Richard Dawson, host of the quiz game show FAMILY FEUD/ABC/1976-85 was famous for his habit of kissing all of the lady contestants on the show, hence the nickname “The Prince of Puckers.”
Some people, who didn’t feel it was very appropriate for him to be sucking face with the contestants, wrote letters of disapproval. In an attempt to resolve the problem Dawson asked for a write-in-vote to finally answer the question “to kiss” or “not to kiss” on the show.
As he explained on-the-air “I’m a toucher. It’s how we expressed affection in my own family, and it just comes naturally to me. My mother always said, you can’t ever hate anyone your on kissing terms with.”
When the votes were tallied, the verdict was overwhelmingly in his favor: 14,600 to 704. Richard Dawson won an Emmy Award for Best Game Show Emcee in 1978.
NOTE: “Mmmmm-WAH!” was the sound of Dinah Shore’s classic kiss goodnight at the end of her musical/variety program THE DINAH SHORE SHOW/NBC/1951-57.
On the first night of her show quite by accident Dinah came up with a gimmick that became her trademark.
When it became apparent that the show had run some 30 seconds short, Dinah had to stretch the final scene. Taking the suggestion of set designer, Alan Handley, she blew an exaggerated kiss “Mmmmm-WAH!” to the audience off the palm of her hand.
After the first week Dinah forgot to give her good night kiss to the audience and the fans followed up with letters of concern asking her if she “didn’t love them anymore.” The kiss soon became a permanent part of her act.
Alan Handley got the idea from a cute little blonde who did a show called MARY KAYE’S NIGHTCAP, a program aired right before the station signed-off each night. Wearing a frilly nightgown and cuddled up on a bed, she announced the highlights of the next day’s programming and then ended the show by daintily kissing the palm of her hand and gently blowing the kiss at the television audience (TV Guide 1/15-21/77 p. 27).
Another program that used the kiss goodbye was THE DATING GAME/ABC/SYN/1965-80 & 1988-89 originally emceed by Jim Lange. Each program ended with a big kiss to the audience that turned into a friendly goodbye wave.
See also – “The Most Kissed Man in America“