Iconic Game Show Allegedly Made Contestants Get Herpes Test

By Jason Collins | Published

Family Feud has been a staple of American television since its debut in 1976, and while it has been recognized as such, Family Feud has occasionally been a source of controversy, mainly due to the more risqué or suggestive questions, but also the hosting style of some of its hosts. A perfect example was on-set herpes tests contestants allegedly had to take during the show’s original host Richard Dawson’s reign.

Richard Dawson Often Kissed Female Contestants

According to the Calgary Herald, the original Family Feud host, Richard Dawson, had a knack for kissing female players on the mouth during the show’s episodes. But to keep everything sanitary, tests for oral sores, which were mostly conducted by medical distaff, went down on the set. And though Dawson only kissed female contestants, male contestants also had to go through check-ups. But even more interesting is the fact of policy implementations regarding these assessments and how they came to be.

Richard Dawson

As previously stated, Richard Dawson was Family Feud’s original host, and he ran the show from its inception in 1976 to 1985. As we previously stated, he had a knack for kissing female contestants, and that’s a lot of kisses in the nearly ten years he had spent on the show. As you might imagine, his behavior didn’t really suit everyone, and several game show fans were repulsed by it. Several open letters have been published across the printed media, slamming Family Feud for its “promiscuous kissing.”

The Risks

Furthermore, one physician publicly expressed his concerns regarding the risks Richard Dawson takes in kissing every female contestant on Family Feud. He then added that the list of diseases that could be transmitted by promiscuous kissing is too long and too loathsome to recount, wondering whether Dawson or the producers take precautions to prevent infections. Of course, the showrunners could’ve come up with a simple solution—just have Dawson stop kissing everyone on the show.

Ray Combs Takes Over Hosting Duties

But that obviously didn’t happen, and the showrunners implanted a policy that required every contender to take a herpes test as preventative measures against infections and possible lawsuits. So, the kissing continued until the show ended in 1985. Family Feud was later revived in 1987 with a pilot episode, with a full release in 1988 on CBS, but this time, the new host, Ray Combs, didn’t actually kiss anyone. He hosted the show until 1994, when Dawson returned, and concluded the run in 1995.

Family Feud Today

steve harvey net worth

Since then, Family Feud has been revived through its first-run syndication with four different hosts, including Louie Anderson, Richard Karn, John O’Hurley, and Steve Harvey, who continues to run Family Feud to this day. It’s also worth noting that the original version of the show, the one with Richard Dawson, quickly climbed the ranks as the number-one game show on daytime television, but the ratings later declined as the viewing habits changed.Steve Harvey’s arrival on Family Feud boosted the rating significantly and eventually placed the game show among the top three most popular syndicated television shows in the US, with Harvey surpassing every previous host in tenure.