Richard Dawson gave a heartfelt goodbye to Family Feud on June 14, 1985. During his final speech, Dawson talked about why he kissed so many contestants and how his mother inspired him to appreciate people of all races and colors.
Below is the video of Dawson’s farewell speech, and here is the text of his speech. No matter what you thought about Dawson and his tendency to get a little too close to female contestants, his words in his farewell speech are truly inspiring.
So, the Mackins were our final winning family, and they’ve won $5,504, and I’m proud of ’em. I’ve had the most incredible luck in my career. I’ve done lots and lots of jobs, and I’ve never, ever had a job like “Family Feud.” I’ve never DREAMED I would ever have a job where so many people could touch me and I could touch them. And it was… there was a great magic about this show that I’ve never seen on any other show. I want to publicly acknowledge Howard Felsher, who is our Executive Producer.
He was a producer in the beginning of the show, and he helped steer and guide the way that we went. And he and I fall a lot of times, but I tell you that he is important and I should acknowledge him, because he was the one, with me, that, we said, “Let ANYBODY come on this show, anyone that can play this game, no matter what color or creed, no matter if they’re in a wheelchair or they have no sight.” And we’ve HAD everybody on this show, and he was very, very important in that and I acknowledge and thank him for it. I thank my crew, and I thanked my director already. I have the best staff you’ve ever dreamed of. You can’t… but you don’t have to dream of them, ’cause I’m gonna take them with me. Even if I never work again, they’ll just be near me. They are so special and wonderful. ABC – Jackie Smith, Wally Weltman, Joe C. Albott – they kept us on the air probably a year more than they should have, ’cause we weren’t really helping them. You know, our ratings weren’t that good. They were so great. They buried themselves carrying us, and I love them for that, not that I wanted to hurt ’em, but I… because I love ’em. They were good people.
There were people I know that got upset that I kissed people; I kissed them for luck and love, that’s all. That’s what my mother did to me. There were people upset that I would embrace or hug someone of another color. The first time I ever saw people of any color was when D-Day left from my hometown in England, to go and free Europe from the war. And there was every color you could imagine, and I’d not seen that in England. And I asked my mother about it; I said, “Is there something wrong?” She said, “God… God makes people. You understand that, don’t you?” And I said, “Yeah!” She said, “Who makes a rainbow?” I said, “God.” She said, “I never presumed to tell anyone who could make a rainbow what color to make children.” And she changed my whole life with that statement.
All I can tell you is, this has been a very special 9 years of my life! If I never do another thing, I’ve met the good, sweet people of the world. So I leave you, with love, and for the little girl that, nine years ago, I first signed to – I guess she’s 13, now – I’ll think of you every day. God bless all the little children in the world. Thank you.