LOS ANGELES, CA. (THECOUNT) — Bob Barker, the longtime host of television game show, “The Price Is Right,” has passed away. He was 99.
Barker was also a longtime animal rights activist who ended each episode of “The Price Is Right” with the plea: “Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.”
A cause of death was not provided, however old age is suspected.
Barker founded a charity in 1995 that provided just such services for pet owners — the DJ&T Foundation, named after his wife and her mother. His passion for the cause can be traced to the first prize he gave away as host of “The Price Is Right” — a fur coat, according to NBC.
“I went to Mark Goodson and told him I didn’t want to be on the stage with these fur coats,” Barker told “CBS This Morning” in 2013, referring to the show’s producer. “So he took fur coats off our show.”
Barker’s longtime friend Nancy Burnet remembered him for his work in exposing animal cruelty.
“I am so proud of the trailblazing work Barker, and I did together to expose the cruelty to animals in the entertainment industry and including working to improve the plight of abused and exploited animals in the United States and internationally,” Burnet said in a statement Saturday.
She added that the two had been friends for 40 years. “He will be missed.”
In 2013, Barker donated $1 million to move three captive elephants from the Toronto Zoo to a sanctuary in California.
The same year, Barker returned in a surprise visit to “Price Is Right” and his successor as host, Drew Carey.
To commemorate the icon, flowers will be placed on his Hollywood Walk of Fame star at 2 p.m.
When producers hired Barker to host “The Price Is Right” in 1972, they hit the jackpot. The game show had faded significantly from its glory days in the late ‘50s and had been punted by two networks before it landed at CBS.
But in Barker, the show found its voice, and it has continued to air a decade and a half after he retired.
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. Barker spent more than half a century on TV, taking over as host of the popular “Truth or Consequences” in 1956 and retiring from “The Price Is Right” in 2007.
“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.”
Barker’s made-for-television image took a huge hit 1994, when a former “Price Is Right” model accused him in a lawsuit of threatening to fire her if she didn’t have sex with him. Although the model, Dian Parkinson — a 19-year veteran of the show who had been fired the previous year — ultimately dropped the suit, Barker was forced to admit publicly that the two had had a less-than-professional relationship off screen.
Barker’s wife, his high school sweetheart, Dorothy Jo Gideon, had died years before, in 1981. They married in 1945.
The scandal didn’t prevent Barker from being given an Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement.