Maybe you remember watching The Price is Right with your family as a kid, maybe you don’t. Either way, you can’t deny the show’s popularity. Bob Barker was a central part of the show’s identity for decades. He has also hosted Miss USA pageants and several other projects. Although he might be best known as a host, Barker is also a man with a long history outside of television. Here are 42 winning facts about Bob Barker.
Barker’s mother was a schoolteacher and his father, Byron Barker, was ¼ Lakota. The 1885-1940 census lists Barker as a member of the Sioux tribe.
Barker didn’t hesitate to enlist in the Navy, serving from 1942-1945. He was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade prior to leaving the service. Barker flew over eight different planes with the Navy during his service. Barker’s pilot training included months of physical training, pre-flight training, and practice landings on a carrier.
However, Barker never actually saw combat. As he says, “I was all ready to go, and when the enemy heard that I was headed for the Pacific, they surrendered.”
As Barker approaches the century mark, the topic of death becomes a more common one. However, Barker doesn’t fear the big day: “When’s it my time, I’m ready to die.”
Barker’s TV hosting career began with working part-time at KTTS-FM radio during college. Barker then moved to California to pursue a broadcasting career after World War II.
Bob Barker’s hands might be registered as weapons, since he received karate training from Chuck Norris. Barker trained with Norris for decades and is now a black belt in karate and a red belt in Tang Soo Do karate. This is probably why Barker refused to let a stunt double step in for his fight in Happy Gilmore.
Barker’s father passed away after suffering a work injury. At the time, Barker’s family lived in Missouri, and Barker’s mother struggled to find a teaching job in Depression-era America. Barker’s uncle was able to secure a teaching job for Barker’s widowed mother, and the Barker family then moved to Mission, Missouri.
Barker then lived on South Dakota’s Rosebud Indian Reservation for most of elementary school, later moving to Springfield with his family.
Bob Barker attended Drury College on a basketball scholarship, and also joined the Navy’s basketball team while he served.
After World War II, Barker returned to Drury College and graduated summa cum laude in economics in 1947, which seems like a perfect segue to watching people guess how expensive things are.
Barker’s cameo as himself in Happy Gilmore led to an infamous on-screen fight with Adam Sandler, which won the inaugural MTV Movie Award for Best Fight. Barker actually settled on starring in the film when he found out he would win the fight.
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Bob Barker’s work with The Price is Right has earned him 19 Emmys, 14 of which are for Outstanding Game Show Host. Barker’s first nomination goes back to 1979, and the Emmys also awarded Barker with a lifetime achievement award in 2000. Barker has also won Emmys as the show’s executive producer.
By 2017, Drew Carey had been hosting The Price is Right for 10 years. However, a contestant still called him “Bob” in response to one of his questions.
Continuing with his animal activism, Barker donated $1 million to Drury College—now known as Drury University. The donation helped to create the Drury University Forum on Animal Rights. The forum’s centerpiece is the university’s animal ethics course.
By the time Barker appeared in Happy Gilmore, he was already well known as the host of The Price is Right. But, as a result of his cameo, ratings for The Price is Right increased among college-aged viewers.
Barker’s first full-time radio role was with his own radio show, The Bob Barker Show. Barker then went on to host End of the Rainbow. End of the Rainbow featured Barker and co-host Art Baker visiting people who were facing difficult situations and were desperate for help. Barker then hosted NBC’s Truth and Consequences for 18 years afterward.
Although Bob Barker retired from The Price is Right in 2007, he returned with a special appearance in December 2013 to celebrate his 90th birthday. Barker also made another appearance in April 2015, where he handled the “Lucky Seven” section before turning things over to current host Drew Carey.
Bob Barker’s tenure as a host of Miss USA/Universe pageants, from 1966 to 1988, ended due to Barker’s objection to the fur coat prizes that contestants received. When the organizers refused to give different prizes, Barker was quick to step down.
Bob Barker donated $5 million to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an anti-whaling organization. In return, the organization named a ship after Barker. The Barker launched into action quickly, helping to save lives after another ship, the Ady Gil, collided with a whaling ship.
Following the 5,000th episode of The Price is Right in 1998, CBS Television City’s “Stage 33” was renamed “Bob Barker Studio.”
Bob Barker was already in the record books before joining The Price is Right. Barker’s 18-year stint with Truth or Consequences earned him a Guinness World Record for TV’s “Most Durable Performer,” for his 3,524 consecutive performances. The show asked its contestants questions, allowing them one second to answer each one.
If the contestants failed to answer, they had to perform a stunt. Basically, a more extreme version of truth or dare.
Barker considers Truth or Consequences his big break, reflecting on producer Ralph Edwards’ decision to contact him for the role. The show marked the first time Barker did a national TV show. Prior to Edwards’s death, Barker and Edwards would share lunch and a drink every December 21 to celebrate the phone call.
Barker was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 2004. To celebrate the honor, sculptor Angie Whitson created a bust that was installed at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Flame Plaza on July 8, 2004.
Barker recently purchased 460 acres of land which Donkeyland will use as a sanctuary for donkeys in California. As Barker says, “Well, I think donkeys are just about as cute as they come.” The donkeys that will inhabit the sanctuary are currently living along Reche Canyon Road, where shootings and off-roading pose a threat to their environment.
