The popular game show host discusses why the time is right to leave The Price Is Right.
It's official. It's the end of an era. Bob Barker is retiring. For decades - and generations - he has been a staple on our television screens, but as of June he will be off the air. As he sat down for his final press conference he jested about his age and his future plans.
"In December  I became 83 years old, and I want to retire while I'm still young." So, what will this man who has been such a figure on daytime TV do with himself once he is off the air? "I do have a plan," he states. "I'm going into bodybuilding, and eventually become governor of the state of California." Barker's bright smile, laughter and wit are what endeared him to audiences through the years and he still has it all.
Barker philosophizes that "game show hosts are like pie. Some people like strawberry. Some like cherry pie. Some like chocolate. If you look at the successful hosts over the years, they're as different as all of us are. They work differently. They look differently. And in my case one thing at which I excel is listening. I listen to what the person I'm talking with is saying. I listen to what the contestant says." This is an attribute that endears Bob to the public and a lesson from which we can all learn. How many times have you thought that the person to which you are speaking is not really listening to you? Well, with Bob Barker, you can be sure he is listening to every word you are saying.
After doing this for so long, how does this man keep up his enthusiasm and energy? "Had I not enjoyed it so much, I probably would have retired a long time ago. ...I eat properly, and I exercise. I'm a vegetarian." His love and concern for animals has been a big part of his life. "I became a vegetarian out of concern for animals, but I wasn't a vegetarian long before I realized there's something to that. I don't think I would have worked for the past five years probably were it not for my vegetarian diet."
Besides his work on TV, Barker has long been an advocate for animals - our furry little friends who cannot speak for themselves. He started the DJ&T Foundation, named after his late wife and mother. "The DJ&T Foundation subsidized spay/neuters all over the United States," he explains. "We make grants to clinics, spay/neuter clinics, and these grants can be used to purchase equipment for the clinics, or we've paved parking lots for the clinics." It's obvious he's extremely proud of the foundation. "In Hawaii we bought awnings for the clinics. But that is one type of grant. The other type is actually a voucher provided by a local organization. It can be a humane society, an SPCA, whatever. And this voucher will be presented to people who cannot afford to pay for the surgery themselves. They will take it to a veterinarian. The veterinarian performs the surgery [and] bills that local organization. They send their invoices to us, and we pay for their spay/neuters." As he explains about the foundation, he is excited. The DJ&T Foundation is going to be his main focus from now on.
However Barker's interest in animals goes deeper than just his spay/neuter campaign. "I'm working right now with a group to get Ruby, an elephant in the Los Angeles Zoo, out of the zoo and get her up to a sanctuary near Sacramento." And he's "working with another group to get an elephant named Maggie out of the Anchorage Zoo and get her into a sanctuary." There's no doubt his love for animals runs deep. "To put it mildly," he says, "I'm busy, so far as animals are concerned. And I will be busier."
At the time of this writing, there is a special program slated for May to celebrate Bob's 50 years and the show's 35 years on television. According to Barker, "It's the biggest 'Price of Right' special that we've ever done." Bob Barker is scheduled to tape his last show the beginning of June which will air later in the month. Reruns of his shows will play throughout the summer and his replacement will take over in the fall for the new season.
Barker declares, "This is an appropriate time for me to retire. It's not just that I want to retire while I'm young. It marks the 50th anniversary of my time on television. Half a century. And it marks my 35th year of The Price Is Right. And we're way up there in the ratings, right on top," he proudly says. "I want to go out on top." And indeed he is on top.
The Price Is Right airs daily on CBS.
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