Bob Barker, the longtime host of CBS’ daytime game show The Price Is Right, died on Saturday. He was 99.
Barker died of natural causes at his home, his representative confirmed to TMZ.
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“We lost a beloved member of the CBS family today with the passing of Bob Barker,” CBS said in a statement. “During his 35 years as host of The Price Is Right, Bob made countless people’s dreams come true and everyone feel like a winner when they were called to ‘come on down.’ In addition to his legendary 50-year career in broadcasting, Bob will be remembered as a dedicated animal rights activist. Daytime television has lost one of its most iconic stars.”
For 35 years, Barker served as host of The Price Is Right, starting with the current version’s premiere in 1972. Wielding his signature skinny microphone while taking bids from contestants, Barker was a beloved staple of daytime TV, helping make The Price Is Right a consistent ratings winner and the longest-running game show in TV history. He retired in 2007, handing the skinny mic over to current host Drew Carey.
“Very sad day for the Price Is Right family, and animal lovers all over the world,” Carey wrote on Twitter following the news of Barker’s death. “There hasn’t been a day on set that I didn’t think of Bob Barker and thank him. I will carry his memory in my heart forever.”
Fellow former game show hosts Peter Marshall (Hollywood Squares) and Wink Martindale (Tic Tac Dough) also released statements honoring Barker.
“Long before I became an emcee, I admired Bob Barker very much,” Marshall said. “He was great at what he did, quite wonderful. I can’t claim to have been close to Bob, but when together at events we always talked about our shared love of animals. I hope everyone knows what he did for animal welfare.”
“In the history of televised game shows, no one is more synonymous with host than Bob Barker,” Martindale’s statement read. “The word that always came to my mind when the name Bob Barker was mentioned was superlative. And Bob defined the meaning of preparation. Tape never rolled until Bob is ready. And that meant prepared. It was my distinct honor and privilege to call Bob my friend for a number of years. To chat with Bob about his career was both interesting and meaningful. Bob was so successful, because he was a simple and natural talent. May he rest in peace.”
After serving in World War II as a Navy fighter pilot, Barker kicked off his broadcasting career in radio in the 1950s. He hosted the stunt-heavy TV game show Truth or Consequences for nearly two decades, along with several other short-lived game shows, before taking the hosting job at The Price Is Right. He went on to win a total of 17 Emmys, including a lifetime achievement award in 1999.
Barker’s tenure as The Price Is Right host was marred by a number of lawsuits filed against him, including an infamous 1994 sexual harassment suit filed by TPIR model Dian Parkinson, alleging a three-year affair with Barker. Several other models and employees sued Barker for wrongful termination and gender discrimination, and were awarded financial settlements out of court.
A passionate animal-rights activist, Barker became a vegetarian in 1979 and donated millions to animal-advocacy charities. After the 1981 death of his wife Dorothy Jo, who inspired his love of animals, he ended each Price Is Right broadcast with the sign-off line: “Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.” He hosted the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants from 1967 to 1987, but stepped down when organizers refused to remove fur prizes from the pageants.
Along with his work on The Price Is Right, Barker appeared as himself on a number of TV shows, including How I Met Your Mother, The Nanny and Family Guy. He also had a memorable cameo in Adam Sandler’s 1996 comedy Happy Gilmore, getting into a fistfight with Sandler’s character on the golf course.
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