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Publicist says popular game show host Bob Barker has died

A publicist says popular game show host Bob Barker, a household name for half a century as the host of “Truth or Consequences” and “The Price Is Right,” has died at his Los Angeles home. Barker was 99.

According to publicist Roger Neal, Barker – also a longtime animal rights activist – died on Saturday morning.

“I am so proud of the groundbreaking work Barker and I have done together to expose animal cruelty in the entertainment industry and also work to improve the fate of abused and exploited animals in the United States and internationally,” said Nancy Burnet , his longtime collaborator friend and mentor, in a statement.

Barker retired in June 2007, telling his studio audience, “Thank you, thank you, thank you for inviting me into your home for more than 50 years.”

Barker was working in radio in 1956 when producer Ralph Edwards invited him to audition as the new host of “Truth or Consequences,” a game show that required viewers to perform crazy stunts — the “consequence” — if they failed to answer one Question – the “truth” that was always the silly punchline to a riddle no one should ever answer. (Q: What did one eye say to the other? A: Something smells below us.)

In a 1996 interview with The Associated Press, Barker recalled receiving the news that he had been hired: “I know exactly where I was, I know exactly how I felt: I hung up and said to my wife, ‘Dorothy Jo, I got it!'”


        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

Barker stayed with “Truth or Consequences” for 18 years – including several years in a syndicated version.

Meanwhile, he began hosting a resurrected version of “The Price Is Right” in 1972. (The original host in the 1950s and 1960s was Bill Cullen.) It would become the longest-running game show on television and the last on a radio station by what were dozens in the early days of television.

“I grew old in your service,” the silver-haired, permanently tanned Barker joked in a mid-’90s prime-time television retrospective.

In total, he has recorded more than 5,000 shows in his career. He said he was retiring because “I’m just reaching the age where the constant effort of being there and making the show physical is a lot to me. … Better to be a year early (to go) than a year late.” Comedian Drew Carey was chosen as the replacement.

Barker was back for a show with Carey in April 2009. He was there to promote the release of his memoir, Priceless Memories, in which he summarized his enjoyment of hosting the show as an opportunity to “watch people reveal themselves and…” add to the excitement and humor watch them unfold.

He really understood the appeal of “The Price Is Right,” which invited viewers to “Come Down!” on stage – competed for prizes by trying to guess their retail value.

“Everyone can identify with awards, even the President of the United States. Viewers at home get involved because they all have an opinion on what’s on offer,” Barker once said. Its own appeal was clear: Barker played it plainly — warm, lovable, and funny — and refused to poke fun at the game show format or its contestants.

“I want the contestants to feel like they’re guests in my house,” he said in 1996. “Maybe the audience can sense my respect for them, and that might be one of the reasons I persevered.”

As a TV personality, Barker kept a touch of the old school — no wireless mic for him, for example. Like the mic itself, the mic cable served as a support when freely moved and tweaked.

His career longevity was the result of his contentment, he said. “I’ve had the opportunity to do this type of show and I’ve found that I enjoy it … people doing something they really enjoy and they started doing it when they were very young, me.” don’t think they want to stop it.”

Barker also hosted the Miss USA pageant and Miss Universe pageant for 20 years. A longtime animal rights activist who daily urged viewers to “have their pets spayed or neutered” and successfully campaigned to ban fur coats as prizes on The Price Is Right, he resigned in 1987 in protest at the presentation of Miss USA competition from fur coats to the winners.

“I am so proud of the groundbreaking work Barker and I have done together to expose animal cruelty in the entertainment industry and also work to improve the fate of abused and exploited animals in the United States and internationally,” said Nancy Burnet , his longtime collaborator friend and mentor, in a statement. Burnet is now also co-executive of Barker’s estate.

In 1997, Barker declined to host the Daytime Emmy awards ceremony, saying it would snub game shows because no awards were presented in that category. He called game shows “the pillars of daytime television.”

He made a memorable cameo appearance on the big screen in 1996 when he fought Adam Sandler in the film Happy Gilmore. “I did ‘The Price Is Right’ for 35 years and they ask me what it was like beating up Adam Sandler,” Barker later joked.

In 1994, widowed Barker was sued for sexual harassment by Dian Parkinson, an 18-year-old “Price is Right” model. Barker admitted to having “had a handkerchief” with Parkinson’s from 1989 to 1991, but said she initiated the relationship. Parkinson dropped the lawsuit in 1995 on the grounds that it harmed her health.

Barker got into a falling out with another former Price Is Right model, Holly Hallstrom, who claimed she was fired in 1995 because the show’s producers believed she was fat. Barker denied the allegations.

None of the uproar affected his goodwill with the audience.

Barker was born in Darrington, Washington, in 1923 and spent part of his childhood on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, where his widowed mother had taken a job teaching. The family later moved to Springfield, Missouri, where he attended high school. During World War II he served in the Navy.

He married Dorothy Jo Gideon, his high school sweetheart; She died in 1981 after 37 years of marriage. They had no children.

Barker received a lifetime achievement award at the 26th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards in 1999. He ended his words of thanks by saying, “Get your pets spayed or neutered.”

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