Bob Barker, Longtime ‘The Price Is Right’ Host, Dead at 99

The Price is Right - Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images
The Price is Right - Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images

Bob Barker, a staple of daytime television for more than five decades having hosted The Price Is Right and Truth or Consequences, has died, his publicist confirmed. He was 99.

“It is with profound sadness that we announce that the World’s Greatest MC who ever lived, Bob Barker has left us,” Barker’s publicist Roger Neal said in a statement via Variety.

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With an amiable personality and a winning smile, Barker began hosting an adaptation of the popular radio game show Truth or Consequences at NBC in 1956 (it ran through 1975). He began serving double duty when he also began hosting The Price Is Right in 1972 at CBS, where he remained for 35 years before stepping away in 2007.

Born Dec. 12, 1923, in Darrington, Washington, Barker served in the Navy in World War II, though he never participated in combat, and later worked in radio. He moved to California to pursue broadcasting and hosted the radio program The Bob Barker Show in 1950 before his big TV hosting break with Truth or Consequences.

His run with The Price Is Right had two iterations where he served as host: from its debut in 1956 where it also aired on NBC and ABC through it being canceled in 1965, and later a new version, which serves as the blueprint of how the show runs today.

“We lost a beloved member of the CBS family today with the passing of Bob Barker. 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,’” CBS said in a statement. “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.”

The Price Is Right features a series of games that focus on players’ guessing the cost of various merchandise, from appliances to vehicles. Contestants were invited to “come on down” from the audience when they participated.

The show set a number of television history firsts. In 1975, it became the first one-hour game show on TV, and in 1990 it became the longest-running daytime game show in history. Barker beat The Tonight Show host Johnny Carson’s record for continuous performances on the same network TV program when he achieved 29 years, seven months and 22 days. Barker also served as the executive producer of the show beginning in 1988. An animal rights activist, he issued a prohibition on animal-based products along with foreign cars. He stepped away from the show in 2007.

In 1994, Baker faced a sexual harassment suit from show model Dian Parkinson, who worked on The Price Is Right for 18 years. She claimed she had been forced to have sex with Barker to keep her job. Barker claimed the sex was consensual; Parkinson eventually dropped the lawsuit. In 1996, fellow model Holly Hallstrom sued Barker alleging weight discrimination. That suit was settled in 2005, as Today noted.

Beyond his daytime TV stints, he served as the MC for the Miss U.S.A. and Miss Universe beauty pageants until 1987, leaving the latter when the producers refused to replace real furs for synthetic ones as finalists’ prizes. He also served as an MC for the Rose Parade. In 1996 he played himself in Adam Sandler’s Happy Gilmore.

He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1976, and was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in 2004 and into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2008. He won 18 Daytime Emmys for hosting The Price Is Right, where he presided over 6,586 episodes.

“Bob Barker was a Daytime television mainstay for generations. He helped to define the game show genre, cementing The Price is Right as a powerhouse format that has remained essentially unchanged for more than half a century,” The National Academy of Television Art and Sciences and CEO Adam Sharp said in a statement. “You don’t mess with perfection. His championship of the craft and for animal welfare were equal in their exuberance. His presence will be missed greatly by the Emmy community.”

This article was updated to include statements from CBS and NATAS’ CEO Adam Sharp.

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