On This Day: ‘Family Feud’ Aired for the First Time in 1976

by Leanne Stahulak
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Forty-five years ago today, two families stepped onto a stage for the chance to win a cash prize. With host Richard Dawson at the helm, “Family Feud” premiered for the first time on ABC on July 12, 1976.

The game has changed very little since its inception by producer Mark Goodson. Five family members take the stage, sending up one representative at a time to face each other each round. Whoever hits the buzzer first and guesses the most popular answer can take that question back to their family for the rest of them to play. Whichever family has the most points by the last round enters the Fast Money round. If the two family members who play earn enough points, the family walks away thousands of dollars richer.

“Family Feud” Hosts Over Time

“Family Feud” may follow the same format 45 years later, but the one thing that has changed is the show’s host. Inaugural host Dawson first made a name for himself by appearing on the hottest game show at the time, “Match Game.” Producer Mark Goodson also created that popular game show.

Dawson only stayed on as the host for nine years, plus a one-season return in 1994. The show went on a hiatus for three years after Dawson left, until comedian Ray Combs picked up the show and switched it to CBS. Combs hosted from 1988 – 1994 until Dawson came back for one season.

After one more four-year hiatus, “Family Feud” returned with comedian Louie Anderson as the host. In 2002, he passed the gig onto actor Richard Karn. Karn was known for being Al Borland on Tim Allen’s sitcom Home Improvement. He paved the way for actor John O’Hurley in 2006. O’Hurley was famous for being Elaine’s boss on Seinfield. And finally, in 2010, Steve Harvey took over the role, which he holds to this day.

Harvey has now overtaken Dawson as the longest consecutive “Family Feud” host of all time, clocking in at 11 years. According to the game show’s website, “Audiences can’t get enough of his snappy wardrobe and his quick wit. We love Steve just as much as our fans—and we can’t imagine the show without him.”

Harvey made history for “Family Feud,” according to this Deadline article. Deadline reports that in 2017, “Family Feud” became the “first nationally syndicated TV series ever to increase its ratings for seven consecutive years.”

Co-presidents of Debmar-Mercury syndication company Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein applauded Harvey for helping the show reach such incredible benchmarks.

“Steve Harvey’s brilliant comedic skills and timing have struck a chord with millions of viewers who want nothing more than to be entertained and laugh,” Marcus and Bernstein said. “We are incredibly thankful to FremantleMedia, its extraordinary producing team, and our station partners, which have believed so strongly in Feud since Steve became host that they awarded it with upgrades into their most heavily viewed early evening time periods. This has resulted in one of the most phenomenal ratings turnarounds in television history.”

Outsider.com