Beloved television host Bob Barker, who entertained audiences for over five decades and became a prominent advocate for animal rights, has passed away at the age of 99. His publicist, Roger Neal, confirmed the news, stating that Barker died of natural causes at his home in the Hollywood Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.
Born on December 12, 1923, in Darrington, Washington, Barker began his career in radio before transitioning to television. He gained fame as the host of the long-running game show "Truth or Consequences," which aired from 1956 to 1974. Barker's wit and down-to-earth demeanor charmed viewers, earning him recognition in the Guinness World Records as television's "most durable performer."
In 1972, Barker took on his most iconic role as the host of "The Price Is Right." He would go on to host the show for an impressive 35 years, making it the longest-running game show in American television history. Audiences were captivated by Barker's affable personality, and he became a familiar presence in millions of homes across the country.
"The Price Is Right" became a pop culture phenomenon, with contestants vying to guess the prices of various consumer products and playing games for prizes. Barker's catchphrase, "Come on down!", became a staple of the show, as excited contestants made their way from the audience to the stage. Barker's quick wit and humorous banter with contestants endeared him to viewers, and he became known for his good-natured humor.
Throughout his career, Barker received numerous accolades for his work on "The Price Is Right." He won 19 Daytime Emmy Awards, including four as the show's executive producer. In 2004, he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame, cementing his status as a television legend.
But Barker's impact extended beyond the entertainment industry. He was a passionate advocate for animal rights, dedicated to promoting the welfare of animals and combating cruelty. Barker donated millions of dollars to pro-animal causes, including a significant contribution of $5 million to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. The funds were used to operate a ship named the Bob Barker, which worked to stop Japanese whaling ships from killing whales in Antarctic waters.
Barker also spoke out against the mistreatment of animals in zoos, circuses, and rodeos. He even stopped eating meat in 1979 and refused to use hair dye that was tested on animals, leading to his distinctive silver hair. In 1987, he made a bold stand by resigning from his role as host of the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants when organizers refused to stop using fur coats as prizes.
His dedication to animal rights extended beyond his television career. Barker founded the DJ&T Foundation in honor of his late wife, Dorothy, to support free or low-cost clinics and voucher programs for spaying and neutering pets. The foundation's efforts aimed to control animal overpopulation and promote responsible pet ownership.
In addition to his television work and advocacy, Barker made a memorable appearance in the hit 1996 film "Happy Gilmore," where he played himself and engaged in a comedic brawl with actor Adam Sandler's character. The scene showcased Barker's sense of humor and demonstrated his versatility as an entertainer.
Barker's impact on television and his unwavering commitment to animal rights will be remembered by fans and activists alike. He leaves behind a legacy of entertainment and compassion, and his contributions to the industry and the welfare of animals will forever be celebrated.
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