In 1972, a lot occurred. The No. 1 song at the time was “American Pie” by Don McLean, Richard Nixon was in office and his administration was attempting to hide its involvement in the Watergate Scandal.
NASA’s Space Shuttle program had also just been launched, and Bob Barker, the host of the Price is Right, was giving away brand-new cars, which at the time had a value of under $4000.
Bob Barker is a household figure and entertainment icon who is synonymous with The Price is Right. He hosted the well-known game show for 35 years.And Barker is commemorating a century of life this year.
Barker, a Sioux Tribe member who grew up on an Indian reservation in South Dakota, met Dorothy Jo Gideon at an Ella Fitzgerald event. In 1945, while on leave from the United States Navy Reserve, where he trained as a fighter pilot during World War II, he married Gideon, his high school sweetheart. He never participated in active military service, but he did go back to school and earn a degree in economics.
When game show producer Ralph Edwards was seeking for a new host for Truth or Consequences, the first game show to air on television, Barker, who is now 99, was hosting a radio show in Los Angeles. Barker’s reputation was growing as he hosted the enormously successful show from 1956 to 1975, and in 1967 he began hosting Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants.
Then it took place. He made an appearance on the set of The Price is Right in 1972, catapulting both him and the program into superstardom.
In 1988, Barker took over as executive producer of The Price is Right, which is still the longest-running game show in history. Barker was honored with 14 Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Game Show Host and four Emmys for his work as executive producer.
Barker said of his late wife in an interview with the Television Academy Foundation in 2008: “She gave me the confidence to even try to do what I set out to do. She actively supported me while I worked, not simply encouraged me.
In 1981, Gideon, 57, died of lung cancer, leaving her husband of 36 years behind.
“I never had any inclination to remarry. She was my wife.” Barker said.
He did however find another partner, Nancy Burnet, who has been with Barker now 40 years. According to Nancy, one of the key factors contributing to Barker’s good health is his limited use of medication over the years.
In an interview with Fox News Digital just before his 99th birthday in December, Burnet, now 79, revealed something unexpected: “He’s going to be 99, and he takes one prescription medication, and that’s for his thyroid.” And everybody who visits him or works in health care will remark, “Well, we’d like a list of his medications.” Let me just show you the bottle, I’ll say. I’m done now. Therefore, he does not take any medication for high pressure, cholesterol, or any of the numerous other conditions that most people get as they age,” remarked Burnet, making fun of his one prescription:
“He’s in very good health for his age and his humor is still in good shape. He’s had a very charmed life.”
However, it wasn’t always like that. Barker underwent surgery to open a partially clogged artery and lower his risk of stroke in 1999 after seeing what he characterized as clumsiness in his hand. He had a stroke in 2002, and a few months later underwent prostate surgery. He enjoys the sun, but he’s also had a few minor skin cancer instances, multiple falls resulting in more hospital trips, and severe back issues.
Burnet explains her intervention, helping Barker, a long-time vegetarian, gain strength with supplements. “It was not to replace meals but to enhance everything. To take that in addition to his meals because he was not doing well. He was looking tired and kind of frail, not just not looking healthy. And, you know, if you’re going to be a vegetarian and vegan, you better know what you’re doing.”
He made a few guest appearances after leaving his post as host of The Price is Right, which is now hosted by comedian Drew Carey, notably in 2013 on his 90th birthday.
Burnet said of his time on the show, “He never grew tired of it. I’m not sure I could do the same show every day. But he never grew bored with it. So maybe that’s why it was so successful because he was always ready to do it and happy to do it.”
A sentiment Barker also expressed on Good Morning America in 2007.
“I am really not ready to say goodbye to it. So, I think it’s a good time to say goodbye because I want to leave them wanting more.”
He left with some wonderful memories, including watching Vanna White compete on Price is Right before she became famous for appearing on Wheel of Fortune and watching female contestants lose their shirts after dancing around in excitement.
The greatest aspect of the show, though, was that it offered Barker a platform to raise public consciousness about animal welfare.
Barker is also known as an advocate for animal rights and his show-ending catch phrase, “This is Bob Barker reminding you to help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.”
He credits his late wife, Gideon, as the inspiration behind his animal activism.
“She was ahead of her time,” Barker told Good Morning America. “She stopped wearing fur coats before anyone was stopping. She became a vegetarian before people were becoming vegetarian. And I gradually did the same thing with her.”
In fact, he has given millions of dollars to his DJ&T Foundation, which bears the names of Gideon and his mother, Matilda or “Tilly,” who also loves animals, and which has been successful in establishing animal-rights curricula at law schools like Harvard, Columbia, and Northwestern.
“If young people are introduced to the terrible exploitation and mistreatment of animals in society, it will help influence them in anything they do,” Barker told the Associated Press in 2015. “When your education and encouragement fail, you have to have legislation.”
Together with Barker, Burnet, whom he first met at an animal adoption event he sponsored in 1983, promotes animal protection while opposing animal entertainment.
What a fantastic century! Bob Barker has had a significant impact on the world for almost 100 years. We are extremely blessed to have devoted individuals like Barker, a role model who utilizes his fame to protect defenseless animals.