Within the first weeks of “Family Feud,” contestants and fans noticed Richard Dawson greeting all of the female contestants with a kiss. As reported by Good Housekeeping, Dawson got the idea when he was faced with a contestant who was visibly nervous.
The female contestant was tasked with naming a green vegetable. When she faltered, Dawson said, “I’m gonna do something that my mom would do to me whenever I had a problem of any kind. … And I kissed her on the cheek, and I said, ‘That’s for luck.’” After Dawson gave her a kiss, Good Housekeeping reports the contestant gave the answer, “asparagus,” and her family went on to win the game.
Although Dawson’s kisses, which were sometimes on the cheek or hand, and often on the lips, seemed to be popular with contestants and fans, the show’s executives were hesitant to let him continue.
As reported by Good Housekeeping, Dawson conducted a poll to find out how the contestants and viewers really felt about the kisses. Out of 15,304 viewers, 14,600 said they were in favor of the kissing. Only 704 said they were opposed. A vast majority of the contestants, who filled out questionnaires before appearing on the show, also said they would not mind being kissed by the show’s host.
Despite the overwhelming acceptance of Dawson’s habit of kissing female contestants on “Family Feud,” critics have suggested it was a form of sexual harassment.