British entertainer, Richard Dawson, has died at the age of 79.
Dawson’s son Gary notified the world of his father’s passing via his Facebook account saying, "It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my father passed away [Saturday] evening from complications due to esophageal cancer. He was surrounded by his family. He was an amazing talent, a loving husband, a great dad and a doting grandfather. He will be missed but always remembered.”
The younger set may not know who Dawson was, but just about any baby boomer is familiar with the character he played in the TV sitcom Hogan’s Heroes. The CBS comedy had a six year run from 1965 until 1971. Dawson’s character, Nazi POW prisoner Cpl. Peter Newkirk, was a wise-cracking member of an international crew of Allied prisoners running a Special Operations group from a fictional version of Stalag 13.
Newkirk was the group's conman, magician, pick-pocket, card shark, forger, bookie, tailor, lock picker, safe cracker and impersonator of German officers. On one occasion, he impersonated Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister. He even impersonated women to fool the Germans and help the underground movement.
He was also the original host of the Family Feud game show from 1976–1985 and 1994-1995. He became known as “The Kissing Bandit” because he kissed each female contestant for good luck. He was much loved as the host of the popular game show.
I will remember him most for his role as Newkirk.
You can view a gallery of photographs of the late Dawson here.