Bob Barker, Price is Right Host, Dead at 99

Bob Barker, the television personality who hosted the game show The Price is Right for 35 years, has died at age 99.

Barker passed away on Saturday, August 26th, due to natural causes, his representative, Roger Neal, announced. “It is with profound sadness that we announce that the World’s Greatest MC who ever lived, Bob Barker has left us,” Neal said in a statement.

Adam Sandler, who starred alongside Barker in the film Happy Gilmore, paid tribute to him in social media: “Such a sweet funny guy to hang out with. Loved talking to him. Loved laughing with him. Loved him kicking the crap out of me. He will be missed by everyone I know! Heartbreaking day. Love to Bob always and his family! Thanks for all you gave us!”

Drew Carey, who succeeded Barker as host of Price Is Right, also honored the legendary host. He wrote that it was a “very sad day for the Price Is Right family and animal lovers all over the world. 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. #RIPBobBarker We love you.”

Bob Barker was born on December 12th, 1923 in Darrington, Washington. His father, Byron Barker, died when Bob was young, and his mother, Matilda Valandra, moved the family to Mission, South Dakota. One-eighth Sioux and a registered member of the Sioux tribe, Barker spent much of his childhood on the state’s Rosebud Indian Reservation. When Matilda remarried, the family moved to Springfield, Missouri, where Barker graduated high school. It was there that Barker met his wife, Dorothy Jo Gideon. The pair were married from 1945 until her death in 1981.

Barker attended Drury College on a basketball scholarship before joining the United States Naval Reserve as a fighter pilot during World War II. The war ended before he was given an assignment for active duty, and in 1947 he graduated from Drury with a degree in economics.

Barker worked in radio in Lake Worth Beach, Florida before moving to California in 1950 to pursue a career in broadcasting. He ran his own radio show, The Bob Barker Show, out of Burbank until 1956. That year the entertainer jumped to television, when he began hosting the game show Truth or Consequences. He went on to host the program until it went off the air in 1974.

In 1972, Barker began hosting The Price is Right. The program, which tasks contestants with accurately identifying the price of various merchandise, landed on CBS when Barker replaced original host Dennis James. In 1975, it became the first hour-long game show, and in 1990, it surpassed Truth or Consequences as the longest-running daytime game show. Barker continued to host the show until his retirement in 2007. In 2009, he returned to The Price is Right as a guest host to promote his memoir, Priceless Memories. He returned to the show again in 2013 to celebrate his 90th birthday.

Though most famous for The Price is Right, Barker appeared on a number of other programs throughout his decades-long career. He hosted the Pillsbury Bake-Off from 1969 to 1985, and emceed the New Year’s Day Tournament of Roses Parade from 1969 to 1988. In 1996, he appeared as himself in Sandler’s film Happy Gilmore. In 2006, Barker won the Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement.

A longtime vegetarian, Barker was a passionate animal rights advocate. In 1982, he began ending The Price is Right by reminding audiences to spay and neuter their pets, and in 1995, he founded the DJ&T Foundation, which provided free and inexpensive sterilization services. He named the foundation after his wife, Dorothy Jo, and her mother, Tilly. After hosting the Miss USA Pageant for more than 20 years, he stepped down from the role in 1988 after the pageant’s producers refused to remove fur coats from their prize packages. In 2013, Barker donated $1 million to the pursuit of moving three African elephants from the Toronto Zoo to PAWS, a California animal sanctuary.

In 1994, the model Dian Parkinson sued Barker for sexual harassment, claiming that he had threatened to fire her from The Price is Right if she did not have sex with him. In 1995, model Holly Hallstrom left the show and filed suit against Barker, claiming she was fired from the show because she refused to supply Barker with false information regarding Parkinson’s lawsuit. In 2007, CBS employee Deborah Curling filed a lawsuit against Barker, CBS, and The Price is Right producers, alleging a hostile work environment. Curling, who is Black, described a discriminatory environment and claimed she was forced to quit her job after testifying against Barker in a wrongful termination suit filed by a previous show producer.

Barker suffered a number of health issues throughout his life. In 1999, he underwent carotid endarterectomy to remove a blocked carotid artery. In 2002, he suffered a stroke, and later underwent prostate surgery. After years of frequent tanning, the entertainer encountered several mild bouts of skin cancer, which he was able to remove without serious incident. He fell and injured his head and knee in 2015, and fell again in 2017, though his injuries were less serious after the second incident.