‘The Price Is Right’ icon Bob Barker dead at 99

WASHINGTON — Bob Barker, who graced TV screens for half a century as a game show host, including 35 years skippering “The Price Is Right,” has died. He was 99. 
Barker’s longtime publicist, Roger Neal, confirmed the star’s death in a statement reported by several outlets, including TMZ and NBC News. “I am so proud of the trailblazing work Barker and I did together to expose the cruelty to animals in the entertainment industry and including working to improve the plight of abused and exploited animals in the United States and internationally,” said Nancy Burnet, his longtime friend and caretaker, in a statement.
Robert William Barker was born December 12, 1923, in Darrington, Washington. He spent much of his life living with his mother on an Indian reservation in South Dakota before moving to Springfield, Missouri as a teen.
Barker attended Drury College (now Drury University) in Springfield. but left in 1943 to become a Navy fighter pilot in the reserve during World War II. The war ended before he was given an active duty assignment and he returned to Drury, according to Biography.com. He graduated with an economics degree.    
While living in Springfield, he got a part-time job in radio. He used that experience to move to California in 1950, where he got his own radio show, “The Bob Barker Show,” which he hosted for six years.
That led to his big break on television, becoming the host of the game show “Truth or Consequences” in 1956 and continuing until 1974. During his final couple of years on that show, he started up what would be his claim to fame — hosting “The Price Is Right.”
Barker also hosted the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants from 1967 to 1987. A strong animal rights advocate, Barker quit after the pageants refused to remove a fur coat as one of the prizes.                                                         
Barker retired from “The Price Is Right” in 2007, ending a 35-year run on the show and a 50-year career in television. Barker made a handful of appearances on the show after his retirement, including on April 1, 2015, when he briefly replaced current host Drew Carey as an April Fools’ Day joke. Pursuing his passion of fighting for animal rights, Barker would sign off “The Price Is Right” each day by encouraging viewers to help control the domestic animal population by having their pets spayed or neutered. He also donated millions to universities so their law schools could create programs aimed at focusing on animal rights.
Thanks to a $5 million donation from Barker, the Sea Shepherd society purchased and outfitted a vessel for the purpose of stopping a Japanese Whaling mission near Antarctica, according to the New York Times. The ship was named the MY Bob Barker.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in 2012 opened the “Bob Barker Building” as its West Coast headquarters thanks to a $2.5 million donation from Barker.
Barker made a famous turn on the big screen in 1996 when he played himself partnered with Adam Sandler’s “Happy Gilmore” in a celebrity golf tournament. It ended with Barker and Sandler in a brawl that Barker won. The scene won the “Best Fight Sequence” award at the MTV Movie Awards.       
Barker’s time on “The Price Is Right” was marred by a handful of workplace scandals. The most public of these was a lawsuit by Dian Parkinson, a model on the show, who alleged in 1994 that Barker threatened her job if she didn’t have sex with him. Barker, who was a widower at the time, admitted the two had a prior “hanky panky” relationship, but said Parkinson initiated it. Parkinson later dropped the lawsuit, saying the stress of it was harming her health.
Barker married Dorothy Jo Gideon in 1945. They remained married until her death from cancer in 1981. Barker did not remarry and had no children.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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