After decades of success, television show host and philanthropist Bob Barker remains one of America’s most iconic celebrities. In addition to his memorable television presence, he is an avid animal rights activist.
Born in 1923, Barker spent his childhood in Mission, South Dakota. After his father passed away, he moved with his mother to Missouri where he attended Drury College. When World War II broke out, Barker joined the Navy and became a fighter pilot.
While on leave he reunited with and married his high school sweetheart, Dorothy Jo Gideon. Barker returned to Drury College to resume his education after the war ended. During his university years, he got his first radio job at KTTS-FM Radio in Springfield.
Initially, Barker intended to forge a career in radio. In Palm Beach, Florida, he hosted a radio show before moving to California with his wife. Together, they co-wrote his first radio show at a Burbank radio station in 1950.
Game show creator Ralph Edwards heard Barker’s radio show and admired his character. Soon, Barker joined Edwards’ Truth or Consequences, which he hosted for 19 years on ABC. His television charisma garnered acclaim among audiences, providing a solid start to his television career.
Barker’s biggest break came in 1972. He began hosting The Price Is Right on CBS. Participants had to guess the price of different products to win prizes. Attracting viewership and entertaining countless Americans, the hit show became the first 60-minute game show in television history. Barker hosted the show for over 30 years.
His fame and personality landed him other major television gigs, including hosting several pageants like Miss USA and Miss Universe. He also hosted the Tournament of Roses Parade and the Pillsbury Bake Off.
CBS named stage 33 the Bob Barker Studio in celebration of the 5,000th episode of The Price Is Right in 1998. His television work earned him more than 10 Daytime Emmy awards. In 1999, he received the Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award for Daytime Television.
While his dedication to his work never wavered, Barker always found the time to advocate for animal rights. He ended every episode of The Price Is Right by highlighting pet overpopulation and recommending pet neutering or spaying to viewers. Aiming to control the pet population, he founded the DJ&T Foundation in 1994 to support affordable pet neutering clinics and programs.
His animal rescue efforts also include a $5 million donation to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which is committed to anti-whaling advocacy. In 2013, he funded the transport of three elephants from a Canadian zoo to California’s San Andreas sanctuary. Further, Barker has donated funds to promote animal law education at American universities.
Barker retired in 2007. Drew Carey replaced him as the host of The Price Is Right, which still airs on CBS, making it the longest running television game show in history. Barker was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2004. Five years later Barker wrote his autobiography, Priceless Memories, which was co-written with Digby Diehl.