Feud has gone through a fair share of host changes over the many years it’s been on the air, and is currently hosted by comedian Steve Harvey. Although Harvey has gained many fans on the show for his hilarious reactions to some of the contestants’ dumb answers, some old-school fans of the show who’ve been loyal to it from the very beginning still stand by Dawson as their favorite host of all time.

Even today, Dawson is remembered for something he regularly did on the show, that wouldn’t fly today. It turns out that he actually did this strange thing for good luck.

Family Feud set
Family Feud | Byron Cohen via Getty Images

What is Family Feud?

In the many decades it’s been on the air, Family Feud has become one of the most popular syndicated television shows of all time. In this game show, two families of five compete against one another for a cash prize of $20,000. The premise is simple: the family members take turns guessing at popular public answers to various prompts, such as “reasons why couples get divorced” or “something that people are afraid of,” as examples. What really makes the show great, which is also true for other game shows like Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune!, is the host.

Currently, Family Feud is hosted by Steve Harvey, an accomplished comedian. Harvey has stood out amongst past hosts because of his willingness to openly mock contestants for some of their dumb answers. Other hosts in the past have included Ray Combs, John O’Hurley, and, of course, the show’s original host, Richard Dawson.

Who is Richard Dawson, Family Feud‘s original host?

RELATED: Dolly Parton Was Almost a ‘Family Feud’ Host

Some people still say that Dawson was the best Family Feud host of all time. He hosted the show from when it first came on the air in 1976 all the way to 1985 and later hosted one more season from 1994-1995, according to CNN. Dawson started his career as a stand-up comic in London and started getting jobs on television in the early 60s. He’s appeared on The Dick VanDyke Show and Steve Allen, but didn’t gain notoriety as a comedic actor until he started to play Cpl. Peter Newkirk on the sitcom Hogan’s Heroes. It is for this role that he was most well-known before he switched over to hosting game shows.

Family Feud was far from the first game show that Dawson had hosted. He appeared on Match Game and hosted Masquerade Party before being asked to be the first-ever host of Family Feud. Viewers of the popular game show quickly noted, however, that Dawson had a very strange trademark habit that he displayed on each episode.

Dawson’s trademark kiss

Dawson quickly became known to kiss all of the female contestants on the hands, cheeks, and even their lips while hosting Family Feud. This creepy behavior definitely wouldn’t fly in this day and age! At the time, however, he got away with it.

It doesn’t seem like he thought of his kisses as being creepy. He once shared in a 2010 interview the reason why he did such a thing: he saw a female contestant shaking with nerves when it was her turn to come up with an answer, and thought that giving her a kiss would make things easier for her. “I said, ‘I’m gonna do something that my mom would do to me whenever I had a problem of any kind. … And I kissed her on the cheek, and I said, ‘That’s for luck.’ And she said, ‘Asparagus.’ … They went on to win,” he shared at the time.  It turns out Dawson thought his kisses were good luck for the female contestants — we’re not sure they would agree!