Goodbye, Corporal Newkirk—”Hogan’s Heroes,” “Family Feud” Star, Richard Dawson, Dead at 79

Richard Dawson as “Corporal Newkirk” (seated, center) has died at age 79 of esophageal cancer. Of the show’s original five allied prisoner-of-war “heroes,” only Robert Clary who portrayed the French Corporal Louie LeBeau (far left) is still alive. (Photo: CBS Television)

And then there was one…

Dawson (right) laughs between takes on the set of TV’s Hogan’s Heroes. (Photo: CBS Television)

Hogan’s Heroes has always been one of my all-time favorite shows. My earliest memory of the show comes from way back in 1968, when as a kid, I would march vigorously around in our living room, pumping my arms and legs, parading around in perfect time to the show’s opening theme song and its rousing military drumbeat.

Years later, I was fortunate enough to correspond with one of the show’s stars, Larry Hovis (aka Sgt. Carter) a few times via email. And today, I own the complete series DVD set, just so that I can rewatch all of the episodes—over and over again (march, march, march!).

Dawson as shown in the opening credits of “Hogan’s Heroes.” (Photo: CBS Television)

But time too, has a way of marching on as well. And with the recent passing of beloved character actor, performer and television personality, Richard Dawson, at age 79 of esophageal cancer, only one of the show’s original five allied prisoner-of-war “heroes” remains alive (Robert Clary aka LeBeau).

Bottom Line: Of course, after Hogan’s Heroes, Dawson went on to even greater fame as a guest on Match Game and ultimately as the host of the daytime game show, Family Feud. But it was his portrayal of the wise-cracking, RAF Corporal Newkirk back in ‘Heroes that I will always remember most fondly. Every time he’s in a scene placing another phony phone call as the gravelly-voiced “General Newkirkheim” or other such silliness, I’m on the floor, laughing like a kid again.

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