1972 was quite the year. While Don McLean’s “American Pie” topped the charts and Richard Nixon grappled with the Watergate scandal, the world was also introduced to Bob Barker, the charismatic host of The Price is Right, a show where cars, then valued under $4000, were up for grabs.
Bob Barker isn’t just synonymous with The Price is Right; he’s a true entertainment legend who bridged generational gaps during his 35-year tenure on the show.
This year marks Barker’s remarkable 100th birthday.
Born on an Indian reservation in South Dakota, Barker’s roots lie with the Sioux Tribe. Love blossomed for him when he met Dorothy Jo Gideon at an Ella Fitzgerald concert. Their romance led to a 1945 wedding while Barker was on a break from his training as a fighter pilot for the U.S. Navy Reserve during World War II. Although he never saw active duty, he continued his studies, eventually earning a degree in economics.
In the limelight at 99, Barker’s early broadcasting days began with a Los Angeles radio show. It wasn’t long before game show producer Ralph Edwards took notice and saw potential in him to host Truth or Consequences, the pioneering TV game show. Between 1956 and 1975, Barker’s fame skyrocketed, leading him to also host the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants.
The game-changer for Barker was in 1972 when he made his debut on The Price is Right. The show, with Barker at the helm, reached unparalleled heights.
Holding the title for the longest-running game show, The Price is Right, under Barker’s stewardship as executive producer, clinched 14 Daytime Emmy Awards for Best Game Show Host and four for his executive role.
In a 2008 interview with the Television Academy Foundation, Barker fondly remembered his late wife, saying, “She was my pillar of strength, always by my side, propelling me forward.” Sadly, in 1981, Gideon passed away from lung cancer. Barker reflected, “I never felt the need to remarry. She was irreplaceable.” However, life introduced him to Nancy Burnet, his partner for the past 40 years. Burnet attributes Barker’s impressive health to his minimal reliance on medications.
As he approached his 99th birthday, Burnet shared with Fox News Digital, “Bob’s overall health is impeccable for someone his age, with just one medication for his thyroid.”
Though the road hasn’t always been smooth. Barker has faced health challenges including surgeries and minor ailments, but Burnet’s interventions, including introducing health supplements, have been pivotal.
Post-retirement from The Price is Right, now anchored by Drew Carey, Barker has occasionally returned, including a memorable appearance on his 90th birthday.
Barker’s commitment to the show was unwavering, a sentiment echoed by Burnet, “His passion for the show was infectious, making it the success it was.” Barker’s legacy wasn’t just about game shows. His love for animals shone through, evident in his iconic sign-off message, advocating for the neutering of pets.
Barker’s dedication to animal rights is deeply personal, with his late wife Gideon serving as his primary inspiration. Through his DJ&T Foundation, named in honor of Gideon and his mother Matilda, Barker has championed animal rights causes, pouring in millions to support initiatives.
Summing up his illustrious life, Barker truly is an embodiment of dedication, passion, and influence. As he nears a century, his contributions to entertainment and animal rights shine as a beacon for others to follow.