Family Feud fans pucker up: contestants were reportedly required to undergo herpes tests while Richard Dawson served as the host. In Kliph Nesteroff’s newly published book, Outrageous: A History of Showbiz and the Culture Wars, an interesting revelation surfaces about a long-running game show. The show had a policy in place. It required contestants to undergo a mouth examination by medical staff using a magnifying glass.
Of course, this precautionary measure was implemented due to Richard Dawson’s tendency to greet female contestants with a kiss on the mouth. His prolific smooching can be seen below.
“A contestant revealed that before her appearance, a Family Feud production assistant entered the dressing room with a magnifying glass and a cotton swab and said, ‘Okay. Everybody line up for your herpes test,’” Nesteroff chronicles in Outrageous.
‘Family Feud’ Fans First Raised Concerns Over Richard Dawson’s Smooching
However, it was viewers that raised the red flag. “Several game show fans were repulsed,” Nesteroff writes. “One viewer complained, ‘Richard Dawson spreads more bugs every week than a flu epidemic.’”
Nesteroff also shares the contents of a letter that was sent to the Philadelphia Daily News during that period: “As a physician, I have wondered about the risks Richard Dawson takes in kissing every female contestant on Family Feud. The diseases that could be transmitted by promiscuous kissing are too long and too loathsome to recount here. Does Dawson or the producers take any caution to prevent infection? Are none of them informed?”
Nesteroff points out that Dawson’s kissing habit was as controversial in the 70s as it is now under alleged cancel culture. “When you watch clips of that era of Family Feud on YouTube and you see Richard Dawson kissing the ladies, a lot of the comments in the comment section will say things like, ‘Well, it was a different time. That’s the way men were back then. It was a different time. People weren’t so sensitive,’” Nesteroff told People. “And here, again, is evidence to the contrary that all kinds of people were complaining.”
Dawson, the original host of Family Feud, passed away in 2012 at 79 from esophageal cancer. He announced “Survey Says?” from 1976 to 1985 and then again from 1994 to 1995. In a 2010 conversation with the Television Academy, Dawson shared that he started the tradition of kissing contestants to help calm their nerves.
Of course, Steve Harvey is the current host of Family Feud. Despite hosting since 2010, he has yet to kiss a contestant directly on the lips.
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