Bob Barker, Iconic Host of 'The Price Is Right,' Dies at 99
Written by: Sam Orlando
STAUNTON, VA - Legendary television host Bob Barker, best known for his 35-year stint on "The Price Is Right," passed away at the age of 99, according to his representative, Roger Neal. Barker died at home, surrounded by the comfort that only a lifetime of cherished memories can provide.
A Pioneering Career Spanning Over Five Decades
Barker was not just a television host; he was a fixture in American homes for over half a century. Before enchanting audiences on "The Price Is Right," he hosted "Truth or Consequences" for almost 20 years. The gig landed him a spot in the Guinness World Records for being television’s "most durable performer."
Barker’s authentic, plainspoken style was already in evidence during his "Truth or Consequences" days. The show’s creator, Ralph Edwards, along with Barker, would celebrate the anniversary of his hiring every December 21 with a toast—remarkable given that Barker had no previous experience in television before landing the job in 1956.
In 1972, Barker started hosting a revival of "The Price Is Right," a show that had previously aired in the '50s and '60s. Barker's charismatic and affable manner quickly won over the show's participants and viewers alike, leading to heartwarming and sometimes even quirky interactions. His natural connection with the audience even prompted some to ask for kisses—a request he charmingly honored.
A Legacy Honored
Throughout his career, Barker amassed a staggering 19 Emmy Awards—14 for his hosting duties on "The Price Is Right," four as the show’s executive producer, and one lifetime achievement award. In 2004, he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame, further solidifying his standing as an icon of American television.
Early Life and Personal Achievements
Born in Darrington, Washington, on December 12, 1923, Barker spent most of his early years on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, of which he was a citizen. His mother was a schoolteacher and county superintendent of schools, and his father was an electrical power foreman. After his father’s tragic death in 1929, the family eventually relocated to Springfield, Missouri.
In high school, at age 15, Barker met Dorothy Jo Gideon. They fell in love and were inseparable until her passing in 1981. Barker served as a fighter pilot in the Navy during World War II and later graduated summa cum laude with a degree in economics from Drury College.
Beyond Television: An Advocate for Animal Rights
Barker also left a mark outside of the TV studio, particularly as a stalwart advocate for animal rights. He testified before Congress, pushing for a ban on the use of elephants in traveling shows and rides. In 1987, he made headlines when he refused to host the Miss USA pageant if contestants wore real furs. Barker also donated generously to law schools, including Harvard, Duke, and Columbia, to support the study of animal rights law.
He founded the DJ&T Foundation in 1995, named after his late wife and mother, to support spay and neuter clinics and control animal overpopulation. The foundation ceased activities in 2022 after nearly 30 years of dedicated service.
A Farewell Message
Barker concluded his final episode of "The Price Is Right" in 2007 with a message that encapsulated his life's dual passions for entertainment and activism: "Help control the pet population. Have your pet spayed or neutered!"
He may have left the stage, but his legacy will forever be a part of American cultural history.