Legendary TV star Bob Barker, who hosted the famed game show The Price Is Right for 35 years, has died. He was 99.
Barker died at his home the morning of Saturday, August 26, his longtime publicist Roger Neal told ABC News. He was a few months shy of his 100th birthday.
“He had a wonderful life,” Neal said.
Born in 1923, Barker was raised in South Dakota and Missouri, among other places, before eventually enlisting in the United States Navy during World War II. He never saw action, and after returning home to attend college at Drury University, he got his start in radio and smaller shows.
His big break came when game show creator Ralph Edwards heard him on the air and reached out about Truth or Consequences in the mid-1950s. Barker said Edwards had hosted the show himself on radio and this was one of the TV iterations.
Almost 20 years later, in September 1972, Barker began a job that would end up being the work he is most known for: The Price Is Right. On this program, Barker would give the audience a chance to guess prices on everyday household items, from couches to cars. Getting close to the actual price was the name of the game.
“I was 48 and didn’t have any thoughts about the rest of my life. It was just another show I thought I would have fun with and be well paid for,” he told Entertainment Weekly in 2007.
With Price, Barker got to put his experience talking with and interviewing the everyday person to good use, which he said he got from his early days in radio.
One of Barker’s most memorable additions to Price was his concern for animals and animal rights. This began in the early 1980s and lasted well into his retirement in 2007. Eventually, he ended every episode by saying, “Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.” In fact, the show got rid of fur coats as prizes because of Barker.
“I myself was not aware of the cruelty to animals in the production of fur until about 1981. I said to [my producer] that I was very much involved in the anti-fur campaign and it’s embarrassing to be on the stage giving away fur coats. And he said, ‘I understand your position. They’re gone,’” Barker told EW.
Barker also started a foundation, which has contributed millions to various causes over the years.
After leaving the show in the late 2000s, Barker returned in 2013 for a special tribute on his 90th birthday. New host Drew Carey invited the legend back to the show he had made famous.
“The audience gave me a standing ovation. I had a lump in my throat the first moment I was on the show practically. It was just a thrill, a pleasure,” he told TV Guide about being honored.
The one constant for Barker from his early days in radio to The Price Is Right was his wife, Dorothy Jo Gideon, whom the host met in high school and married in 1945. Barker told ABC News in 2007 that Dorothy Jo was the driving force behind his love for audience participation, his trademark. She was also a force behind his fight to help animals.
“She was ahead of her time. She really was. She stopped wearing fur coats before anyone was stopping. She became a vegetarian before people were becoming vegetarian. And I gradually did the same thing with her,” he said.
His wife died in 1981 of lung cancer. He never remarried.
“I never had any inclination to remarry. She was my wife,” he said.
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