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Friday, December 8, 2023

Bob Barker, Longtime Host of ‘The Worth Is Proper,’ Dies at 99


Bob Barker, the constantly good-natured host of “The Worth Is Proper,” the longest-running recreation present in American tv historical past, and one of many nation’s best-known advocates for animal rights, died on Saturday at his house within the Hollywood Hills part of Los Angeles. He was 99.

His loss of life was introduced by a spokesman, Roger Neal.

Mr. Barker was a fixture of daytime tv for half a century — first because the host of “Fact or Penalties,” from 1956 to 1974, and, most famously, beginning in 1972, on “The Worth Is Proper.”

He started his 35-year stint as host of “The New Worth Is Proper,” because it was then identified, when it made its debut on CBS as a revised and jazzed-up model of the unique “The Worth Is Proper,” which had been on the air from 1956 to 1965. (The “New” was quickly dropped from the title.) He was additionally host of a weekly syndicated nighttime model from 1977 till it was canceled in 1980.

Nearly a decade earlier than he retired in 2007, Mr. Barker estimated that in his tenure greater than 40,000 contestants had heeded the announcer’s acquainted name to “come on down!” and picked up some $200 million in small and huge prizes, from seashore blankets to Buicks, by guessing the costs of assorted objects.

Mr. Barker gained 14 Daytime Emmy Awards as host of “The Worth Is Proper” and 4 extra as govt producer (in addition to a lifetime achievement Emmy in 1999). He as soon as mentioned that the present had lasted so long as it did as a result of “all our video games are based mostly on costs, and everybody can determine with that.” He added, nonetheless, that he personally by no means knew the worth of something, and that if he have been ever a contestant on such a present he could be “a complete failure.”

Mr. Barker was extensively identified for his longstanding dedication to the reason for animal rights. He stop as grasp of ceremonies for each the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants in 1988 as a result of they gave fur coats as prizes. He additionally protested the mistreatment of animals by their trainers on the units of assorted films and tv reveals. He ended each installment of “The Worth Is Proper” by saying: “Assist management the pet inhabitants. Have your pet spayed or neutered.”

Robert William Barker was born on Dec. 12, 1923, in Darrington, Wash. His father, Byron, was an influence line foreman who in 1929 died from problems of accidents he had obtained in a fall from a pole a number of years earlier. Shortly thereafter, his mom, Matilda (Tarleton) Barker, took a job instructing in Mission, S.D, on the Rosebud Indian Reservation.

“Cowboys tied up their horses at hitching rails,” Mr. Barker recalled of these years. “It was like I used to be rising up within the Outdated West.”

When Mr. Barker was 13, his mom married Louis Valandra, a tire salesman, they usually moved to Springfield, Mo. He obtained a basketball scholarship to Drury School in Springfield however dropped out to enlist as a Naval Aviation cadet when World Conflict II broke out.

He was ready for a fight project when the warfare ended, and he was discharged as a lieutenant junior grade. He returned to Drury, majored in economics and graduated summa cum laude in 1947.

Even earlier than he earned his diploma, Mr. Barker had begun his first radio job, at KTTS in Springfield, the place he was a disc jockey, a information author, a sportscaster and a producer. After faculty he labored at WWPG in Palm Seaside, Fla., and KWIK in Burbank, Calif.

In 1945, he married Dorothy Jo Gideon, his highschool sweetheart, who as soon as defined the key of their marriage this fashion: “I like Bob Barker. And Bob Barker loves Bob Barker.” She died in 1981, and Mr. Barker by no means remarried.

Mr. Barker is survived by his half brother, Kent Valandra. Mr. Barker’s longtime buddy Nancy Burnet, a fellow animal rights activist who had been overseeing his care — and about whom he wrote in his autobiography, “Our relationship has gone on for 25 years, on and off. Totally on.” — is an executor of his property.

Mr. Barker’s huge break got here in 1956 when the producer Ralph Edwards heard him on KNX, a Los Angeles radio station, and requested him to audition for “Fact or Penalties,” a long-running recreation present (it had begun on radio in 1940) on which contestants have been required to carry out wild stunts. He received the job, and he and Mr. Edwards turned lifelong pals.

Mr. Barker was nonetheless the host of “Fact or Penalties” when he was supplied “The Worth Is Proper” in 1972, and for 2 years these jobs overlapped. For a very long time after that he was among the many busiest folks on tv, with duties that additionally included internet hosting the Rose Bowl parade and the Pillsbury Bake-Off for a lot of the Nineteen Seventies and ’80s.

He sometimes confirmed up in films as effectively, nearly all the time as a comically exaggerated model of himself. His most memorable look was within the 1996 comedy “Completely happy Gilmore,” wherein he gleefully engaged in a brawl with the title character, a boorish hockey participant turned golfer performed by Adam Sandler.

To many viewers “The Worth Is Proper” was, as one critic put it, amongst tv’s final “islands of wholesomeness.” That picture was challenged in 1994 when Dian Parkinson, who for nearly 20 years had been a mannequin on the present — one of many so-called Barker’s Beauties, whose fundamental operate was to show the prizes — sued Mr. Barker for sexual harassment.

Ms. Parkinson, who had left the present the 12 months earlier than, mentioned she had intercourse with Mr. Barker as a result of she thought she would lose her job if she didn’t. In response, Mr. Barker acknowledged that he and Ms. Parkinson had had a relationship for quite a few years, starting in 1989, however insisted that it had been consensual.

“She instructed me I had all the time been so strait-laced that it was time I had some hanky-panky in my life,” he mentioned, “and she or he volunteered the hanky-panky.” Ms. Parkinson withdrew the go well with in 1995 as a result of, she mentioned, she lacked each the emotional endurance and the cash to pursue it.

Mr. Barker introduced his retirement in October 2006. “I might be 83 years outdated on Dec. 12,” he mentioned on the time, “and I’ve determined to retire whereas I’m nonetheless younger.”

His last episode as host of “The Worth Is Proper” was taped on June 6, 2007, and shortly proven twice on June 15: first in its common daytime slot and once more in prime time.

After an in depth search, the comic Drew Carey was chosen as Mr. Barker’s successor in July 2007. In an interview with The Instances, Mr. Carey referred to as Mr. Barker a “legend” and praised him for the “empathy” he confirmed contestants.

“He desires them to win. You may hug him,” Mr. Carey mentioned. “He went from being your dad and your uncle to your grandfather.”

Mr. Barker returned to the present as a visitor in 2009 to advertise his autobiography, “Priceless Reminiscences,” and once more in 2013, to have fun his ninetieth birthday, and 2015, because the unannounced visitor host, an April Idiot’s Day gag. He promised to return again when he turned 100.

“Folks ask me, ‘What do you miss most about “Worth is Proper?”’ And I say, ‘The cash,’” Mr. Barker mentioned in a 2013 interview with Parade journal. “However that’s not altogether true. I miss the folks, too.”

Richard Severo, a Instances reporter from 1968 to 2006, died in June. Peter Keepnews and Chris Cameron contributed reporting.


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