Saturday, June 3, 2017

Sad date

A wrestling site, of all places, reminds me of one of the sadder anniversaries in game shows. On June 2, 1996 Family Feud host Ray Combs committed suicide at a Glandale, CA hospital.

The wrestling connection is a few appearances that Combs made as an announcer at Wrestlemania and other events. The linked story recaps the facts of Combs' life and death well enough. He was facing mounting debts, health problems, marital issues, and professional setbacks when he took his own life.

At least Buzzr has now brought back some of his Feud episodes. I've always thought that he was underrated among Feud's many hosts. He had the tough job of following (and being followed by) Richard Dawson, and he's usually suffered in the comparison. But in my opinion he was quite an improvement over the bored, mumbling Dawson of Richard's later years on Feud. Just as, in a similar heresy, I think McLean Stevenson was a much better center-seat panelist on Match Game than Dawson in his later, sour years on that show.

Wikipedia tells me one thing I did not know, to use a phrase popularized by a certain talk show host. "Johnny Carson, who had given Combs his first break in show business, sent [Combs' widow] Debbie a check for $25,000, writing to her: 'I hope this will ease the burden.'"


  1. Can't believe it's been that long since Combs died. A funny game show host that will definitely be missed. Apparently, when Combs found out he was fired from the show, he was legit mad about it. He finished out the season, but that was the one of the last times we saw him again. I will say that Combs at least unlike Harvey didn't try to dominate the show every minute. He would throw some jabs in there, but didn't go out of line with them.

    Agreed that Combs was an improvement over the last couple of years of Dawson. At that point, he seemed like: "Well, I'm here, let's get this over with.". It's like all the energy he had in him in the early years of the show was sucked out. In my opinion, Karn is another underrated host. Have no clue why people trash on him so much. He was competent, nice, funny at times, and downright friendly. And he was definitely an improvement over Louie Anderson who basically didn't care for the show that much. He's like Combs. Doesn't get accepted by a lot of Feud fans. I do like Harvey, but he really needs to not be a camera hog too much. Let the contestants be the stars of the show. But keep the crude humor just to PO all the Harvey haters.

  2. I would agree Combs doesn't get a lot of love, but he really did a great job with Family Feud. He provided humor without completely taking over the show and brought in new energy. Karn was nice and friendly, not my favorite host but not the worst host Feud has seen by a long shot.
    Its sad that Combs' career ended so soon. I cant help but think that he could have made Match Game 98 slightly more watchable if he had been around to have been offered the hosting gig.

  3. Dawson died five years ago yesterday, 16 years to the day Ray Combs died

    1. It's so weird that Combs and Dawson died on the same date.

  4. Combs did a great job. And yes, especially following Dawson. In the later years there was an almost certain mental health issue. It appeared that he was isolated with it. And I can only imagine how intensively painful that was for him. And then of course to his family who watched the mental illness progress to his death.
    Thank you for posting it today.
    And yes, that he and Dawson died on June 2nd....

  5. I'm one who thought Combs was just fine as the host. He was quick witted and entertaining, without dominating the show, as others have noted. Despite the professioanl setback of losing Feud, I think he would have found plenty of work had he lived. Hell, he would have been a great host to bring Feud back in 1998, although I'm sure he would have been replaced at the first sign of declining ratings, and that would have killed him.