Bob Barker, the longtime host of the game show The Price Is Right, has passed away. In a statement to NBC News Saturday (August 26), his publicist Roger Neal said, “It is with profound sadness that we announce that the World’s Greatest MC who ever lived, Bob Barker, has left us.” Barker was 99 years old. The legendary host spent more than half a century on television. He took over as host of the popular Truth or Consequences in 1956. He hosted that show for 18 years. In 1972, he began hosting The Price Is Right until 2007. After that, Drew Carey took over as host.
Robert Thompson, the director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, said one reason Barker became an iconic game show host was the sheer length of his career. “From the black and white era of television right up to the new century, Bob Barker had a real presence on two really big shows,” Thompson said. “Secondly, you’ve got some game shows where the host just stands behind a podium, but Barker really interacted with regular people” who were selected as contestants. “And he was particularly good at it.”
Robert William Barker was born in Darrington, Washington, on December 12, 1923. At the age of 6, he moved to a Sioux Indian reservation in Mission, South Dakota, with his mother after his father died in a workplace accident. His mother, Matilda, a schoolteacher, remarried and moved again to Missouri. Barker served in the Navy for two years at the end of World War II, then returned to Missouri to attend Drury College, now Drury University, and graduated with a degree in economics. He landed a job at a radio station in Florida, and gained popularity with his smooth delivery. In 1950, he moved to California to start his own radio program, The Bob Barker Show, in Burbank.