Ray Combs Biography (Personal Life, Career)

Ray Combs was an American stand-up comedian and occasional actor, best remembered as the host of the game show Family Feud (from 1988 to 1994) and for the game show "Family Challenge".

Personal Life

The stand-up comedian was born Raymond Neil Combs Jr. on April 3, 1956 in Hamilton, Ohio where he attended the Hamilton Boys & Girls Club. The stand-up comedian was voted the Club’s Boy of the Year in 1974, an honor he was always proud of. After achieving celebrity, the comedian continued to visit the Hamilton Boys & Girls Club, where he helped with fundraising. After a college speech professor suggested a career in comedy, the comedian moved to Los Angeles in order to achieve his dream.

The stand-up comedian got married to his childhood sweetheart, Debbie Combs on 2 July 1977, and together they had six children: Raymond Neil Combs III, Kelly Jo Combs, Whitney Nicole Combs, Chelsy Jae Combs, Kirby Lee Combs and Cody Ryan Combs. In September 1995 the comic actor and his wife separated. The couple reconciled but later refilled for divorce. The stand-up comedian was a Mormon and was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In July 1994, the stand-up comedian had a car accident that nearly left him paralyzed. Being in terrible pain and having financial problems, the stand-up comedian tried suicide couple of times. In June 1996, the stand-up comedian had spent a week in the hospital for a suicide attempt and was admitted to the psychiatric ward of Glendale Adventist Medical Center. On June 2, 1996, the stand-up comedian committed suicide by hanging himself with a bedsheet in the closet of his hospital room. He was only 40 years old.


The stand-up comedian started out performing stand-up at a Holiday Inn in Indianapolis. At the beginning of his career, the comedian performed at birthday parties, weddings, school parties and he was doing audience warm-ups for sitcoms.

After moving to Los Angeles in 1983, the stand-up comedian, gained fame, performing in different comedy clubs, and having numerous TV appearances. The stand-up comedian hosted his first game show Comedy Challenge in 1986. The stand-up comic is the only person, ever, to receive a standing ovation on the first appearance on the Tonight Show in 1986 (with Johnny Carson) for the comedy routine he performed.

Pretty soon, the stand-up comedian was given warm-up duties for Amen and The Golden Girls. In 1987, the comedian became a celebrity panelist on John Davidson's version of Hollywood Squares, and was also given a brief cameo appearance as a police officer in the comedy film Overboard starring Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn.

Also, in his television and movie career, the stand-up comedian acted on an episode in The Facts of Life (1985) as a background character, and even led the audience to sing a bad rendition of the theme of The Brady Bunch on Hollywood Squares. He had appeared as a guest at WWE Survivor Series in 1992 and as a guest star on an episode of The Golden Girls.

But, what made Combs a more famous comedy star of television was Family Feud comedy show. The comedian was selected by Mark Goodson and Howard Flesher to host the version of the CBS show which began on 4 July. He remained into this show until 1 June 1996.The comic host had been traveling around the United States to promote the show and had many guest appearances on CBS' Card Sharks starring Bob Eubanks and CBS' The Price Is Right starring Bob Barker.

On June 29, 1992, CBS expanded the daytime comedy show from thirty minutes to one hour and changed the name of the show to Family Feud Challenge. In 1993 the ratings for the show slipped after the death of creator Mark Goodson and CBS canceled the daytime version of the show and later on, in 1994 they decided to replace Combs with Richard Dawson.

The stand-up comedian also made a couple of appearances for the World Wrestling Federation where he amused the capacity crowd at Indianapolis' Hoosier Dome by lashing into one of the team. He later served as a guest commentator alongside Vince McMahon and Bobby Heenan at Survivor Series 1993. The stand-up comedian made out his biography in episodes of In Living Color and 227 in Family Feud sketches. He also did a stand-up comedy routine on the TNN series “The Statler Brothers Show”.

In 1995 the stand-up comedian hosted his second and final game show "Family Challenge" which lasted until his death in 1996.

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