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Bob Barker, beloved host of The Price is Right, has died. He was 99.
“It is with profound sadness that we announce that the World’s Greatest MC who ever lived, Bob Barker has left us,” Barker’s longtime publicist Roger Neal said in a statement Saturday.
Barker spent more than a half century on TV — first getting his break on popular game show Truth or Consequences in 1956. He took over on The Price Is Right in 1972, and he turned out to be exactly the spark the show needed. The show had faded from its 1950s glory days, and two networks passed on the show before it landed at CBS.
Known for his comforting charm and dry humor, Barker was a staple of daytime television until his retirement in 2007. And it was the sheer longevity of his career that made it so remarkable.
“From the black and white era of television right up to the new century, Bob Barker had a real presence on two really big shows,” Robert Thompson, the director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, said.
“Secondly, you’ve got some game shows where the host just stands behind a podium, but Barker really interacted with regular people who were selected as contestants. And he was particularly good at it.”
The Price Is Right became the longest-running daytime game show in TV history in 1990, and Barker won the Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement later that decade.
Bob Barker Was Truly Made For TV
And when he wasn’t giving away washing machines, dream vacations and the keys to brand new cars, Barker was a fixture in other shows.
In 1967, he began a 20-year run as emcee of the Miss Universe and Miss America pageants. And in 1969, he began hosting the New Year’s Day Tournament of Roses Parade.
Of course, there was also his epic cameo on Happy Gilmore.
In addition to his achievements in showbiz, Barker was a staunch animal rights activist. And his passion for animals came from an unlikely source: The first prize he ever gave away as host of The Price Is Right was a fur coat.
“I went to Mark Goodson [the producer] and told him I didn’t want to be on the stage with these fur coats,” Barker told CBS This Morning in 2013. “So he took fur coats off our show.”
In 1995, Barker founded the DJ&T Foundation to connect pet owners with low-cost spay and neuter clinics as a way to relieve canine overpopulation.
And in 2013, Barker donated $1 million to move three captive elephants from the Toronto Zoo to a sanctuary in California.
“I am so proud of the trailblazing work Barker and I did together to expose the cruelty to animals in the entertainment industry and including working to improve the plight of abused and exploited animals in the United States and internationally,” Barker’s longtime friend Nancy Burnet said. “We were great friends over these 40 years.”
Bob Barker: TV legend. Animal lover. Not sure any game show host will ever compare.
So in Bob’s honor, we’ll end this tribute with the same words he used to end every episode of The Price Is Right.
“Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.”