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Ray Combs, Former Host of 'Family Feud,' Dead of Suicide

June 03, 1996|ABIGAIL GOLDMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ray Combs, the 40-year-old former host of TV's "The New Family Feud" game show, committed suicide, dying Sunday at Glendale Adventist Hospital a day after he had been admitted for an unrelated head injury, authorities said.

Neither hospital officials nor Glendale police, who are investigating along with the county coroner's office, would say how the TV game show host killed himself.

Glendale Police Lt. Stephen Campbell said only that Combs died of "respiratory failure unrelated to his head trauma." Hospital spokeswoman Alicia Gonzalez could not comment on reports that Combs hanged himself in his hospital room.

She too attributed his death to respiratory failure unrelated to the head injury. He had been admitted Saturday afternoon with the blunt force trauma injury, said Gonzalez.

The Journal News in Hamilton, Ohio, Combs' hometown, reported that Combs had fallen in his Jacuzzi on Saturday and struck his head.

Combs had suffered several personal and professional setbacks in recent years, including being replaced by his predecessor, Richard Dawson, in 1994 after six years on the TV show. Later in 1994 he suffered a swollen spinal disk and temporary paralysis after a speeding car sideswiped his vehicle on the Ventura Freeway and a second car rear-ended it.

His next TV venture, "The Love Psychic," which he said would "offer the psychic truth about contestants and their responses," was short-lived.

Combs, an Ohio native, operated two comedy clubs in Cincinnati. He abandoned the first in 1990 after a court dispute with a partner. He opened the second in 1991 and closed it in 1995 to concentrate on a television career.

Combs, who as a young man served as a Mormon missionary for two years in Arizona, had six children. A cover story on him in a church publication heralded him as "TV's first LDS [Latter-day Saints] game show host."

He is also survived by his parents, Ray Combs Sr. and AnitaJean, and his wife, Debbie.

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