So many of our lives are involved with what we choose to do when we're not “adulting” — when we're recovering from a cold, basking in the freedom of a summer day, or simply trying to find some comfort in a world that often demands we actually “go over” even if we're feeling way “under” the weather.
For generations, Bob Barker and The Price is Right have been there in those moments, offering not just a game show but one of many dwindling everyday experiences we share as Americans. Below? Moments from Bob Barker's career that were, well, priceless.
1. A Priceless Fight
Is this the post-modern cameo of a generation? Not only did Mr. Barker show up, he came to play. Of course, there had been cameos and people playing themselves before – including the late Alex Trebek. But for kids of a certain age, it was wild to see this old, studious, ostensibly very important, serious man hosting a serious show about sliding pucks down a peg board get in a fistfight.
It could be argued that this moment was the meta flash point that allowed folks like Adam West, Jean Claude Van Dam, Nicholas Cage, and Arnold Schwarzenegger himself the ability to kid themselves and maintain their credibility.
2. The Boy Who's Sioux
Bob Barker is 1/8th Sioux and grew up on a Native American Reservation. In a time when it wasn't very cool to do so, he claimed pride in being a Sioux warrior.
3. WWE Raw: The Smackdown
Hosting and modeling should be noticed as requiring skill, dedication, and craft. It's about presence, control, and authority in an inherently fake environment. The Price is Right is people guessing the price of products advertisers want you to buy and then playing retirement cruise games to think about the cost of other products the advertisers want you to buy.
Bob Barker (and the producers and talented below-the-line peons) make that premise a show.
4. The Spin-off
The best game show moment in television history is Gilbert Gottfried on the Hollywood Squares reboot. It's the first result for “You Fool!” on YouTube.
But this epic spin-off, one of many moments bound to happen throughout thousands of hours of live television, is among the most fascinating. Notable is how touchy-feely Mr. Barker is only a scant…many decades ago, and then the wonderful close-up when Barker explains exactly how bored we all must be.
5. Rosie O'Donnell
Rosie O'Donnell is to Late Night Comedy as the Muppets were to Saturday Night Live. Through her and her show, kids home sick from school and many more got a pop culture primer – theatre, film, the notion of an idol, and a heartthrob, and hip hop and jokes – and jokes written by kids like me – you mean, you can be funny…for money? Really?
So it was the crossover episode of the century when Mr. Barker squooshed balled his way on Rosie's show – played up his image – you can tell this was a man who got Rosie through some challenging days. And he understood what the crowd was looking for.
6. Plinko Bucks
Do you want to watch a guy who needs it catch a giant break? Of course, you do. Price is Right‘s biggest game, giving out its second biggest-ever prize to this point, and a man not afraid to wear his heart and tears and joys all over his face.
Indeed, the kind of magic the game show was invented for.
7. Mustache You a Question
Go, Michael. Here's a fella who manages to be a character and have character. He is an outwardly odd duck, and the audience regards him like a goof, but Michael proves everybody wrong in a display of confidence, triumph, and assurance rare in this world for people twice as normal. It's fantastic.
8. World War II: The Fighter Pilot
It's…easy to forget, or at least easy for me to forget, that folks born in the late 20s most likely served in World War 2, Korea, and even potentially Vietnam. Barker was in the Navy and fought in World War 2.
9. A Perfect Bid
It's better to be lucky sometimes; watch as Bob realizes in real-time exactly how silly a contestant's bid on a treadmill is – As they bid $999, a dollar below the lowest bid, and as dumb luck would have it…
10. Barker's Bodies
Great Scott! Robert Scott Wilson, that is. I'm not sure which wave of feminism it is that suggests hiring an underwear model to take the job of another woman on The Price is Right is progress, but it is the sprinkles that make the sundae.
Bob Barker's legacy is not without tarnish, and while the details remain murky, the settlement timeframe suggests there was perhaps some there. So, for the show to get a male model and to diverse that role makes sense and perhaps seeks to
His story reminds us that it's okay to enjoy the work of flawed individuals, but it's equally crucial to use those flaws as catalysts for positive change. Critically examining the past can pave the way for a more inclusive and respectful future for everyone in the entertainment industry and beyond.