Saturday, July 2, 2011

Ray Combs (1956-1996)

Raymond Neil Combs, Jr. was a practicing Mormon who married his childhood sweetheart and had six children with her. He also moved to Los Angeles to make it as a comedian. After a series of bit roles and a successful Tonight Show appearance where he received a standing ovation, in 1988 Combs was tapped to host a revival of the game show Family Feud. He was a sharp, straight-laced contrast with the original host, licentious British rake Richard Dawson. After six years, Combs was unceremoniously dumped and Dawson returned.

Combs' life went downhill. A back injury in a car accident left him in constant pain, his marriage ended, two comedy clubs he owned failed, and the bank foreclosed on his Ohio home. One day he wrecked his California home and the police found him bloody from repeatedly banging his head against the wall. He was admitted to a mental hospital and placed on suicide watch. Despite this, he hung himself with his bedsheets in his hospital room on July 2, 1996 at the age of 40.

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