According to his longstanding publicist, Bob Barker, the enduring host of “The Price is Right” who captivated audiences with his folksy charisma and dry wit, has passed away at the age of 99.
In a statement released on Saturday, publicist Roger Neal expressed deep sorrow as he announced the passing of Bob Barker, who was widely regarded as the world’s greatest MC of all time.
Neal acted as Barker’s public relations representative in two separate time periods. The first time spanned from 1987 to 1994, while the second occurrence commenced in the year 2020.
In 1972, when Barker was hired by producers to host “The Price Is Right,” their choice proved to be a stroke of luck. The game show had declined considerably since its heyday in the late 1950s and had been dropped by two networks before finding a home at CBS.
After Barker’s arrival, the show finally discovered its true identity, which has allowed it to continue broadcasting even fifteen years after his departure.
At Syracuse University’s Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture, the director Robert Thompson posits that the reason behind Barker’s status as an icon among game show hosts can be attributed, in part, to the duration of his career. Beginning as the host of the well-known show “Truth or Consequences” in 1956, Barker spent over fifty years on television before retiring from “The Price Is Right” in 2007.
“Bob Barker was a notable figure on two major shows that spanned from the black and white era of television to the present day, as noted by Thompson.
In addition, there are game shows where the host remains stationary behind a podium, but Barker distinguished himself by actively engaging with everyday individuals who were chosen to participate as contestants. This was a skill that he excelled at.
Robert William Barker was born in Darrington, Washington on December 12th, 1923. When he was six years old, his mother moved him to a Sioux Indian reservation in Mission, South Dakota, after his father passed away in a workplace incident. His mother, Matilda, was a schoolteacher and later remarried, causing them to relocate once again to Missouri. Following his service in the Navy during the concluding years of World War II, Barker went back to Missouri to study economics at Drury College, which is now known as Drury University. He obtained his degree from there.
After acquiring a position at a radio station in Florida, Barker quickly gained a reputation for his polished delivery. News of his talent spread swiftly through the airwaves. Following this success, he relocated to California in 1950 with the intention of launching his own radio show, called “The Bob Barker Show,” which was based in Burbank.
It is evident that television executives took notice, resulting in Barker’s initial foray into game shows in 1956 with NBC’s “Truth or Consequences.” He remained in this role for an impressive 18 years until the show’s eventual cancellation.
After Barker’s retirement, “The Price Is Right” maintained its status as the longest-running daytime game show in television history. During Barker’s tenure, he awarded various prizes to contestants on the show.
Aside from his charitable acts of giving away brand new cars, he was also a ubiquitous presence on television during various time slots. Starting in 1967, he began hosting the Miss Universe and Miss America pageants for two decades, while also taking on the role as host of the New Year’s Day Tournament of Roses Parade in 1969, a position he held for an equally extensive period of time.
In 1994, Bob Barker’s pristine reputation as a television personality took a major blow when he was accused in a lawsuit by a former model of “The Price is Right” of using her job as leverage to coerce her into having sexual relations with him. The model, Dian Parkinson, was a long-standing member of the show’s team for 19 years and had been fired only a year prior. Although Parkinson ultimately withdrew her suit, Barker was forced to openly acknowledge that their relationship had been unprofessional and extended beyond the screen.