Richard Dawson charmed T.V. audiences for decades between laughs on Hogan's Heroes, hosting Family Feud, and more. But behind the scenes, the beloved star navigated a winding road in love. While a lot of information about his professional career is available online, only a few people know Richard Dawson wife, his children and how his life went off the camera. If you are interested, continue reading.
In this post, we are going to unravel Dawson's romantic history, from his marriage to blonde bombshell Diana Dors to finding new love with Gretchen Johnson later in life. We'll also explore how many kids he had along the way. If you don't know how he met both of her wives and the secret behind their married life, you are on the right page.
Who Was Richard Dawson?
Richard Dawson was an English-American actor, comedian, and game show host. He shot to fame playing Corporal Peter Newkirk on the 60s sitcom Hogan's Heroes and as the quick-witted original emcee of Family Feud from 1976 to 1985. Millions adored Dawson for his charm, wit, and warmth on screen, and that's what gave him the fame and fan following he holds to date.
Only a few people know that when he was 21 years old, he started doing standup comedy with the name Dickie Dawson. It was said to be the first work he did as a professional. Later, in 1954, he got a chance to participate in the Benny Hill Showcase, a BBC Television program that used to introduce new artists and acts on television.
Richard Dawson's Early Life and Career
Born in 1932 in England, Dawson launched his acting career on British television in the 1960s. He later relocated to California, where he landed his big break on Hogan's Heroes. The hit sitcom made Dawson a household name in America and everywhere around the world. After it ended, he hosted several game shows before creating Family Feud.
The birth name of Richard Dawson is Colin Lionel Emm, which he later changed to Richard Dawson. He was born to Arthur Emm and Josephine Lucy Emm. According to reports, his father used to drive a removal van, and his mother worked in a munitions factory. He also has a brother named John Leslie Emm, with whom he was evacuated during World War II.
When Richard Dawson was 14 years old, he eagerly wanted to join the British Merchant Navy, so he ran away from his home. During this time, he used to take part in the shipboard matches of boxing and earned more than $5000 by participating in them. After getting discharged from this service, he started pursuing his career in comedy using his stage name Dickie Dawson.
Who Was Richard Dawson's Ex-Wife, Diana Dors?
Dawson's first wife was British bombshell Diana Dors, an actress often touted as the U.K.'s answer to Marilyn Monroe. The two married in 1959 but divorced in 1967 after having sons, Mark and Gary. According to reports, Diana Dors acted in comedies during the 50s and 60s, and her marriage with Richard Dawson gave her more fame than ever.
Richard was not actually her first husband, as she was married to Dennis Hamilton from 1951 to 1959 until his death. She appeared in shows like Queenie's Castle, Just William and The Two Ronnies. The cabaret performer was a sensation around the U.K. and on American television with her acting and singing talent. After getting separated from Richard, Dors married another person named Alan Lake in 1968.
Neither Richard nor Diana has ever revealed the reason behind their separation, but after their divorce, Richard was said to go into “self-pity” for about 14 months. After a few years of being married to Alan, Diana Dors delivered a child named Jason. In 1984, when Dors was about 52 years old, he was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and he died in the same year.
Richard Dawson Wife Gretchen Johnson & Their Love Story
In 1976, Richard Dawson started hosting the show Family Feud and appeared on more than 2300 episodes. In 1981, Dawson found love again with younger woman Gretchen Johnson. They met when she competed on Family Feud, and Dawson quickly fell head over heels. Despite their 27-year age gap, Gretchen admired the T.V. icon's intellect, and their romance blossomed into marriage.
After the show, Dawson asked Johnson to come over for a date, and she agreed. In an interview with Closer, Dawson revealed that their date didn't go as expected because they didn't know each other very well, but the connection was made. After dating for a few years, they both got married in 1991 and had a daughter together named Shannon.
The couple were married up until the T.V. icon's death on June 2, 2012, from complications of esophageal cancer. Her daughter, Shannon, in an interview, revealed that Dawson used to smoke four packets of cigarettes every day, but she convinced him to leave it. Unfortunately, he had been diagnosed with the disease about three weeks before his death after a lifetime of heavy smoking.
