Bob Barker, Price is Right host, dies at 99

Bob Barker, Price is Right host, dies at 99
Bob Barker passed away on Saturday at his home in the Hollywood Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. For nearly four decades, as "The Price Is Right" presenter, Barker's warmth and wit drew throngs of excited Americans to a stage by promising them opulent trips and brand-new cars. He was 99.

Roger Neal, a spokesman, made the announcement of his death.

In addition to being a longtime and well-known supporter of animal rights, Mr. Barker spent half a century as a fixture on daytime television, first as the host of "Truth or Consequences" from 1956 to 1974 and, most notably, beginning in 1972, on "The Price Is Right," the longest-running game show on American television.

When "The New Price Is Right," as it was then known, made its CBS debut as a revamped and jazzed-up version of the original "The Price Is Right," which had been broadcast from 1956 to 1965, he began his 35-year tenure as its host. (The "New" in the name was soon removed.) In addition, he hosted a nighttime version of a weekly syndicated show from 1977 until it was cancelled in 1980.

More than 40,000 contestants responded to the announcer's well-known call to "come on down!" and amassed roughly $200 million in small and large prizes, ranging from beach blankets to Buicks, during Mr. Barker's tenure, he estimated almost a decade before his retirement in 2007.

In addition to a lifetime achievement Emmy in 1999, Mr. Barker received 14 Daytime Emmy Awards for his work as "The Price Is Right" host and four more for his work as executive producer. He once claimed that the reason why the show had endured so long was that "all of our games are based on prices, and everyone can identify with that." However, he went on to say that he had never personally learned the cost of anything and that if he had ever competed on such a show, he would have been "a total failure."

Mr. Barker was well known for his commitment to the cause of animal welfare over a lengthy period of time. In 1988, he resigned from his position as master of ceremonies for the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants because the prizes were fur coats. Additionally, he voiced his opposition to the mistreatment of animals on the sets of numerous films and television programs by their handlers. Every episode of "The Price Is Right" had a line from him that said, "Help limit the pet population. Have your pet fixed or spayed.

On December 12, 1923, Robert William Barker was born in Darrington, Washington. Power line foreman Byron, the father of the boy, passed away in 1929 as a result of complications from injuries sustained in a fall from a pole a few years previously. Soon after, his mother Matilda (Tarleton) Barker accepted a position as a teacher in Mission, South Dakota, which is home to the Rosebud Indian Reservation.

Mr. Barker recalls those times as being when "cowboys tied up their horses at hitching rails." It seemed as though I were growing up in the Wild West.

When Mr. Barker was 13 years old, his mother wed tire salesman Louis Valandra, and they relocated to Springfield, Missouri. When World War II started, he was given a basketball scholarship to Drury College in Springfield, but he left school to join the Naval Aviation Cadets instead.

When the war was over, he was waiting for a combat assignment and was dismissed as a lieutenant junior grade. He went back to Drury, changed his major to economics, and earned a summa cum laude diploma in 1947.

Mr. Barker started his first radio job at KTTS in Springfield even before he received his degree. There, he worked as a disc jockey, news writer, sportscaster, and producer. His first jobs out of college were at KWIK in Burbank, California, and WWPG in Palm Beach, Florida.

His high school girlfriend Dorothy Jo Gideon, with whom he wed in 1945, once revealed the secret to their union in the following words: "I love Bob Barker. Bob Barker also adores Bob Barker. He never remarried after her death in 1981.

Kent Valandra, Mr. Barker's half-brother, is left behind. His care had been being managed by Mr. Barker's old friend Nancy Burnet, a fellow animal rights activist of whom he had written in his memoirs, "Our relationship has gone on for 25 years, off and on. — serves as the executor of his estate.
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