Contestants Reportedly Had to Take Herpes Tests to Appear on Richard Dawson’s ‘Family Feud’

FAMILY FEUD, 1976-85, Richard Dawson, 1985.
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If you’re a longtime fan of Family Feud, you may remember Richard Dawson‘s run as host from 1976 until 1985. He was often seen being very touchy-feely with contestants, especially women, and would even kiss them on the mouth! That kind of behavior is obviously not tolerated today, some of which is detailed in the new book Outrageous: A History of Showbiz and the Culture Wars. Writer Kliph Nesteroff writes about censorship in entertainment and some of the bizarre and crazy things that happened back in the day.

In the book, Kliph Nesteroff says that contestants on Family Feud once had to undergo herpes tests on the set before they could compete. Contestants from Dawson’s run as host can confirm that they had to line up to receive their herpes tests after some viewers raised concerns about all of the kissing on the show.

FAMILY FEUD, 1976-85, Richard Dawson with contestants, 1979.

Everett Collection

Nesteroff shared, “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.’ And here, again, is evidence to the contrary that all kinds of people were complaining.”

FAMILY FEUD, (from left): contestants, host Richard Dawson, (1982), 1976-85

Everett Collection

In the book, he also talks about how people have complained about just about every television show in history from Laverne & Shirley to Alf. While cancel culture seems more active than ever, people have always been complaining, it just wasn’t as widespread before social media.

He concluded, “So when people go crazy over whatever it is — drag queens or textbooks or whatever the grievance is about — I think it will look absolutely absurd in the future, which means it’s absurd now.” Purchase Outrageous: A History of Showbiz and the Culture Wars on Amazon.

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November 2020

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