‘The Price Is Right’: How Many Years Did Bob Barker Host the Show?

The Price is Right has become a staple of daytime TV shows.

The current host, Drew Carey, is a certified star. Carey had his own sitcom, and has hosted popular primetime shows like Whose Line is it Anyway?  His decision to host The Price is Right proves that it’s a hit. The game show’s status is almost entirely thanks to its first host, Bob Barker.

Although Barker was relatively unknown before The Price is Right, he would come to personify the ideal game show host.

Bob Barker’s career started in radio 

Bob Barker
Bob Barker | JB Lacroix/WireImage

Becoming a renowned television game show host wasn’t always in Barker’s career plan. He was born in 1923, which means he will turn 97 this year. Interestingly, he was a small-town basketball star.

Barker graduated high school in Missouri, and then attended Drury College on a basketball scholarship. Instead of pursuing a career as a pro ball player, however, Barker decided to leave college early and do his civic duty.

The country was in the midst of World War II, and Barker trained as a fighter pilot. The war ended before he finished, and he went back to finish school. He ended up graduating with a degree in Economics, which is somehow led to an early career in radio. 

Barker seemed to jump around a lot in his early career aspirations, from basketball player, to pilot, and then finally to economist. But all that varied experience somehow led him to The Bob Barker Show, a radio show that he hosted in Burbank, California in the 1950s.  

Before ‘The Price is Right,’ Bob Barker only had one other television credit 

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Barker had his heart set on a career in broadcasting, but when the opportunity to host a game show on television came around, he wasn’t about to turn it down.

Barker’s first game show hosting gig wasn’t actually The Price is Right. In 1956, after six years on the radio, he was asked to help take a radio show to television. 

Truth or Consequences was a popular radio program, and producers wanted to see if it could make the jump to the small screen. They chose Barker to host. He would stay on until 1974, when the original Truth or Consequences was taken off the air.

While he was still hosting Truth or Consequences, he had the opportunity to host another showThe Price is Right. Barker decided to do both shows at the same time, and it ended up being a great choice. 

Bob Barker hosted ‘The Price is Right’ for more than three decades 

Despite the frequent changes in direction of Barker’s early career, once he became a game show host, he had found his calling. After almost 20 years on Truth or Consequences, he signed on to a new game showThe Price is Right. The show had already been on the air since 1950, although it jumped around from station to station. In 1972, The Price is Right moved to CBS, with Barker as host. He would host Truth or Consequences and The Price is Right simultaneously for two years. 

The Price is Right became the longest-running daytime game show in TV history under Barker’s watch. His catchphrase, “Come on down!” is partially credited for the show’s success.

Barker was able to use the phrase as a kind of branding for the show, and it certainly caught on in popular culture. Barker himself holds a prominent place in American pop culture, and has played himself in numerous television shows and movies, including Adam Sandler’s Happy Gilmore. 

Barker hosted The Price is Right until 2007. He retired after 35 years on the game show, and 50 years total as a game show host.