Daytime television just took a major hit. I'm not looking forward to sitting on the couch with the flu nearly so much anymore...
The price isn't going to be quite as right come next June.
Bob Barker announced Tuesday he will retire in 2007 after 50 years in television, 35 of which he spent as the host of The Price Is Right
"I will be 83 years old on Dec. 12, and I've decided to retire while I'm still young," the famed daytime personality told the Associated Press. "I've gone on and on to this ancient age because I've enjoyed it. I've thoroughly enjoyed it, and I'm going to miss it."
While Barker has considered hanging it up for the past 10 years, he said he's been having too much fun to walk away for good, but he figured reaching his golden anniversary was an "appropriate" time.
"I'm just reaching the age where the constant effort to be there and do the show physically is a lot for me," he said, sounding a bit like another TV icon who announced his intention to slow down after half a century on the air, 60 Minutes
' Mike Wallace.
Barker had a mild stroke in May 2002 and had prostate surgery six weeks later—none of which caused him to miss a show, mind you.
Since The Price Is Right
premiered Sept. 4, 1972, with Barker enticing people for the first time to "come on down," he has only missed three episodes (back in 1974). The longest running game show on the air is currently on in two half-hour installments every weekday, with the later one averaging 5.5 million viewers a day, per Nielsen Media Research.
"We knew this day would come, but that doesn't make it any easier," CBS Corp. president Leslie Moonves said in a statement. "Bob Barker is a daytime legend, an entertainment icon and one of the most beloved television personalities of our time."
The former Miss Universe
and Miss USA Pageant
host got his start in radio before being discovered by eventual This Is Your Life
host Ralph Edwards, who said he liked the sound of Barker's voice. Barker went on to host the TV game show Truth or Consequences
from 1956 until 1975, overlapping with Price
for a few years.
A CBS spokesperson told Reuters that Price
will go on after Barker's departure, but "it's premature to discuss any transition plans right now. Our focus now will be giving Bob a proper sendoff." A CBS prime-time special celebrating the man is also in the works, he said.
Barker's advice for whomever signs on to replace him is this: Memorize everything.
"The games have to be just like riding a bicycle," he said, referring to the show's numerous pricing games (80 at last count) in which contestants make bids to win larger prizes, like cars and trips.
"Then he will be relaxed enough to have fun with the audience—to get the laughs with his contestants and make the show more than just straight games—to make it a lot of fun."
Well, Barker should know.
While the silver-haired emcee has always had a smile for his studio audience and millions of at-home viewers, it wasn't too long ago that Barker was accused of enjoying his hosting duties a little too much.
In 1993, one of Barker's Beauties (models who provided the show's eye candy in case you got tired of looking at dining sets and Chryslers), Dian Parkinson, sued the host for sexual harassment, seeking $8 million. Barker eventually admitted to having a relationship with her in 1989, and Parkinson, who was on the show from 1975 until...1993, dropped the suit in 1995.
Another veteran Beauty, Holly Hallstrom, complained in 1995 that she was fired for failing to lose weight, prompting Barker to file a defamation suit. Hallstrom countersued for medical condition, age discrimination and retaliation, and though a trial court tossed the suit, an appeals court ruled it valid in 2004, and she eventually collected a $3 million settlement.
Barker was a codefendant in these various situations, named alongside Price
owner FremantleMedia and other entities.
Legal troubles didn't end the Barker's Beauties tradition, however. Earlier this year, Tyra Banks
appeared as a guest Beauty, assisting on the pricing games It's in the Bag and Card Game. Baywatch
's Gena Lee Nolin
and Ian's ex, Nikki Ziering, are also former Beauties.
When asked what he's going to do once retirement kicks in next year, Barker, an avid golfer (just ask Happy Gilmore) and martial artist said he's going to "sit down for maybe a couple of weeks and find out what it feels like to be bored."
"From the bottom of my heart, I thank the television viewers," he said, "because they have made it possible for me to earn a living for 50 years doing something that I thoroughly enjoy. They have invited me into their homes daily for a half a century."