Barker also helped Donkeyland secure 27 acres back in 2016 with a $400,000 donation.
The Price is Right has a live version that tours around the US, as opposed to the version that is taped in studio. The live host, Todd Newton, has sought Barker’s advice for his own duties. The most useful tidbit that Barker gave was to spend time getting to know each contestant e.g. their name and their reason for being on the show.
Barker advised that being more familiar with the contestant makes the contestant and viewer feel more invested.
In 2017, the nonagenarian ended up in the hospital after falling and hitting his head in his bathroom. His housekeeper drove him to the hospital and Barker’s representative confirmed Barker’s health is fine. This incident follows a minor stroke in 1991, a stroke in 2002, prostate surgery in 2002, and another fall in 2015.
When asked who his favorite game show hosts are, Snoop Dogg was quick to list Bob Barker as number one. Snoop was a big fan of game shows growing up in the 70s, and can remember watching episodes with his grandmother.
Barker’s cameo in Happy Gilmore continues to impact his co-stars. Adam Sandler says a lot of fans still ask him about Bob Barker when they run into him.
Barker’s first TV appearance following his 2007 retirement was a guest-host gig with WWE’s Monday Night Raw. Donald Trump actually started the guest-host program back in 2009, when he was the storyline “owner.” Barker did what he did best, keeping the same calm demeanor he used during his career and hosted The Price is Raw, where wrestlers guessed the price of WWE gear.
Some rumors have circulated that the Bob Barker Company is named after the beloved host. The Bob Barker Company provides prison toiletries, bedding and prison uniforms, but was founded in 1970 by a North Carolina State Senator with the same name.
After suffering a fall in July 2017 and being rushed to the hospital, Barker was incorrectly pronounced dead in an August 2 article by Action News 3 which read: “Bob Barker was rushed to the emergency room after a fall that split his head open. Several hours later, he was pronounced dead.”
Aside from Happy Gilmore, Barker also appeared as himself on How I Met Your Mother. The episode “Showdown” depicts the main characters competing on The Price is Right. The sitcom’s Price is Right scene was filmed directly after a real episode. Like the character, Barney Stinson, Neil Patrick Harris also dreamed of being on The Price is Right.
Bob Barker’s last regular appearance on The Price is Right was on June 15, 2007. Barker’s retirement marks the very first time in 21 whole years that he hasn’t hosted any show on television. The final taping was enjoyed by throngs of fans who waited days in line or traveled from across the country to see Barker’s last appearance.
Barker admitted that leaving was emotional, but also stated that he “looking forward to being bored.”
Among The Price is Right fans, Barker was known for saying, “Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered,” at the end of every episode. Barker’s successor, Drew Carey, also echoes the same lines.
Jeopardy host Alex Trebek has faced scrutiny over whether he will renew his hosting contract in 2020. When asked about the factors going into his decision, Trebek cited Barker as a great example of someone who went out on a high note and didn’t wait until his pedigree diminished: “He was still doing well, but he figured, hey the time is now.”
Barker was 15 when he went on his first date with his future wife Dorothy Jo. The two attended an Ella Fitzgerald concert. Barker has also confirmed he “never had any inclination to remarry.” Photos from 2017 also show him delivering a bouquet of daisies to his wife’s grave, marking the 36th anniversary of her passing.
PETA’s downtown LA office is home to the Bob Barker building, a building Barker donated to help PETA’s cause. The building opened in 2012. Barker decided to donate to PETA specifically because he views them as the most efficient animal rights organization: “I think you get more for your dollar invested in PETA than you do with most any other organization.”
Aaron Paul, best known as Jesse Pinkman on Breaking Bad, was selected to be a contestant on The Price is Right back in 1999. Paul was quick to let Barker know he was his “idol.”
While Bob Barker was front and center for The Price is Right, announcer Rod Roddy was also a key part of the show. Roddy admitted that he started wearing Thai silk suits so that Barker’s suits wouldn’t outdo him too much.
Barker’s retirement from The Price is Right evidently left a huge hole in the game show, since it took about a year before Drew Carey was selected as a successor. Other candidates included Rosie O’Donnell.
Barker’s philosophy on the success of The Price is Right is that the show endured due to its relatability. Unlike other game shows that may focus on trivia, alienating people who do not have the knowledge, The Price is Right allows anyone to play, since we all have a better chance of guessing prices.
Bob Barker’s younger fans likely picture his silver mane when he comes to mind. Barker stopped using his hair dye in the 1980s, when he found out it was tested on animals. This boycott followed his decision to stop eating meat in 1979. Barker credits his late wife, Dorothy Jo, for making him more conscious of animal rights.
Barker has no children, but he married his high school sweetheart when he was 22. Barker’s marriage lasted for 36 years, ending with his wife’s death in 1981 from lung cancer. Barker has never remarried.
Bob Barker has been on the wrong end of numerous lawsuits. The most notable was a 1994 suit from The Price is Right model Dian Parkinson. Parkinson alleged that she was made to have sex with Barker to keep her job. Barker initially denied Parkinson's claim, but later said that the sex was consensual.
Ultimately, Parkinson dropped the suit, citing insufficient funds to pay her lawyers.
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