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People Top 5
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- June 17, 1996
- Vol. 45
- No. 24
The Rise Was Fast, the Fall Fatal for Ex-Family Feud Host Ray Combs
Though he spent two years as a Mormon missionary in Arizona, Combs wanted to be a comic, and in his mid-208 he went to L.A. to work the clubs. Then in 1986 he did a standup spot on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and got a standing ovation. Shortly afterward he had an offer to host Feud. But the show never really took off, and in 1994 the producers persuaded its original host, Richard Dawson, to return. "Losing Family Feud was a huge blow because it became his world," says the show's director, Marc Breslow.
By last year, Combs realized he was losing his wife too. The couple had filed for divorce in 1995 but reconciled. Recently, however, they refiled. On June 1, a friend of Combs's called police in Glendale, where Combs was living with wife Debbie and their six children, who range from kindergartners to teens. Sgt. Rick Young says the friend described Combs as "agitated and very upset" about the disintegration of his marriage. When police arrived, they found the house in disarray, and Combs alone, bleeding from bashing his head against a wall. "He needed help," says Young. Hairdresser Larry St. George, an old friend, thinks Combs never recovered from the realization that he wouldn't be the next Johnny Carson. "I guess he just climbed to the top and looked down," he says. "Then he realized there was no other way to go."
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