Legendary Host Bob Barker Passes Away at 99: A Look Back at His Journey

Bob Barker, the host of “The Price Is Right” for 35 years, passed away at the age of 99, according to his representative, Roger Neal. Barker’s demise occurred at his home, with Neal describing his life as beautiful.

CBS expressed their sorrow at the loss of a cherished member of their family with Barker’s passing. They hailed his role as the host of “The Price Is Right” for 35 years, where he transformed countless people’s dreams into reality and made everyone feel like winners when they were invited to “come on down.”

Additionally, CBS acknowledged his remarkable five-decade broadcasting career and his commitment as an animal rights advocate, marking him as an iconic star of daytime television.

Barker’s television presence spanned over 50 years. Prior to hosting the long-standing CBS game show, he led one of the nation’s early televised game shows, “Truth or Consequences,” for nearly two decades, earning him a place in the Guinness World Records as television’s “most durable performer.”

On “Truth or Consequences,” Barker captivated audiences with his witty remarks and straightforward demeanor. Each December 21, Barker and show creator Ralph Edwards would toast to the day in 1956 when Edwards informed Barker – who lacked prior television experience – that he was selected as the host.

Barker remained with the program for 18 years, referring to it as a “fun show,” as he discussed during a chat promoting his memoir at the Google office in Santa Monica, California.

In 1972, Barker embarked on hosting a revival of “The Price Is Right,” a show that originally aired in the ’50s and ’60s.

He held this role for an impressive 35 years. Barker’s amiable demeanor made him a hit with the audience; some contestants even requested kisses, to which Barker once obliged by planting a kiss on a fan’s lips as he leaned her backward. Another fan humorously recounted a dream of Barker chasing her in a hayloft.

Barker’s career was adorned with 19 Emmy Awards, including 14 as the host of “The Price Is Right,” four as the show’s executive producer, and a lifetime achievement award. In 2004, he gained entry into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.

Born in Darrington, Washington, on December 12, 1923, Robert Barker’s parents were Matilda, a schoolteacher, and Byron, an electrical power foreman. He spent much of his early life on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, where he was a tribal citizen. After his father’s unfortunate passing in 1929, Barker’s mother remarried, and the family relocated to Springfield, Missouri, eight years later.

During high school at the age of 15, Barker encountered his future wife, Dorothy Jo Gideon, and their bond grew strong. Their first date on November 17, 1939, consisted of attending an Ella Fitzgerald concert, and from that point onward, they remained inseparable until her demise in 1981 due to lung cancer.

Barker attended Drury College in Springfield and later joined the Navy as a fighter pilot during World War II. After the war, he graduated summa cum laude with a degree in economics. Following this, he made his way to Los Angeles, where he began hosting his own radio show, “The Bob Barker Show,” before transitioning to television.

Barker’s sole feature film appearance was in the 1996 movie “Happy Gilmore,” where he engaged in a comedic fight with the star, Adam Sandler. Barker often fielded questions about this scene from his “The Price Is Right” audience.

Since its revival in 1972 with Barker as the host, “The Price Is Right” has produced over 9,500 episodes at the Television City lot in Los Angeles. The show was set to relocate with a new host, Drew Carey, in the upcoming year.

Beyond his illustrious television career, Barker was renowned for his advocacy for animals. He even testified before Congress in favor of a federal ban on using elephants in traveling shows and rides.

In 1987, during the Miss USA pageant, he garnered attention for refusing to host if contestants wore real fur, prompting producers to opt for synthetic furs. Barker resigned from the role the following year after producers persisted in awarding fur coats.

PETA President Ingrid Newkirk hailed Barker as a global animal rights treasure, emphasizing his impact on animals worldwide. Barker demonstrated his commitment through significant endowments to law schools in various universities, supporting animal rights law studies.

He founded the DJ&T Foundation in 1995, dedicated to providing free or low-cost spaying or neutering services to control animal overpopulation. After nearly three decades of support, the foundation ceased operations in 2022.

For his final “Price Is Right” episode aired on June 15, 2007, Barker concluded his run with his signature plea: “Help control the pet population. Have your pet spayed or neutered!”

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