LOS ANGELES, C.A.(Argus Leader)- In his 35 years as emcee of “The Price is Right,” Bob Barker changed in only one appreciable way: He stopped dyeing his hair in the early 1990s, two decades into the game show’s long and storied run.
Nearly everything else about Barker – his tanned and lithe looks, his avuncular ease with contestants, his witty rapport with the audience – remained the same. Even the CBS set where “Price” had been taped five times a week beginning in 1972 didn’t change much: the same mustard-avocado-and-tangerine color scheme, the same Smithsonian-worthy Showcase Showdown wheel.
Barker has died at the age of 99, according to his publicist Roger Neal.
“It is with profound sadness that we announce that the World’s Greatest MC who ever lived, Bob Barker, has left us,” Neal said Saturday in a statement provided to USA TODAY. Barker died of natural causes at his longtime Hollywood Hills home, Neal said.
In a town where longevity is rare, Barker broke records for stamina. As “Price,” which became synonymous with Barker, emerged as TV’s longest-running game show, Barker eclipsed Johnny Carson as the medium’s most resilient host. In an industry where trendiness trumps reliability, Barker was unusual in that he did one thing and he did it very well, for decades.
Barker won 18 Daytime Emmys, as well as a Daytime Emmy Award for lifetime achievement in 1999. In early 2004, he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. Guinness World Records twice named him TV’s Most Durable Performer.
Barker retired from “The Price Is Right” in June 2007. During his 35 years as host, he missed only one taping of four episodes. And he made several guest appearances with the new host, Drew Carey, who remembered him on X (formerly Twitter) with a shared photo of one of those guest spots and a broken-heart emoji.
Born Dec. 12, 1923, Barker grew up on South Dakota’s Rosebud Indian Reservation, where his widowed mother was a teacher. After a stint in the Navy as a World War II fighter pilot, Barker attended Drury College in Springfield, Missouri, while working for a local radio station. Radio and TV jobs in Palm Beach, Florida, and Southern California led to Barker’s big break in 1956, when he was plucked to host the TV game show “Truth or Consequences.” On the first day of taping, the theater marquee read “Free Doughnuts and Bob Barker.” The gig lasted 18 seasons, first on NBC and then in syndication, and Barker assumed top billing in the world of emceeing.