One of the most popular game shows in TV history debuted on this day 43 years ago. Family Feud premiered on ABC on July 12, 1976. The show was hosted by Richard Dawson and created by Mark Goodson.
Dawson was best known for his role on the World War 2 POW sitcom, Hogan’s Heroes. He was also a popular panelist on Match Game, which was another very successful game show of the seventies. Goodson, along with his partner Bill Todman, produced some of the biggest game shows on TV. Besides Family Feud and Match Game, they also produced Password, The Price is Right, Card Sharks, and Tattletales.
Although it got off to a slow climb as far as ratings go, it eventually became so popular that the following year saw a syndicated nighttime version premier on stations all across the country. The show surpassed Match Game as the most viewed game show on TV and kept that title until Wheel of Fortune took the crown in 1984. The daytime and nighttime shows were canceled in 1985.
CBS revived the show in 1988 and another syndicated version premiered that year as well. Both shows were hosted by Ray Combs. The CBS show stayed on the air until 1993. By this time, Goodson and Todman had passed away and Mark’s son, Johnathan was running the company that owned the show. Ratings were down on the syndicated show and Richard Dawson was hired to once again host the show. His return briefly brought the ratings back up, but that didn’t last long and the show was canceled in 1995.
In 1999 a new syndicated version hit the airwaves and was hosted by comedian Louie Anderson. After Anderson left the show, Richard Karn of Home Improvement fame took over for four years. John O’Hurley who played Peterman on Seinfeld also did a four-year stint as host. In 2010, Steve Harvey took over as host and the ratings shot up, In 2015, the show leaped ahead of Wheel of Fortune as the most watched syndicated game show on TV. Family Feud celebrates it’s 43rd anniversary this week as the #1 syndicated show in America.
Here’s the first Family Feud show from July 12, 1976.