The idea of the American Dream certainly has changed in the 21st century, but the old fashioned concept was the white picket fence in front of a home you owned, two cars, and a job that you worked at for 40 years and retired with a gold watch for your loyalty and dedication. A company pension was also part of the deal. Bob Barker, the former host of the longest running daytime television show in history, is 95 years old and has seen those transitions over the past 60 years. With a current estimated net worth of $70 million as of 2019, he has earned that dream by being one of the most consistent daytime show hosts in history. From his early days of serving in the Navy as a jet fighter pilot in World War II, Barker would work long and hard to become one of America’s best known and most popular television personalities.
After leaving the Navy he would earn a Bachelor’s degree from Drury University and work part time as a radio show host. That initial experience led him to pursue a career in broadcasting, a career that would span more than 60 years, finally ending in 2007. That final year as host of The Price is Right would earn him a $10 million salary. Few careers have that kind of departing salary.
But his starting salary in the business was nowhere near as profitable. While he did start the aforementioned career as a radio show host, he did it under his own name – The Bob Barker Show. That first gig would last him 6 long years until he got recognized and moved on to host the memorable TV show, Truth or Consequences. It was the first of many other TV shows he would do, successfully making the transition from radio to television smoothly. Two of those shows, That’s My Line (not to be confused with What’s My Line) and Simon Says, immediately preceded what was to be his hallmark show for the next 35 years.
The Price is Right – Hallmark Show
Consistent with his work ethic, The Price is Right was the first TV game show in history to go from 30 minutes to a full hour, doubling Barker’s workload. Of course, there was a salary increase to accommodate those longer working hours, but that one hour format would result in the millions of future dollars he would earn by being its sole host.
With his long history of success, there are people who wonder why he doesn’t have a higher net worth. The reason is that Barker has been a well-known animal rights activist and philanthropist. Faithful viewers of his show remember him signing off every day urging people to have their pet spayed or neutered to control the pet population. Current host of the show, Drew Carey, continues to sign off in the same manner. Barker spent $1 million of his own money to have three African elephants transferred from the Toronto Zoo because he didn’t believe they should be kept in such small confines. That money was spent to move them to a California wildlife sanctuary.
Personal Life and Causes
While he keeps his politics relatively close to the vest, he is a financial supporter of the politically controversial group PETA, spending $2.5 million to establish their Los Angeles headquarters. But humor has been one of Bob Barker’s trademarks, so on April 1, 2015, Barker made a surprise April Fool’s Day appearance (apparently for free) on that days’ The Price is Right. The show opened with him walking slowly out of the doors, greeted with a standing ovation and 5 minutes of applause. He returned to his old form, then 90 years old, by opening up the first gift for bidding. It is worth noting that while Barker made no small amount of money hosting the show, he would give away more than $200 million of prizes over his 35 year history. After the contestant won the bid, they had the opportunity to personally meet Barker on stage, and then Drew Carey came out to take over the rest of the show.
Part of the American Dream is to get married and raise a family. Bob Barker was able to do only one of the two however. He was married for more than 30 years until his wife Dorothy, died in 1981 of cancer. The couple did not have any children, and it is not known if he had himself spayed to help control the global population.
It can be said that there are few celebrities that escape some type of Hollywood scandal during their careers, and Barker was no exception. 13 years after the death of his wife, The Price is Right model Dian Parkinson, accused Barker of sexual harassment. She followed up by filing suit against him in court, but later dropped the suit. For Barker’s part, he publicly admitted he was seeing Parkinson but maintained the relationship and subsequent activities were mutual and consensual.
Later Years, Scandal
The last 10 years of hosting the show would be scandal free, and his popularity never wavered, nor did the show’s ratings. In fact, this Parkinson episode may have actually solidified his position as host of the show for that last decade. The impact of just an accusation of sexual harassment in 2019 would have ruined many celebrity careers. CBS, the station that currently airs the show, likely breathed a sigh of relief when the Parkinson affair was behind them.
There are few who do not consider Bob Barker’s philanthropy and warm personality trademarks of his life and career. Animal rights activists know his name well, despite his staying away from the political limelight. The television studio where The Price is Right is broadcast from is rightly named “The Bob Barker Studio.” At 95, he is in good health, the only ding was a recent visit to the hospital for a back injury.