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‘Family Feud’ Host Ray Combs Commits Suicide

June 3, 1996 GMT

GLENDALE, Calif. (AP) _ Ray Combs, a comedian who followed Richard Dawson as host of the game show ``Family Feud,″ committed suicide hours after he was taken to a hospital, police said.

Combs, 40, hanged himself at the Glendale Adventist Medical Center, an unidentified friend told Los Angeles radio station KFWB. He arrived at the hospital Saturday afternoon with a head injury.

``His death was definitely a suicide,″ said police Sgt. Tom Kuh.

Both police and hospital officials refused to comment on the report that Combs hanged himself, only saying that he died of respiratory failure. He was pronounced dead at the suburban Los Angeles hospital early Sunday, said spokeswoman Alicia Gonzalez.

Paramedics brought him to the hospital Saturday with a head injury, Gonzalez said. The Journal News in Combs’ hometown of Hamilton, Ohio, reported today that Combs hit his head falling into his Jacuzzi Saturday.

Between 1988 and 1994, Combs was the host of ``The New Family Feud,″ on CBS, a version of the ABC game show that ran between 1977 and 1985 with Richard Dawson as master of ceremonies. Dawson later replaced Combs in 1994, returning to the show that pitted families against each other in a game of survey audience questions.

In a 1988 interview with The Associated Press, Combs said he hoped the game show would turn him into another Johnny Carson.

``I realized, this was my vehicle,″ Combs said. ``Just as Carson had ‘Who Do You Trust?’ Just as Merv Griffin had another show. Just as Groucho had `You Bet Your Life.′

``There’ll be some skeptics until they see it, but they’re going to have to love me. They’re not going to be able not to.″

Combs made his stand-up comedy debut at a Holiday Inn in Indianapolis, and later moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a furniture salesman until he got full-time comedy gigs.

Most recently, he was host of another game show, ``Ray Combs’ Family Challenge,″ on the Family Channel. He operated two comedy clubs in Cincinnati but eventually closed them both.

Combs was seriously injured in a July 1994 car accident on a highway north of Los Angeles, leaving him temporarily paralyzed. He moved his wife and six children from Hamilton to Los Angeles in November 1994.

He is survived by his parents, Ray Combs Sr. and Anita Jean, his wife, Debbie, and six children.