A TV legend lost. Bob Barker died on Saturday, August 26, at age 99.
His publicist, Roger Neal, confirmed the news to Us Weekly, noting that Barker died of natural causes at his home.
“It is with profound sadness that we announce that the World’s Greatest MC who ever lived, Bob Barker, has left us,” Neal said in a statement on Saturday.
Nancy Burnet — Barker’s longtime friend who has overseen his care and is the co-executor of Barker’s estate — added in a statement: “I am so proud of the trailblazing work Barker and I did together to expose the cruelty to animals in the entertainment industry and including working to improve the plight of abused and exploited animals in the United States and internationally. We were great friends over these 40 years. He will be missed.”
Barker is survived by half-brother Kent Valandra and nephews Robert Valandra and Chip Valandra as well as niece Vickie Valandra Kelly.
Barker was best known for being the first host of The Price Is Right, which is the longest-running game show of all time in the United States. He started his role in September 1972 and continued until his retirement in June 2007, when he was replaced by Drew Carey.
“I want to retire while I’m still young,” Barker told USA Today in 2006 ahead of his 83rd birthday. “I could do the show another year, but I’d rather quit a year too soon than a year too late.”
The Washington native didn’t stay away for long. He made three post-retirement appearances on the CBS game show: in April 2009 to promote his autobiography Priceless Memories, in December 2013 to celebrate his 90th birthday and in April 2015 for a surprise April Fool’s Day switch with Carey during the show’s introduction.
The TV host advocated for animal rights throughout much of his life. In 1987, he resigned from hosting the Miss Universe and Miss USA beauty pageants in 1987 due to the competitions’ continued practice of giving away fur prizes. He famously signed off each episode of The Price Is Right with his signature phrase, “Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.” Carey continued the sign-off when he took over the hosting gig.
The activist founded the DJ&T Foundation in 1994, naming it after his late wife, Dorothy Jo Gideon, and his mother, Tilly Valandra, both of whom shared his love for animals. Barker and Gideon were high school sweethearts, married from January 1945 until the latter died from lung cancer in October 1981 at 91.
Prior to The Price Is Right, the Drury University alum hosted Truth or Consequences on NBC from December 1956 to 1974. He made his big screen debut in the 1996 film Happy Gilmore opposite Adam Sandler.
The former U.S. Navy fighter pilot was honored with the Daytime Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1999. He was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 2004 and the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2007.
Barker spoke about staying occupied during retirement in a 2013 interview with Yahoo! Entertainment. “I’m so busy, actually, that I think sometimes about going back into TV to get some rest! I loved what I was doing,” he told the outlet. “I did two shows — Truth or Consequences and Price — and I loved them both. I had great fun, and every morning, I got up ready to go. I never got up going ‘I don’t wanna go to work today.’ Anyone who doesn’t enjoy his or her job, I have sympathy for. It’s important to love what you’re doing, and I did.”