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For game show fans, Bob Barker’s long run as the host of The Price is Right stands as one of the classic performances of the genre.

Barker served in the role for an astounding 35 years that began in 1972 and ended in 2007. This lengthy performance left Barker in a fascinating position that walked a line between nostalgia and progress.

Fans of The Price is Right watched some iconic parts of the show remain for decades — including many of the games and the overall feel of the wacky audience who would dress up in hopes of getting picked to compete. At the same time, Barker’s aging was a sure sign of the times passing, and the prizes, prices, and items on the show had to change with them. 

Fans of the classic game show might be interested in learning a little more about Barker now that he has been enjoying retirement. 

‘The Price is Right’ was originally in black and white

 Bob Barker
Bob Barker | Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images

The Price is Right is truly a classic. As Mental Floss reports, the series first premiered on NBC in 1956. At the time, Bill Cullen was the host, and that iteration ran until 1965. It was revived in 1972 on CBS with Barker at the helm, and he remained in the position as host for a remarkably long time.

In fact, Barker held the record for most television episodes recorded until he was bested by fellow game show host Alex Trebek. Interestingly enough, Trebek also took over a rebooted version of an older game show when he became Jeopardy!‘s host in 1984. 

While Jeopardy! is largely known for its intellectual prowess and serious tone, The Price is Right is filled with goofy fun. In particular, contestants are chosen from the audience and often dress in flamboyant or ridiculous costumes in order to stand out and get picked.

A man named Stan Blits had the job of checking each potential participant before they made it into the audience. “I am looking for energy, sincerity, and potential humor. And if they can equal my energy or exceed it and maintain it, they are at the top of the list,” Blits explained. 

Bob Barker’s looks were a part of the show


‘The Price Is Right’: Are Bob Barker and Drew Carey Friends?

When you’re the face of a show for 35 consecutive years, your appearance is obviously going to become part of it. Barker had already been hosting for 15 years when he decided it was time to let the viewers in on a little secret — he had gone gray.

Barker initially went gray at just his temples, but the filming made it look like he was bald in those spots, so he started tinting his hair at the show creator’s suggestion. The tint created an odd hue, so Barker started dyeing his hair instead. That, too, went awry, and when he went on vacation, Barker just let it go. 

When he came back with a full head of gray hair, the producers suggested that he keep it that way: “When I came home the people on the show said, ‘You look better this way than you do with it dyed or tinted. Why don’t you leave it this way?'”

Since the show filmed episodes in advance, to viewers at home it looked like Barker literally went gray overnight! However, Barker insists that ratings went up once he decided to let his natural locks shine through. 

Bob Barker left big shoes to fill 

Bob Barker, who is 6’1″ tall per IMDb, left big shoes to fill — literally and figuratively. When he announced his retirement in 2007, there was debate about who could possibly replace him.

Rosie O’Donnell was considered for the gig, and she even had Barker’s endorsement. “There’s no doubt in my mind she could do the show,” Barker said. It wasn’t O’Donnell who clinched the spot, however, but Drew Carey. Barker wasn’t exactly thrilled with Carey’s take on his old position and made a comment that the press dove on: “I tried to make the show really exciting and uh, he doesn’t do that. He plays the games.”

When the press pounced on these comments, Barker was quick to retort, “To think that I would say anything derogatory about him is idiocy. I would not criticize Drew Carey. I would not criticize this show. I would not criticize CBS … because I have a sizable royalty that I am paid every year this show is on, and it’s going on for years.”

That royalty check has carried the now 96-year-old former game show host into a comfortable retirement. According to USA Today, the last few years have been marked with some health challenges and back problems, and Barker has been spending much of his time quietly at home with family.