Bob Barker Biography, Career, Scandal, Wife, Death

Bob Barker was a television game show host best known for his decades-long tenure on The Price Is Right. He began his career in entertainment in 1950 with his own radio show, The Bob Barker Show, before rising to national prominence as the host of Truth or Consequences, a TV game show he oversaw for 18 years.

Barker joined the already renowned game show The Price Is Right in 1972 and helped it to new heights of success. By the time he stepped down as host in 2007, The Price Is Right had become both the first hour-long game show and the longest-running daytime game program in history. Barker, who won 18 Daytime Emmy Awards, died in August 2023 at the age of 99.

Early Life and Start in Broadcasting

Robert William Barker was born in Darrington, Washington, on December 12, 1923. Barker’s father died while he was very young, and he lived on the Rosebud Indian Reservation near Mission, South Dakota, with his mother, Matilda, a teacher, until he was in the eighth grade. Matilda remarried, and the family relocated to Springfield, Missouri.

Barker graduated from high school in the early 1940s and went on to play basketball at Drury College in Springfield. He dropped out of school in 1943 to train as a fighter pilot in the US Naval Reserve, but World War II ended before he was sent to active duty. Barker returned to Drury and earned a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1947.

Barker’s position at a Florida radio station led to his relocation to California in 1950 to pursue a career in broadcasting. He was granted his own radio show, The Bob Barker Show, which he broadcast from Burbank for the following six years.

‘Truth or Consequences’

He was engaged in 1956 to host the daytime television adaptation of the long-running radio quiz show Truth or Consequences. Ralph Edwards, the producer, had heard his voice on the radio and summoned him to an audition before offering him the job one December day. “That was, that is and that will always be the most important call of my professional life,” Barker told The Los Angeles Times in 2007. “All the wonderful things that have happened to me since started with that phone call from Ralph.”

If a contestant did not answer a question within one second, Truth or Consequences compelled them to undertake crazy feats. The show was syndicated in 1966, and Barker hosted it until 1974, when it was cancelled. (An revised version, The New Truth or Consequences, aired with a new host from 1977 through 1989.)

’The Price Is Right’

Before his tenure on Truth or Consequences ended, Barker took over as host of another game show, The Price Is Right, which had been on NBC and ABC since 1950 before finding a home on CBS at the time of Barker’s debut in 1972. The show featured around 60 distinct games in which competitors had to guess the price of various things ranging from silverware to luxury vehicles.

The show was a hit, due in no small part to the catchphrase, “Come on down!” bellowed by the show’s original announcer, the late Johnny Olson, and to the incredible number of prizes awarded by the jovial, smooth-talking Barker (estimated at a total value of around $200 million from 1972 to 1999). A notable animal rights activist, Barker ended every show reminding the public of animal welfare, stating: “Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.”

The Price Is Right became the first hour-long game show on television in November 1975. The show then eclipsed Truth or Consequences as the longest-running daytime game show in history in 1990. “It never entered my mind that I would do Price Is Right longer than Truth or Consequences,” Barker told the Los Angeles Times that year. “It never entered my mind I would do anything longer. It never entered my mind I would even live longer.”

During his time on the show, Barker won 18 Daytime Emmy Awards, including 14 for Outstanding Game Show Host.

He announced his departure from hosting The Price Is Right in 2006, following nearly 35 years on the show. His final program aired in June 2007, and he chose Drew Carey as his replacement.

Barker returned for visits over the years, notably in 2013, when he turned 90. As an April Fool’s hoax, Barker startled The Price Is Right viewers on April 1, 2015. “I know the world is full of fools, but I am a carefully selected fool,” Barker joked about returning to the game show as host for a limited time.

Harassment Scandal

Dian Parkinson, a former Price Is Right model from 1975 to 1993, sued Barker for s**ual harassment in 1994, claiming that he threatened to dismiss her if she didn’t have s*x with him. Barker disputed the charges, claiming that he had an intimate relationship with Parkinson that was mutual.

The judge in the case punished Parkinson and her attorneys for neglecting to furnish Barker’s lawyers with papers supporting her damages claims. Parkinson dropped her claim because she couldn’t pay the legal bills and the court process was causing her emotional and physical anguish. Despite the fact that the suit was eventually withdrawn, it produced a public controversy that forever tarnished Barker’s character.

Other Hosting Gigs and ‘Happy Gilmore’

Barker’s reign on The Price Is Right propelled him to the center of a slew of other notable shows, including the Pillsbury Bake-Off, which he hosted from 1969 to 1985, and the annual New Year’s Day Tournament of Roses Parade, which he hosted from 1969 to 1988. From 1966 until 1988, Barker hosted the Miss Universe and Miss America pageants every year. In 1980, he hosted That’s My Line, a short-lived variety show created by the founders of What’s My Line, TV’s longest-running primetime game show.

Barker made his film debut in 1996 as himself in Happy Gilmore, a comedy starring Adam Sandler. In a classic moment, he and Sandler engage into a confrontation during a celebrity golf tournament; the scene earned an MTV Movie Award for “Best Fight Sequence” that year. The scene led to a ratings boost for The Price is Right among young viewers, and Barker said after the movie was released, audience members would regularly ask him, “Can you really beat up Adam Sandler?”

In 1999, the legendary emcee received the Daytime Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement in recognition of his hosting accomplishments. He was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame five years later.

Animal Rights Activism

In the late 1980s, Barker became embroiled in a disagreement with Miss USA organizers over an issue close to his heart: animal rights. Barker declined to host the pageants because organizers refused to remove fur jackets from the winners’ prize bundles, as he had requested.

His commitment to animal welfare culminated in the establishment of the DJ&T Foundation in Beverly Hills in 1995, a nonprofit that strives to alleviate domestic animal overpopulation by providing free or low-cost sterilization for cats and dogs. The DJ&T Foundation was named after Barker’s wife, Dorothy Jo Gideon, and her mother, Tilly.

Barker spent nearly $1 million in October 2013 to transport three African elephants from the Toronto Zoo to PAWS, a California-based wildlife sanctuary. After activists like Barker expressed their worries about huge animals being kept in zoos, the Toronto City Council approved their removal in 2011. PAWS’ ARK 2000 compound now houses a total of 9 elephants, including Toka, Iringa, and Thika.

Barker had been a vegetarian for over 40 years.


Barker married Dorothy Jo Gideon, whom he met in high school, in 1945. Barker frequently related the account of their first meeting, which took place on the porch of a hotel where he worked. She drew a 10 of spades from a pack of cards and told Barker, “Here, this will be your luck.” Barker had the card for over six decades.

The couple had no children but worked together. Gideon produced her husband’s game programs until her death from cancer in 1981. Barker never married again.


Barker died of Alzheimer’s disease in his Los Angeles home on August 26, 2023, at the age of 99. The well-known former TV host had not publicly acknowledged his diagnosis. “Up until two months before Bob Barker’s passing, he routinely participated in conversation and beside exercises,” said friend Nancy Burnet in a statement. Hypertension, hypothyroidism, and hyperlipidemia were also cited as contributory factors on his death certificate.

Barker had ordered that no funeral or memorial service be held before his death. He will be interred with his late wife, Dorothy Jo Gideon, at Los Angeles’ Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetery.

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