Debbie Combs says she's carrying $500,000 in debts. She lost the family's five-bedroom home in Glendale, California, in a $468,000 foreclosure and next month will move with her six children, ages 5 to 18, to a two-bedroom rental. They've been living on Social Security and food handouts from a Glendale church pantry while an attorney sorts through the family's tangled finances.
Ray earned a reported $800,000 annually from 1988 to 1994 on Family Feud. But he was secretive about money, his widow says, even as their debts mounted last year and they faced foreclosures on two homes in Ohio, their home state. "I could see the trouble coming, but money wasn't an issue to Ray," she says. "He'd say, 'You don't have to worry about that'--which worried me."
The biggest outstanding bill yet discovered: $82,000 owed on a failed comedy club in Cincinnati. Combs, a stand-up comic for 16 years, "kept putting money into it, because he wanted it to succeed. The dream turned into a nightmare," says Debbie.
Donations to a memorial account at Glendale Federal Bank helped pay some of the family's funeral expenses. Now, there's talk of a stand-up comedy fundraiser. "People have been very, very helpful now," Debbie says. "But I worry a lot about where they will be in a year." She's been working part-time transcribing audio tracks for Discovery channel documentaries at home; when her mother arrives next week to help take care of the kids, she says she'll seek full-time work.