Married Twice Richard Dawson Wives & Children: His Marriages In Detail

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Richard Dawson became a household name in the ’70s and ’80s with the rise of Match Game and Family Feud. The English-American actor, and game show host, however, suffered a failed marriage before the rise of his career. His marriage to his first wife dissolved within a decade.

After living a single life for decades, Dawson lived a happily married life for around the last two decades of his life. Want to know more about late actor Richard Dawson’s wife and his married life? Here we’re going through both of his marriages in detail. Let’s also know about his children.

Richard Dawson’s Wife Diana Dors- His Children with Her

Richard Dawson and his first wife, Diana Dors shared the conjugal life for around nine years during the late ’50s and ’60s. Dors was an English actress and singer. Dawson married Dors on 12 April 1959.

Meanwhile, Dawson was married to Dennis Hamilton before she married Dawson. Her first husband died on 3 January 1959. Shortly after her spouse’s death, Dors started dating Dawson and within a couple of months, they walked down the aisle.

Late actor Richard Dawson and his first wife Diana Dors
Late actor Richard Dawson and his first wife Diana Dors

Within a year of their nuptials, Dawson and Dors welcomed their first child, a son, Mark Dawson on 4 February 1960. The husband and wife enjoyed their second parenthood two years later when they gave birth to a son, Gary Dawson on 27 June 1962.

Richard Dawson and his first wife Diana Dors with their first son, Mark
Richard Dawson and Diana Dors with their son, Mark

In April 1967, nearly eight years after they exchanged vows, Dawson and Dors ended their relationship. They finalized their divorce in Los Angeles in April. Following the divorce, actor Dawson received full custody of their two children.

Richard Dawson’s First Wife Diana Dors Got Married Again after the Divorce

Actress Dors couldn’t remain single for long after her divorce from Dawson. She dated Caxton Hall for a few months before she tied the knot with him on 23 November 1968. The husband and wife lived a composed married life and also welcomed a son Jason Lake together.

The happy family of three lived at Orchard Manor, Sunningdale, Berkshire until the actress died in 1984.

Diana Dors Death

Dors suffered from meningitis during the last few years of her life. Meanwhile, she was also diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1982 and underwent two surgeries to remove the cancerous tissue, however, it relapsed.

In early May 1984, she collapsed at her home near Windsor due to acute stomach pains and was admitted to BMI Princess Margaret Hospital in Windsor. She passed away on the 4th of May at the age of 52 due to ovarian cancer. She was buried at Sunningdale Catholic Cemetery.

Richard Dawson’s First Meeting with Second Wife

Richard Dawson remained unmarried for more than two decades after his divorce from his first spouse. During those long years, Dawson focused on his career in film and television. In the early ’70s, Dawson rose as a television star with his appearance in the television panel game show, Match Game. His popularity led Dawson to start his own game show in the late ’70s called Family Feud.

In Family Feud, Dawson was famous for kissing female contestants of the show which ultimately gave him the nickname of “The Kissing Bandit.” The first run of the show lasted until 1985 and during the finale, Dawson said he kissed the girls on the show for “love and luck.” And the show host indeed found love and luck both on the show. Eventually, Gretchen Johnson became Richard Dawson’s wife this time.

Here, we have a short video clip in which Dawson talks about his first meeting with Gretchen and how he went on to ask her number. Furthermore, Dawson also says how he invited her for dinner and served a couple of things that she hated for life. Have a look:

Marriage to His Second Wife & Children

Richard and Gretchen started dating following their meeting and in 1990, they welcomed their first and only child, a daughter, Shannon Nicole Dawson. A year later they became parents, and Dawson and Gretchen tied the knot in a private wedding ceremony. During the time, Dawson was away from the media due to which his marriage to Johnson remained a mystery for a long.

In 1994, Dawson started the second run of Family Feud. In the inaugural episode of the show, Dawson revealed the birth of his daughter and showed a picture of her while greeting a contestant whom he met on Match Game years before.

Richard Dawson's children Gary and Shannon Dawson
Richard Dawson’s children Gary and Shannon Dawson

Richard Dawson’s Death

Dawson and Johnson’s decades-long married life ended with the death of Dawson on 2 June 2012. Dawson took his last breath at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. His son, Gary Dawson, announced the death of his father in a lengthy Facebook post.

It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my father passed away this evening from complications due to esophageal cancer,” wrote Gary. Gary added his father was

“Surrounded by his family. He was an amazing talent, a loving husband, a great dad, and a doting grandfather. He will be missed but always remembered.”

Richard Dawson is survived by his second wife, three children, and four grandchildren.

Richard was buried in Westwood Memorial Park, Los Angeles.