Bob Barker, the suave television game show host most famous for his 35-year stint as the face of “The Price is Right,” died Saturday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 99 years old.
“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 said in a statement Saturday.
CBS, the network that airs the famous gameshow, also lamented the loss of Barker.
“We lost a beloved member of the CBS family today with the passing of Bob Barker. During his 35 years as host of ‘The Price is Right,’ Bob made countless people’s dreams come true and everyone feel like a winner when they were called to ‘come on down’,” the company said in a statement. “Daytime television has lost one of its most iconic stars.”
Barker started his half-century television career hosting “Truth or Consequences” before leaving for “The Price is Right” in 1972, taking over a languishing show that had bounced between two networks before landing on CBS.
A scion of daytime television, Barker came from modest circumstances in Darrington, Washington. He grew up on a Sioux reservation in South Dakota after his father died during his childhood.
After serving a brief stint in the Navy Reserve toward the end of World War II, he received an economics degree from Drury University and started a radio show in Florida. That radio show brought him to Los Angeles in 1950, where he caught the attention of television producers and took over “Truth or Consequences” in 1956.
The shift to “The Price is Right” saw Barker handing over the keys to innumerable cars and other gifts to overjoyed contestants. The show became the longest-running game show in television history in 1990.
He received an Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995, and the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Game Show Host 14 times.
Barker also served as the longest-running host of the Miss America and Miss Universe pageants, heading those presentations for 20 years between 1967 and 1987. At the same time, he presented the Tournament of Roses Parade — the Pasadena, Calif., New Year’s tradition that precedes the famous Rose Bowl college football game.
He was accused of sexual harassment by a former “The Price is Right” employee in 1994, who claimed the pair had a three-year affair, which Barker later confirmed. She dropped the suit, citing its immense stress.
A notable animal rights activist, Barker was also a vegetarian. Spaying and neutering animals was his chief cause, and his charity — the DJ&T Foundation, named for his late wife — donated millions for neutering programs and animal shelters across the country.
His 20-year stint hosting pageants ended over that activism, after he stepped down in protest of models’ fur coat prizes.
In 2010, Barker put up $5 million to fund an anti-whaling ship organized by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Named in his honor, the M/Y Bob Barker helped discover and put international pressure on whaling in Japan.
He even brought the cause onto television, ending every episode of “The Price is Right” starting in 1982 with his signature plea:
“This is Bob Barker reminding you to help control the pet population — have your pets spayed or neutered.”
This story was updated at 3:55 p.m. EST.