Bob Barker, an Everlasting Force in Entertainment and Animal Advocacy, Thrives at 99

The year 1972 was marked by significant events. Don McLean’s chart-topping song “American Pie” dominated the music scene, Richard Nixon served as the president while his administration grappled with concealing its involvement in the Watergate Scandal, NASA’s Space Shuttle program was officially launched, and Bob Barker, the renowned host of the game show “The Price is Right,” delighted audiences by giving away brand new cars valued at under $4000.

Bob Barker, synonymous with “The Price is Right,” is an entertainment legend and a household name that transcends generations. He hosted the immensely popular game show for an impressive 35 years.

This year, Barker celebrates a remarkable milestone—reaching a century of life. Born and raised on an Indian reservation in South Dakota, Barker, a member of the Sioux Tribe, met his future wife, Dorothy Jo Gideon, at an Ella Fitzgerald concert. He married Gideon, his high school sweetheart, in 1945 while on leave from the United States Navy Reserve. During World War II, Barker underwent fighter pilot training, although he didn’t serve in active duty. After the war, he returned to university and earned a degree in economics.

At the time Barker turned 99, he was hosting a radio show in Los Angeles when he caught the attention of Ralph Edwards, a game show producer in search of a new host for the groundbreaking show “Truth or Consequences,” which became the first game show to be televised. Hosting this immensely popular show from 1956 to 1975, Barker’s popularity soared. In 1967, he began hosting the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants.

However, the turning point in Barker’s career occurred in 1972 when he graced the stage of “The Price is Right,” propelling both himself and the show to unparalleled superstardom. “The Price is Right” secured its place as the longest-running game show in history, a record it still holds. In 1988, Barker served as the executive producer of the show and received 14 Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Game Show Host, along with four Emmys for his role as executive producer.

Bob Barker attributes his successful career to his late wife, whom he credits with giving him the confidence to pursue his ambitions. He recalls her unwavering support and says, “She didn’t just encourage me; she worked right by my side.” Sadly, Gideon passed away from lung cancer in 1981, leaving behind her husband of 36 years.

While Barker never remarried, he found companionship with Nancy Burnet, his partner of 40 years. Burnet reveals that Barker’s limited use of medication over the years has been instrumental in maintaining his good health. As his 99th birthday approached, Burnet shared with Fox News Digital that Barker takes only one prescription medication for his thyroid. Remarkably, he does not require medication for blood pressure, cholesterol, or other common ailments associated with aging. Burnet jokingly presents his one prescription bottle to healthcare providers who inquire about his medication list, emphasizing his exceptional health for his age. She lovingly remarks, “He’s in very good health for his age, and his humor is still intact. He’s had a truly charmed life.” However, this was not always the case.

In 1999, Barker underwent surgery to address a partially blocked artery and reduce the risk of stroke, following symptoms of hand clumsiness. In 2002, he experienced a stroke and later underwent prostate surgery. Being a lover of the sun, Barker has also battled mild cases of skin cancer, endured falls necessitating hospital visits, and struggled with significant back problems.

Burnet played a crucial role in supporting Barker’s well-being, enhancing his strength with dietary supplements. These supplements were not intended to replace meals but rather to complement his nutrition. Recognizing Barker’s declining vitality, Burnet explains, “He was looking tired and kind of frail, not just not looking healthy. And, you know, if you’re going to be a vegetarian and vegan, you better know what you’re doing.”

After retiring from his role on “The Price is Right,” which is now hosted by comedian Drew Carey, Barker made occasional guest appearances, including a notable one on his 90th birthday in 2013. Burnet acknowledges that Barker never grew weary of the show, an accomplishment she finds admirable, as she believes she would struggle with the repetition of hosting the same program daily. She suggests that Barker’s perpetual enthusiasm contributed to the show’s enduring success, stating, “He never grew bored with it. So maybe that’s why it was so successful because he was always ready to do it and happy to do it.”

Barker himself expressed a reluctance to bid farewell to the show during an interview on Good Morning America in 2007, stating, “I am really not ready to say goodbye to it. So, I think it’s a good time to say goodbye because I want to leave them wanting more.” Departing with countless memorable moments, including Vanna White’s appearance as a contestant before her rise to fame on “Wheel of Fortune” and female contestants losing their tops in excitement, Barker considers the show’s most significant achievement to be its platform for promoting animal welfare.

Bob Barker is widely recognized as an advocate for animal rights. His famous sign-off catchphrase on the show, “This is Bob Barker reminding you to help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered,” reflects his commitment to raising awareness about animal well-being. Barker attributes his late wife Gideon as his inspiration for animal activism, highlighting her forward-thinking choices such as abstaining from wearing fur coats and adopting a vegetarian lifestyle before they gained mainstream popularity. In honor of Gideon and his mother, Matilda, who were both passionate about animals, Barker established the DJ&T Foundation. Through this foundation, he has made substantial donations, successfully implementing animal rights curricula at prestigious law schools such as Harvard, Columbia, and Northwestern. Barker firmly believes that educating young people about the mistreatment and exploitation of animals in society will influence their future actions. When education and encouragement fail, Barker stresses the importance of legislation in safeguarding animals’ rights.

Nancy Burnet, whom Barker met at an animal adoption event he hosted in 1983, actively supports animal advocacy alongside him. Together, they campaign against animal entertainment. Barker’s influence on the world throughout his nearly 100 years of life is undeniable. His passionate dedication and utilization of his celebrity status to advocate for innocent animals have left an indelible mark. We are truly fortunate to have individuals like Barker, who exemplify power and compassion, in our midst.

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