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International News: Television icon and ‘The Price is Right’ host Bob Barker dead at 99

Posted: Sunday, August 27, 2023. 9:20 am CST.

Photo Credit: NBC News

By Aaron Humes: Bob Barker, the longtime host of television’s The Price Is Right who used his combination of comfort-food charm and deadpan humor to become an American television staple, has died, according to his longtime publicist. He was 99, reports NBC News.

Long introduced as the “star” of the iconic game show, he became known for his steady hand in reviving a moribund franchise following the scandals of the 1960s, and for his dedication to animal welfare, invariably ending each broadcast saying, “Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.”

Barker spent more than half a century on American television screens, starting with the game show Truth or Consequences in 1956, and concurrently with his time on Price began a 20-year run as emcee of the Miss Universe and Miss America pageants, and in 1969 he started a similarly long run as the host of the New Year’s Day Tournament of Roses Parade. He ultimately retired in 2007, handing over to current host Drew Carey apart from a one-off April Fools’ appearance in 2013.

Robert Thompson, the director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, noted, “…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.”

Born in Washington and spending part of his life on a Sioux Indian reservation in South Dakota, he would break into media at a radio station in Florida, then on to California to start his own radio program, “The Bob Barker Show,” in Burbank, before being hired for Truth or Consequences on NBC in 1956.

Barker’s made-for-television image took a huge hit in 1994, when a former Price model accused him in a lawsuit of threatening to fire her if she didn’t have sex with him. Although the model, Dian Parkinson — a 19-year veteran of the show who had been fired the previous year — ultimately dropped the suit, Barker was forced to admit publicly that the two had had a less-than-professional relationship off screen. Barker’s wife, his high school sweetheart, Dorothy Jo Gideon, had died years before, in 1981. They married in 1945. The scandal didn’t prevent Barker from being given an Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement.

In the area of animal rights, he founded a charity in 1995 that provided just services for pet owners — the DJ&T Foundation, named after his wife and her mother. His passion for the cause can be traced to the first prize he gave away as host of “The Price Is Right” — a fur coat – when he said he told producer Mark Goodson he would not give away any more.

 

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