Bob Barker, Legendary Game Show Host, Dead At 99

Bob Barker, renowned host of "The Price is Right" and avid animal activist, died at age 99 on August 26, TMZ reported. "It is with profound sadness that we announce that the World's Greatest MC who ever lived, Bob Barker has left us," publicist Roger Neal told NBC News in a statement. He was preceded in his death by wife Dorothy Jo Barker in 1981 (via iHeart Radio) and the couple had no children. 

Known best for his work on "The Price is Right," which he hosted for 35 years, Barker trained as a fighter pilot during WWII, married his high school sweetheart, was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame, and dedicated his life after "The Price is Right" to animal activism (via CNN).

While Barker began his game show career on "Truth or Consequences," the host became a legend during his decades-long run on CBS' "The Price Is Right." Barker became a sick-day staple, as children often tuned in to the iconic game show when home from school, leaving an indelible mark that spanned generations. In light of Barker's death, fans are looking back at his life over the years.

Bob Barker eloped with his high school sweetheart

Born December 12, 1923 in the small town of Darrington near Seattle, Washington, Barker's father died when he was young, and he spent his childhood until 8th grade on the Rosebud Native American reservation with his mother (via Biography). When his mother remarried in 1931, they moved to Springfield, Missouri, and he went to Springfield Senior High and then stayed there to go to Drury College, now Drury University, graduating in 1947 (via Springfield News-Leader).

While in high school, he met his wife Dorothy Jo Gideon, and their first date was to see Ella Fitzgerald (via Springfield News-Leader). The two eloped in 1945 when Barker was on leave from the U.S. Navy (via Closer Weekly). Barker trained at eight different bases as a pilot, but he never saw combat, and he once said "I was a naval aviator, a fighter pilot. I completed all facets of my training, including my qualifying landings on a carrier. I was all ready to go, and when the enemy heard that I was headed for the Pacific, they surrendered. That was the end of World War II (via DNAS Museum News).

Dorothy was undoubtedly the love of Barker's life, and after she died of lung cancer in 1981 at the age of 57, a source told Radar Online that he "never got over" the loss (via Closer Weekly). Adding, "They were married 36 years and she was the love of his life. He never remarried. He and Dorothy Jo were together since age 15 and he told me, 'I just felt there should only ever be one Mrs. Bob Barker.'"

Barker loved to make people laugh

In college, Barker worked at local radio station KTTS (via Walk of Fame). After a stint on the show "Bonanza," he was discovered in 1956 by Ralph Edwards who needed a host for his game show "Truth or Consequences" (via The Television Academy Foundation).

The first show was December 31, 1956, and "Truth or Consequences" was the first national show to tape on a regular schedule and one of the first to broadcast in color (via Today). Barker loved his work, saying in his memoir "Priceless Memories", "One of the great parts of my job as host was to bring out this humor in people and to enjoy it. That was one of the rewards of my work — seeing people having fun and laughing uproariously, not just at others, but at themselves."

Barker began his most memorable job as host of "The Price is Right" in 1972, and was the face of the popular game show for 35 years, before retiring in 2007 (via The Hollywood Reporter). While much of the show's appeal was surely based on Barker's enigmatic personality, he also acknowledged that the contestants and viewers impacted the show's popularity. Telling the LA Times in 1990, "we have accomplished what the producer of every game show wants–viewer involvement."

For his work on the show, Barker won a dozen Daytime Emmys along with a 1999 Lifetime Achievement Award (via Variety). After he was inducted into the esteemed Television Academy Hall of Fame in 2004, Barker was quoted as saying, "This really culminates my professional life. It's about a nice a thing that could possibly happen to anyone in television." (via Emmys).

Barker dedicated his life to animal activism after The Price is Right

Barker always ended "The Price Is Right" by saying: "Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered." This was just one of the ways that he worked as an animal activist. Along with his game show hosting duties, Barker also served as the master of ceremonies for the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants from 1966 to 1987, but true to his beliefs, he quit when the organization kept giving fur coats to the winners, per USA Today.

After retiring from "The Price is Right," Bob spent much of his time promoting animal rights causes. He donated millions of dollars to PETA and even appeared in several videos for the organization (via PETA). Barker also made significant donations to his college to help fund the creation of an animal studies program as well as provide scholarships for students (via Springfield News-Leader).

For generations, Bob Barker was a mainstay in many people's lives. A comforting voice, a familiar face, and a shining smile that left an imprint on daytime television and fans worldwide. An icon in broadcasting and a champion for creatures great and small, Bob Barker was the epitome of a life well lived, and he will be sorely missed.