Bob Barker is best known as the host of The Price is Right, a role that he held for 35 years. He has retired from television work, but he is still very active in his work with animal rights charities and groups.
Before He Was Famous
Bob Barker was born Robert William Barker on December 12, 1923 in Darrington, Washington. He and his family lived on an Indian reservation in South Dakota for many years, but a couple of years after his father died in 1929, Barker and the rest of his family relocated to Missouri.
Barker became a fighter pilot in the Navy during World War II though he was never involved in active combat. He attended Drury University and attained a degree in Economics, and while he was in school he also started working as a radio host.
Radio and Television
After university Barker moved first to Florida and then to California. In California he got his own radio program, The Bob Barker Show. Producer Ralph Edwards heard Barker on the radio and felt that his style and voice would be suitable for television, and so Barker eventually became the host of Edwards' game show Truth or Consequences in 1956. He continued with the show through 1975.
Other shows hosted by Barker include End of the Rainbow, The Family Game, Simon Says (which never made it to air), and That's My Line. He's also helmed the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, as well as the Pillsbury Bake-Off among other things.
The Price is Right
The Price is Right originally ran from 1956 through 1965, and was hosted by Bill Cullen. In 1972 the show was revived and Barker was brought on to host. The rest of his television career was suddenly defined, even if he didn't realize it at the time. Barker became synonymous with Price, and in 1988 he became an executive producer. Pricing games were created by and named for him, and he won numerous awards for his work on the show.
In the fall of 2006 Barker announced that this would be his final season with The Price is Right, and would film his last show in June 2007. Not long after that episode aired, CBS announced that Drew Carey would take over as host of the long-running game show.
Trouble with Lawsuits
Life on The Price is Right wasn't always sunshine and brand new cars. Barker was plagued by a series of lawsuits filed against him by the show's models, who alleged sexual harassment, wrongful termination, malicious persecution, racial discrimination, and sex discrimination. Most of these lawsuits were settled out of court with the models being paid a settlement. All of the cases have been well-documented, though oddly enough the scandals never did much damage to the show nor to Barker's reputation.
Barker was married to his school-time girlfriend Dorothy Jo Gideon in 1945. The couple remained together through 1981 when Dorothy Jo passed away due to lung cancer. Barker never remarried and was able to keep his romantic life mostly under wraps except for his dalliances with the TPIR models, including a three-year relationship with Dian Parkinson.
After retirning, Barker focused mostly on animal rights, a cause he had been passionate about for decades. He has donated time and money to various causes including PETA and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Thanks to his hefty financial donations, the SSCS has a ship called the Bob Barker, and PETA's new office building in Los Angeles is called the Bob Barker Building.
Barker was onhand to receive the "Legends" award at the 2009 GSN Game Show Awards, and has made numerous appearances on television and radio shows. Also in 2009 he returned to The Price is Right to plug his new autobiography, Priceless Memories.