“99 and Thriving: The Enduring Legacy of an Entertainer and Animal Activist”

In 1972, amidst significant events such as Don McLean’s chart-topping “American Pie,” Richard Nixon’s presidency overshadowed by the Watergate Scandal, and the launch of NASA’s Space Shuttle program, another cultural milestone unfolded: the debut of “The Price is Right” with legendary host Bob Barker. Barker, synonymous with the beloved game show, became an enduring entertainment icon, a household name spanning generations, captivating audiences for an impressive 35-year tenure.


Wikipedia Commons

Raised on a South Dakota Indian reservation, Bob Barker, a member of the Sioux Tribe, crossed paths with his future wife, Dorothy Jo Gideon, at an Ella Fitzgerald concert. Their love story began in high school and culminated in marriage in 1945, during Barker’s leave from the United States Navy Reserve, where he trained as a fighter pilot during World War II. While he didn’t serve on active duty, Barker pursued higher education, earning a degree in economics.

At the age of 99, Barker’s journey took a turn when his radio show in Los Angeles caught the attention of Ralph Edwards, a game show producer scouting for a host for “Truth or Consequences,” the inaugural televised game show. Hosting this immensely popular program from 1956 to 1975 elevated Barker’s profile. In 1967, he expanded his hosting duties to include the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants.

But the pinnacle came in 1972 when Barker graced the stage of “The Price is Right,” propelling both himself and the show into the realm of superstardom.


“The Price is Right” secured its place as the longest-running game show in history, a distinction it retains to this day. Barker, assuming the role of executive producer in 1988, amassed an impressive tally of 14 Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Game Show Host, alongside four Emmys for his contributions as an executive producer.

Bob Barker wife and girlfriend

In a 2008 interview with the Television Academy Foundation, Barker attributed much of his successful career to his late wife, acknowledging, “She gave me the confidence to even try to do what I set out to do. She didn’t just urge me on, she worked right at my side.”

Tragically, Gideon passed away from lung cancer in 1981 at the age of 57, leaving Barker, her husband of 36 years, behind. Reflecting on their bond, Barker remarked, “I never had any inclination to remarry. She was my wife.”

However, Barker did find companionship again with Nancy Burnet, who has been his partner for the past 40 years. Burnet revealed that Barker’s remarkable health can be attributed in part to his minimal use of medication over the years.

Approaching his 99th birthday in December, Burnet, now 79, shared with Fox News Digital, “He’s going to be 99, and he takes one prescription medication and that’s for his thyroid. And his health care or anyone who comes in to see him, they’ll say, ‘Well, we’d like a list of his medications.’ I’ll say, you know, let me just show you the bottle. That’s it. So, he does not take anything for blood pressure, cholesterol, the umpteen other things that most people take as they grow older.”

Burnet humorously added, “He’s in very good health for his age and his humor is still in good shape. He’s had a very charmed life.”


However, Barker’s journey has seen its share of challenges.

In 1999, he underwent surgery to address clumsiness in his hand, a result of a partially blocked artery, aiming to mitigate the risk of stroke. Three years later, he suffered a stroke, followed by prostate surgery. Despite being a sun enthusiast, Barker has contended with numerous bouts of mild skin cancer, multiple falls necessitating hospital visits, and significant back issues.

Burnet stepped in to provide assistance, bolstering Barker’s health with supplements. She clarified, “It was not to replace meals but to enhance everything. To take that in addition to his meals because he was not doing well. He was looking tired and kind of frail, not just not looking healthy. And, you know, if you’re going to be a vegetarian and vegan, you better know what you’re doing.”

Since retiring from his role on “The Price is Right,” now helmed by comedian Drew Carey, Barker has made occasional guest appearances, notably in 2013 for his 90th birthday celebration.


Barker on Truth or Consequences, circa 1958 / Wikipedia Commons

Burnet reflected on Barker’s enduring commitment to the show, remarking, “He never grew tired of it. I’m not sure I could do the same show every day. But he never grew bored with it. So maybe that’s why it was so successful because he was always ready to do it and happy to do it.”

Barker echoed this sentiment on Good Morning America in 2007, stating, “I am really not ready to say goodbye to it. So, I think it’s a good time to say goodbye because I want to leave them wanting more.”

Throughout his tenure, Barker accumulated numerous fond memories, from Vanna White’s appearance as a contestant before her rise to fame on Wheel of Fortune to the unforgettable moments when female contestants lost their tops in the excitement of the game.

However, beyond the entertainment, the show provided Barker with a significant platform to advocate for animal rights. His show-ending catchphrase, “This is Bob Barker reminding you to help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered,” became iconic and underscored his dedication to animal welfare.

Wikipedia Commons

He attributes his dedication to animal activism to his late wife, Gideon, whom he regards as his inspiration.

“She was ahead of her time,” Barker shared with Good Morning America. “She stopped wearing fur coats before anyone else did. She became a vegetarian before it was a popular choice. And gradually, I followed suit with her.”

Through his DJ&T Foundation, named after Gideon and his mother, Matilda, affectionately known as “Tilly,” both passionate about animals, Barker has contributed millions of dollars. His efforts have successfully implemented animal-rights curricula at prestigious law schools such as Harvard, Columbia, and Northwestern.

“If young people are exposed to the appalling exploitation and mistreatment of animals in society, it can shape their perspectives in everything they do,” Barker emphasized to the Associated Press in 2015. “When education and encouragement fall short, legislative action becomes necessary.”

Burnet, whom Barker met at an animal adoption event he hosted in 1983, shares his commitment to animal advocacy. Together, they actively campaign against animal entertainment.



What an extraordinary journey spanning almost a century! Throughout his nearly 100 years, Bob Barker has wielded a significant influence on the world. We are truly fortunate to have individuals like Barker, a shining example of using celebrity status for the noble cause of aiding innocent animals.

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