The network that Bob Barker called home for more than 35 years, CBS, paid tribute to the late The Price is Right host with a special on Thursday, featuring current host Drew Carey taking fans through a journey of Barker’s life and career.
News of Barker’s passing was announced on Saturday, August 26. He was 99, a fitting number for a man whose career was filled with them: Barker hosted more than 6,000 episodes of the show over three and a half decades, welcoming more than 2 million people in studio and giving away over $200 million in prizes in the process, while earning 14 Emmy awards for Outstanding Game Show Host. It would be impossible to determine the precise number of times he was swept off his feet or kissed on the cheek by prize-winners caught up in the excitement of their big moments, all presided over by Barker himself.
Thursday’s special, The Price is Right: A Tribute to Bob Barker, began with Carey speaking from the show’s set and reminding people that before Barker became an icon on The Price is Right, he was already a fixture on TV through the game show Truth or Consequences. He was also a radio host prior to that and a naval aviator in WWII, on his way to becoming what Carey described as, “a legend.”
“While that word gets thrown around all too much these days, it couldn’t be more appropriate when you think about Bob’s time on The Price is Right,” Carey said. “Bob’s skills were second nature to him, he was a master of the game. But he also knew who the real stars of the show were: the contestants.”
That set up one of many clip montages highlighting Barker’s skills as a host and, as Carey said, his “ability to bring out the best in everyone.” Plus, they showcased how well Barker handled unexpected moments and mishaps, along with just how funny and quick-witted he was, as evidenced by a few of these lines:
“Until next time, this is Bob Barker saying … why don’t I get more money?”
“I want you to remember at home, that I am Bobalicious.”
And about one exuberant prize winner, “There he goes! There he goes! He’s gone! He’s out in the audience. I don’t know where he’s headed!”
The tribute also featured an older interview with Barker telling his career story in a little more detail (“My dream, as a little boy, was to pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals, but I didn’t because of a total lack of talent,” he quipped), along with a look at his very first time hosting what was called The New Price is Right at the time, as it was rebooting from a hiatus to become the more loud and fun product-bidding show that it is today.
Viewers also got to see Barker assisting in the introduction of the big wheel when The Price is Right went from a 30- to a 60-minute program, and the very first time Barker and a contestant played the Plinko game.
“Some of our people drink, and that’s how they came up with these names,” Barker joked.
Also included in the special were clips of some of the celebrities who have joined Barker on stage through the years, such as Betty White, Chuck Norris, Burt Reynolds and, of course, Adam Sandler. The latter surprised the host during Barker’s 50 years in TV milestone show right after the scene of their famous Happy Gilmore fight was played for the audience.
The tribute showed Barker’s final appearance on The Price is Right, during the 2015 April Fools episode when he came out instead of Carey during the show open and proceeded to host the first game of the episode with a contestant.
To close the special, Carey spoke a bit about the legacy Barker left behind with his fans.
“Thanks to Bob, The Price is Right became a part of the American fabric,” Carey said. “A multigenerational legacy of viewers who loved him, along with the shared experience of watching the show with their grandparents, kids, or when they were home sick from school. A bond that lasts to this very day.”
Carey also spoke of the “six now very famous words” that animal activist Barker will forever be known for, followed by a clip of the last time that Barker said it: “Have your pets spayed or neutered.” And then an emotional Carey ended the tribute with this:
“On behalf of all people and animals everywhere, thank you Bob Barker.”
The Price is Right airs weekdays on CBS, check local listings.