It is so unfortunate how Ray Combs had his career and life peter away in such tragic circumstances. Full of life and blessed with tons of charisma to burn, Combs was a natural comic and could effortlessly hold any crowd spellbound.
Ray was born on the 3rd of April 1956, in Hamilton, Ohio and attended Garfield High School, where he started to display his talent for stage performance.
He started off his career performing in small gigs at Cincinnati In 1979. By 1982 Combs moved to L.A after he saw the quality of performances on The Tonight Show and was convinced that he had what takes to cut it at the top level. He quit his job as a salesman at a furniture company to make the move to LA.
5 Things You Didn’t Know About Ray Combs
1. Ray was Hired to Revive the Family Feud Show
Ray’s charm and zest were employed to good effect to revive the faltering TV game show Family Feud in 1988. The show which was created by Mark Goodson first had its run in on TV between 1976 and 1985. As reviews dropped and ratings plummeted they took on Ray Combs as a hot to revive its fortunes. The immediate impact was positive as ratings went up again. The relaunch aired on July 4th, 1988 on CBS with syndicated versions airing much later. Combs embarked on an extensive nationwide tour to promote the show to good effect.
2. Combs was Fired as Host in 1994
After a successful first three years, Family Feud began to struggle. Ratings were going down and networks were beginning to drop the show or move it out of prime time. Following the death of the show’s producer and Chairman of Mark Goodson Productions – Mark Goodson, the company opted to go in a new direction. The newly installed Chairman of Mark Goodson Productions opted to re-hire the original show host whom Combs had replaced initially – Richard Dawson.
It is fair to say Ray Combs didn’t take this well as his career took a downward spiral from then on. The one-time darling of comedy was now out of stock and was finding it tough to find gigs.
3. He Survived an Accident That Left Him Paralyzed for a While
As though the year 1994 couldn’t go any worse, in July, Ray Combs was involved in a terrible car accident that left the disc in his spine broken. He would be confined to a wheelchair but was eventually able to walk again. The occasional excruciating pain, however, was one he’d have to leave with for the rest of his life.
4. Combs Committed Suicide After Initial Unsuccessful attempts at Taking His Life
Life after Family Feud would never be the same again for Ray Combs. Roughly a year after his car accident, Ray and his wife of 18 years separated. Though they’d later attempt to work things out, the relationship would never get back to normal.
Ray tried his hands at other projects in a bid to revive his career but was ultimately unsuccessful. He conceptualized a new talk show and went as far as shooting a pilot but no network would take a chance on it.
A combination of marital challenges, career failures, and poor health led Ry Combs to attempt suicide on multiple occasions. The most disturbing was on the 1st of June 1996 when police were called in as he was attempting to kill himself by banging his head against the wall. Ray Combs was immediately admitted into the psychiatric ward of Glendale Adventist Medical Center where he was checked into a room for observation. Potentially harmful objects were taken away bearing in mind his suicidal tendencies. Despite their best efforts, Combs was found dead the next day after he hung himself with a noose made from the hospital’s bedsheets.
5. Combs was Neck Deep in Debt at the Time of His Death
One of the reasons for Ray Combs demise must have been his poor financial state at the time of his death. Though at the peak of his powers Combs was well paid, earning up to $1 million yearly. His financial statements show he had a very tough time managing his resources effectively.
Ray Combs was indebted to the tune of $100,000 in unpaid taxes and also had an outstanding $470,000 mortgage payment. He owed $150,000 on his credit card at the time of his death.