Longtime ‘The Price is Right’ host Bob Barker dies at 99

Bob Barker, the longtime host of the gameshow “The Price is Right,” has died at the age of 99.

Barker’s publicist Roger Neal confirmed his death early Saturday morning, saying that he died of natural causes in his Hollywood Hills home.

“It is with profound sadness that we announce that the World’s Greatest MC who ever lived, Bob Barker, has left us,” Neal’s statement read.

Longtime friend of Barker and co-executor of the staunch animal activist’s estate Nancy Burnet also released a statement regarding his passing:

I am so proud of the trailblazing work Barker and I did together to expose the cruelty to animals in the entertainment industry and including working to improve the plight of abused and exploited animals in the United States and internationally. We were great friends over these 40 years, and he will be missed.

The obituary for Barker can be read in part below:

Robert William Barker was born on December 12, 1923, in Darrington, Washington and grew up on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in Mission, South Dakota. The U.S. Indian Census Rolls listed Barker as a member of the Sioux Indian Tribe. His mother Matilda Valandra (“Tillie”) was a schoolteacher, and his father Byron Barker was a Forman that installed the Electrical high line through the state of Washington. While attending high school in Missouri, Barker would meet his future wife Dorothy Jo, and they would start dating when Barker was 15 yrs. old.  Barker was educated at Drury University on a basketball scholarship, where he was a member of the Sigma Nu Fraternity.

In 1943 Barker enlisted in the United States Navy Reserve, during WW2. He worked part time in radio while attending college for radio station KTTS radio in Springfield Missouri. Barker and his wife would move to Florida where he became the editor and announcer for radio station WWPG.

In 1950, Barker and his wife moved to California so Barker could pursue a career in radio and television, together they embarked working on Barker’s career. He was given his own radio show “The Bob Barker Show,” that ran for six years out of Burbank. Barker would then go on to host an audience participation radio show on KNX Radio in Los Angeles.

At the same time, Ralph Edwards, who was looking for a TV host for his long running radio game show Truth or Consequences, heard Barker on the radio and loved his voice and style and offered him the job to host the television version of TOC.

Barker said “The day I met Ralph Edwards changed my life forever.”

Edwards hired Barker to host the popular nighttime Television show Truth or Consequences.   Barker hosted the show from 1956 to 1975. The two would be lifelong friends, in fact Barker would show up at the front door of Ralph Edwards each year on the anniversary of Edwards giving Barker his show with a gift to thank him, this went on every year until Edwards passed away in 2005.

Barker would also host the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants on CBS from 1967 to 1987 making history as the longest running pageant host in pageant history. In 1987 Barker successfully convinced pageant officials to not use furs on the 1987 telecast of the MISS USA Pageant from Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Known as the “Fur Flap,” America tuned in to see if Barker would host that telecast as it made national headlines for the stand barker took with the pageant and made ratings history.

PETA president Ingrid Newkirk also released a statement regarding Barker’s passing that read in part:

Bob’s influence on the entertainment industry is indisputable, but what mattered to him most was using his voice and prominent position to protect animals. Of course, everyone is familiar with his “spay and neuter your pets” sign-off on The Price Is Right—a show where he refused to allow fur prizes—but he was also one of the first stars to go vegetarian, more than 30 years ago. He joined PETA in urging families to stay away from SeaWorld, demanded the closure of cruel bear pits masquerading as tourist attractions, implored Hollywood to take action to protect animals used in film and TV, and, as a Navy veteran, called for the end of military medical drills on live animals.

In addition, CBS released a statement on Barker’s death:

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.” 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.

Barker leaves behind his half-brother Kent Valendra, half-nephews Robert and Chip Valendra and half-neice Vickie Valendra Kelly, as well as millions of fans across the country.