Richard Dawson and Gretchen Johnson Marriage
Dawson retired from showbiz in 1985 to focus on his new relationship with Gretchen, whom he married in 1991. Although it raised eyebrows at first because of the huge age gap between the couple and their differences, the marriage proved successful. Not only the people but both Dawson and Gretchen were sceptical about their relationship but thought to give it a try.
A clip from the episode when Richard Dawson and Gretchen Johnson met for the first time is still available on YouTube, and you can have a glimpse of it above. Apart from the clip, if you want to see wedding photos today Richard Dawson wife Gretchen Johnson, then you can find them on websites like Closer Weekly.
How Many Kids Does Richard Dawson Have?
In total, iconic host Richard Dawson had three children from his two marriages. With his first wife, Diana Dors, he had an elder son named Mark, who was born on February 4 1960 and a younger one named Gary, who was born on September 22 1955. With his second wife, Gretchen Johnson, Dawson had his youngest daughter, Shannon, in 1990. Though twice divorced, he took great pride in fatherhood.
As we've said above, Dawson was an avid smoker, and because of this, her daughter convinced him to stop smoking when he was 61 years old in 1994. Unfortunately, the time he smoked was enough to develop early signs of oesophagal cancer. All of these three children and four children were present at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles on June 2 2012, when he died.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is Richard Dawson's Wife Still Alive?
Yes, Dawson's second wife, Gretchen Johnson, is still alive today. After meeting and marrying Dawson in 1991, Gretchen was by his side until the legendary host passed away in 2012 at age 79. Now in her early 60s, she has continued living privately while raising their daughter Shannon. There's literally no information about her is available out there.
Who Was Gretchen Dawson?
Gretchen Dawson, birth name Gretchen Johnson, was Richard Dawson's second wife. She was an aspiring actress and model in her 20s when she appeared as a contestant on Family Feud in 1981. Although nearly 30 years younger than Richard Dawson and having a different taste, she and Dawson had instant chemistry, eventually marrying in 1991.
How Old Was Richard Dawson When He Met Gretchen?
Richard Dawson was 49 years old when he first met Gretchen Johnson on Family Feud in 1981. At the time, Gretchen was a 27-year-old contestant eager to get her big acting break. Their three-decade age gap was unconventional, but a shared intellectual connection won out, and they had a very successful married life until the host passed away.
What Was The Gretchen Johnson Dawson 2020 News?
In 2020, it was reported that Gretchen Dawson had placed the Los Angeles house she shared with her late husband, Richard, on the market for $3.7 million. The home held decades of memories for Dawson's wife, who was looking for a fresh start. However, the news turned out to be a hoax as she is now living with her son Gary in Los Angeles.
Did Richard Dawson Also Have An Acting Career?
Yes, before becoming an iconic TV host, Richard Dawson first launched an acting career. He starred as Cpl. Newkirk was on the 1960s sitcom Hogan's Heroes and appeared in various films and shows until retiring in 1985 to focus on family. Not only this but in 1965, Dawson had a small role as a character named Captain Weaver at the end of the film King Rat.
How and Where Did Richard Dawson Die?
Richard Dawson died from esophageal cancer at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in 2012 at age 79. His wife Gretchen and daughter Shannon were by his bedside, and his two sons arrived at the centre later with Richard's four grandkids. The legendary comedian and host had battled health issues for years leading up to his passing.
A clip of Richard Dawson wife Gretchen Johnson Dawson 2017, went viral where she could be seen recalling the times when they met for the first time. We currently have not details of Shannon Dawson wedding Gretchen Johnson Dawson, as she loves keeping her life private. But a few of her posts on Twitter suggest that she is married and has two kids.
Today Richard Dawson wife Gretchen Johnson, lives with her sons in Los Angeles. However, there's little to no information about her is available now. You can keep visiting the Certain Doubts website, as we will keep this post updated with more information on Richard Dawson and his wives. If you know something, then do share it with us via the comments below.
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