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Widow of Comedian Ray Combs Says Family in Debt

July 29, 1996 GMT

CINCINNATI (AP) _ Television comedian and game show host Ray Combs, who killed himself eight weeks ago, left his family with at least $500,000 in debts, his widow said.

``I don’t have anything,″ Debbie Combs told The Cincinnati Enquirer in a story published today.

Between 1988 and 1994, Combs was the host of ``The New Family Feud.″ He hanged himself June 2 in a suburban Los Angeles hospital where he was under observation for mental problems. He was 40.

Mrs. Combs told the newspaper she and her six children, ages 5 to 18, have struggled ever since, relying on Social Security and meals from a church food pantry while lawyers try to straighten out her late husband’s finances.

Their five-bedroom home was lost in a $467,675 foreclosure, she said. The lawyers found an $82,000 debt from Combs’ Cincinnati comedy club that closed 18 months ago, assorted credit card and telephone bills, and a $600 auto license renewal fee overdue since December, Mrs. Combs said.

She said her husband lost much of their money running the Ray Combs Cincinnati Comedy Connection in downtown Cincinnati from 1991 until it closed in 1995.

Mrs. Combs and her husband grew up together in Hamilton, a Cincinnati suburb. They were married in 1977, three years after graduating from high school.

Her husband was subject to mood swings and increasingly erratic behavior in recent years, Mrs. Combs said. She tried to talk with him about their mounting debts and offered to go back to work, but he dismissed such talk, she said.

Police said Combs was anguished over a pending divorce, but Mrs. Combs denied that she had asked for one.

``I would have done anything to make it work,″ she said. ``I’m against divorce but I’m not a magician. I didn’t know what to do, other than ask him to seek help.″