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‘Family Feud’ Host Ray Combs Commits Suicide

June 3, 1996

GLENDALE, Calif. (AP) _ Former game show host Ray Combs hanged himself with bedsheets in a hospital psychiatric ward after weeks of suicide attempts, including banging his head on walls, police said today.

The 40-year-old onetime host of ``The New Family Feud″ was taken to Glendale Adventist Medical Center on Saturday with head injuries and was admitted for 72 hours of observation, Sgt. Rick Young said.

About 14 hours later, hospital staff found Combs hanging in a closet. There was no suicide note.

Because the hospital was informed of the previous suicide attempts, Combs was in a secured room _ one that should contain nothing a patient could use to harm himself. But he was not under constant supervision, Young said.

There was no indication he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol when he was admitted, Young said.

Combs was host of the game show from 1988 to 1994, when he was replaced by his own predecessor, Richard Dawson.

In a 1988 interview with The Associated Press, Combs discussed how he would be compared with the popular Dawson.

``I don’t hesitate to follow Richard at all,″ Combs said. ``People say those are big shoes to fill. I don’t have to wear his shoes. I’ve got my own.″

Combs made his stand-up comedy debut at a Holiday Inn in Indianapolis, where David Letterman got his first break. Combs greatest dream was to be on the ``Tonight Show″ with his idol, Johnny Carson, he said.

``That’s why I went to California,″ Combs said. ``I would go to bed, and I would dream I was on Johnny Carson.″

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. He wanted to concentrate on a television career, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

Combs suffered several personal and professional setbacks in recent years, including being replaced by Dawson.

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.

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