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  1980   Arts and Entertainment   December 12, 1923
    Mission, SD  
Robert "Bob" Barker
Bob Barker was born in Darrington, WA, but spent most of his youth on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in Mission, SD. His mother, Matilda Tarleton Barker, was a schoolteacher, County Superintendent of Schools for Todd County and wrote a history of the state ("Our State") for South Dakota sixth graders. His father, Byron John Barker, was an electrical power foreman who died in a fall from a utility pole in 1929. His mother remarried to Louis Valandra in 1937. After her second marriage, Matilda quit teaching and the family moved to Springfield, MO, where Bob attended high school and Drury College on a basketball scholarship. When World War II intervened, he became a Navy fighter pilot, but the war ended before he was assigned to a seagoing squadron.

Following his discharge, Barker returned to Drury and took a job at a local radio station to help finance his studies. It was there that he discovered that what he did best was to host audience participation shows. After graduating summa cum laude with a degree in economics, Bob went to work for a radio station in Palm Beach, FL. A year later he moved to Los Angeles, and within a week, he was the host of his own radio program, The Bob Barker Show.

Barker made his debut on national television as the host of the popular "Truth Or Consequences." Ralph Edwards, the show's founder, had sold the show to NBC as a daytime strip, but he had not chosen a host. He auditioned potential hosts in Hollywood and New York for weeks, but when he heard "The Bob Barker Show" on his car radio, he knew he had found the man for the job. Barker hosted "Truth Or Consequences" for an unbelievable 18 years, and he and Edwards remained close friends.

Barker has been twice named in the Guinness Book of World Records as television's "Most Durable Performer," 3,524 consecutive performances on "Truth Or Consequences," and "Most Generous Host in Television History" for awarding $55 million in prizes on his various shows. During the ensuing years, the $55 million figure has grown to more than $350 million.

The "Price Is Right" is not only America's highest rated daytime game show, it is also the longest running game show in television history, surpassing "What's My Line'" which ran for 18 seasons. TV Guide named "The Price Is Right" the “greatest game show of all time.” Bob serves as the show's executive producer. On April 26, 2002, Bob broke Johnny Carson’s record for continuous performances on the same network television show.

Barker has won a total of 17 Emmy awards - 13 as TV host, more than any other performer, three as Executive Producer of "The Price Is Right" and the Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award for Daytime Television in 2004. He has also received the coveted Carbon Mike Award of the Pioneer Broadcasters and was named the most popular game show host of all time in a national poll. He has graced our television screen for over five decades.

Bob made his motion picture debut in Universal Pictures’ "Happy Gilmore" in which he appeared as himself with Adam Sandler. His real acting debut, however, came when he was asked to play Mel Harris’ father in NBC’s "Something So Right."

Another recent honor came when one of the most historic sites in the history of television, Stage 33 at CBS Television City in Los Angeles, was re-dedicated as the Bob Barker Studio in ceremonies following the taping of the 5,000th episode of "The Price Is Right" in March of 1998. Barker is the first performer to whom CBS has ever dedicated a stage.

Stage 33, opened in November 1952, has been the home of such legendary television series as "The Jack Benny Show," "The Red Skelton Show" and "The Carol Burnett Show," as well as some of the network's most memorable entertainment specials starring such performers as Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Judy Garland. The "Gary Moore Show," based in New York, used the stage during its annual trip to the West Coast, and "The Ed Sullivan Show," used it for all of its West Coast inserts. It was from Stage 33, in fact, that Elvis Presley made his historic first appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

In the last 25 years, Bob has become the most visible figure in the animal rights movement and one of its most eloquent speakers. He has refused offers to do commercials for sponsors because of the animal cruelty involved in the development and manufacture of their products. In 1988, after hosting the Miss USA and Miss Universe Pageants for 21 years, Bob resigned because the producers refused to remove fur coats from the prize packages. The first telecast of the Miss USA Pageant without Bob as host resulted in a decline in rating of 29%. He also resigned as host of "The Patsy Awards" when he learned that trainers frequently use cruel methods to force animals to perform in movies.

Bob established the DJ&T Foundation in 1995, the purpose of which is to help control the dog and cat population. He is funding the foundation through his own resources to support low-cost or free spay/neuter clinics. According to him, over population is one of our most tragic animal problems. The foundation is named in memory of his wife Dorothy and his mother Matilda (Tilly), both of whom love all animals.

He has also established million dollar endowment funds for the study of animal law at seven of the nation's finest law schools: Harvard, Columbia, Duke, Standford, UCLA, Georgetown, and Northwestern.

 
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