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14 Behind-The-Scenes Stories About 'Family Feud' That The Survey Definitely Never Said

Updated August 11, 2021 6.2k votes 1k voters 114.1k views14 items

List RulesVote up the stories about 'Family Feud' that definitely deserve to make the survey.

Classic game shows like Jeopardy!, The Price is Right, and Wheel of Fortune have left us phrasing answers as questions, coming on down, and spinning that wheel alongside contestants for decades. Family Feud has been around just as long, first airing in 1976, and gave us the line "Survey Says!" to be used in all types of settings.

The longevity of the Feud has brought game show hosts like Richard Dawson, Ray Combs, and Louie Anderson to the podium, with Richard Karn, John O'Hurley, and Steve Harvey similarly refereeing the famous family face-off. There was much more going on behind the scenes of Family Feud than viewers realize, with a fair amount of drama at center stage, too.

The things about Family Feud that we never knew could round out numerous surveys. Here are some of the most surprising aspects of the show - vote up the ones that deserve to be at the top of the list. 

  • Photo: Family Feud / ABC
    1

    Richard Dawson's Signature Sign Off Was A Touching Message To One Viewer

    Richard Dawson got a letter from a woman who told him her deaf daughter loved the show, and that the young girl could "sense" the music from Family Feud and danced when it came on. A picture of the 4-year-old accompanied the letter, as did the sign for "I love you" in American Sign Language.

    As a result of the letter, and his own memories of his mother's blessing of children around the world each night, Dawson decided to make sure all the world's children knew they were loved - including those who could not hear.

    He began including the ASL sign for "I love you" as part of his farewell at the end of each episode; he used it for 11 years and continued to get updates about the fan who inspired it all. 

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    Richard Dawson Met His Future Wife On The Show

    Video: YouTube

    Gretchen Johnson was on Family Feud in 1981 as a contestant. Dawson, 49 at the time, gave the 24-year-old numerous trademark kisses while taping that show and asked to call her afterward.

    He later commented, "I just knew there was something about this young lady and myself." Johnson was a student and recalled she thought Dawson was "sweet" and that she was drawn to him immediately.

    When Johnson and Dawson had their first date several weeks later, it didn't go well. He cooked her dinner, including some asparagus, but Johnson didn't like foods that started with the letter "A." Despite this, they continued dating, had a daughter together in 1990, and married in 1991. 

    It was only after his daughter, Shannon Nicole, asked him to do so that Dawson stopped kissing women on the show. He promised her he "would only kiss Mom."

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  • Photo: Family Feud / ABC
    3

    Richard Dawson Refused To Stop Kissing Contestants

    Richard Dawson was the first (beating out William Shatner) and the third host of Family Feud. Early in his tenure, Dawson began kissing female contestants - for "luck."  The charismatic host was known for his banter, quick wit, and general bucking of the norm, but the kissing was something that made advertisers and TV executives nervous.

    The origin of his signature move, according to Dawson, was spontaneous. When a woman needed help thinking of an answer, her obvious nerves sent him in to do something "my mom would do to me whenever I had a problem of any kind." He kissed her on the cheek. 

    The lucky kiss worked for the contestant, and soon the practice was commonplace. It was controversial as well. Because there was no way of knowing the marital status of the women or whether they wanted to be kissed, the network executives asked Dawson to stop. Additionally, fans at the time were upset that he was kissing non-white contestants.

    Dawson wasn't about to give up kissing but decided to let the viewers decide. He asked fans of Family Feud to write in and let the show know if kissing needed to stop. Due to an overwhelming majority of support, kissing continued.

    In 1985, Dawson explained the importance of kissing and why he kept doing it:

    There were people I know that got upset that I kissed people. I kissed them for luck and love, that’s all. That’s what my mother did to me. There were people upset that I would embrace or hug someone of a different color.

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  • Photo: Family Feud / ABC
    4

    Richard Dawson Waged A Media Campaign To Become 'The Kissing Bandit'

    Richard Dawson's kisses were so prolific that he earned the nickname "The Kissing Bandit." Women came to expect kisses and, to some extent, Family Feud producers supported Dawson's actions. According to producer Howard Felsher, the network was the problem:

    They are the most inflexible tunnel visioned, colorless and frightened people in the world and you can quote me on that. They had a couple of people with a little imagination and flexibility in there, and they were fired!

    To see what the viewers actually wanted from Dawson and from the show, fans were asked to write in about it. Felsher recalled the vote about kissing was "something like 14,000 who said 'kiss' and 300 or 400 who said 'don't kiss.' It was that lopsided."

    Dawson similarly talked about how uneven the voting was, and other sources indicate there may have been more votes for the practice to stop; it was not a problem based on overall totals, but the show did take steps to try to mediate the controversy.

    In 2010, Dawson explained why kissing was so important to him:

    I kissed Black women daily and nightly on Family Feud for 11 years, and the world didn’t come to an end, did it? 

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