The Reason Richard Dawson Kissed Female Contestants On Family Feud

Richard Dawson was the first host of the game show "Family Feud," which premiered in 1976. According to the "Family Feud," website, he hosted the show until 1985, and then came back from 1994 to 1995. 

While it's hard to imagine in a world in the middle of a global pandemic and still reckoning with the #MeToo movement, back in Dawson's day, it was not only acceptable but expected that if you were a female contestant on the show, you were going to get a kiss on the lips from Dawson. Old or young, all the ladies got a kiss for luck.

In 2010, Dawson did an interview with the Television Academy Foundation and talked about how that tradition started. He said it was episode 10 or 11 when he noticed a female contestant was very nervous and couldn't think of a simple answer to "name a green vegetable you can eat raw." 

He joked with her a little to loosen her up, he said, but it wasn't working. Finally, he said to her, "I'm going to do something that my mom would do to me whenever I had a problem of any kind. And I ... kissed her on the cheek." 

Right after that she said, "asparagus," according to Dawson. 

One of the opposing contestants asked Dawson, "Do I get a kiss for luck?" Though, he said she didn't need luck right then, later in the show when she was struggling, she got that kiss.

Richard Dawson is said to have kissed around 20,000 women on Family Feud

According to Richard Dawson's 2010 interview, after that episode, he felt like the next contestants who were waiting in the green room saw the kisses for luck and would want them, too. 

Dawson said, "What am I gonna do, not? ... If it seems to work for them, then that's great. No harm."

And a funky little tradition was born. Anyone whose ever watched the show from Dawson's era can see that the ladies seemed to embrace it. Or at least they pretended to — and their fellas just watched happily, then shook Dawson's hand. 

Dawson said that in the beginning, the network, ABC, came to him and said he needed to stop the kissing. But Dawson thought that was ridiculous, so he put it out to the audience and asked them to write in to say whether he should stop the kissing or keep the kissing. Clearly, keeping the kisses won. 

According to Showbiz Cheat Sheet, one of Dawson's producers estimated he'd kissed 20,000 women during his reign as host of "Family Feud."