The glitz. The glamour. The gimmicks. Few television game shows are as instantly recognizable as The Price Is Right.
For decades, Bob Barker welcomed guests onto the show, inviting them to “come on down” for a chance to win cash and fabulous prizes. The TV legend made his debut on Sept. 4, 1972, however he wasn’t the first man to host The Price Is Right.
The Original ‘Price is Right’
The Price is Right debuted on Nov. 26, 1956, as part of NBC’s daytime lineup. The original host was Bill Cullen, a former radio personality who also helmed such popular game shows as Name That Tune and To Tell the Truth.
With its unique gameplay style, in which contestants placed their bids on retail items, The Price Is Right became a hit. NBC began airing a weekly primetime version of the show and continued to do so until the series was picked up by ABC in 1963. The Price Is Right called ABC home for two seasons, airing its final episode on Sept. 3, 1965.
Watch a Clip From the Original ‘The Price Is Right’
The New ‘Price is Right’
The team at production company Goodson-Todman sought to bring The Price Is Right back to the airwaves in the early ’70s, however, they faced a challenge — newer shows like Let’s Make a Deal had cornered the market on the bid-or-pass format.
To update the program, The Price Is Right‘s producers created dazzling sets perfect for Technicolor and switched up the formatting of the show’s contests, making it less of a quiz show to a high-energy game show. Smithsonian Magazine notes that the new version of The Price Is Right “felt like a Las Vegas revue—especially once the gorgeous models started to appear, thrilled to show off the prizes and crack wise with the show’s host.”
When Did Bob Barker Join ‘The Price Is Right’?
A producers prepared to bring The Price Is Right back to television, they mulled their options for a host. Cullen, the show’s original presenter, was hesitant to move to the West Coast. Goodson-Todman initially tapped Let’s Make a Deal‘s Dennis James to step behind the mic for The Price is Right‘s revamped run, however when a syndicated daytime version of the series was ordered by CBS, the network suggested someone new.
Bob Barker had already made a name for himself in showbiz, hosting the popular “Bob Barker Radio Show” for Los Angeles radio station KWIK before stepping behind the camera as the host of Truth or Consequences in 1956. Barker had CBS’ blessing to become the host of The Price is Right and on Sept. 4, 1972 television history was made when the first episode of the game show aired.
Watch a Clip From Bob Barker’s First Episode on ‘The Price Is Right’
Bob Barker’s Lasting Legacy
Barker would go on to host The Price is Right until his retirement in 2007, an incredible run which lasted for 35 seasons. During his tenure, The Price is Right became an institution and one of the most beloved game shows in television history. Barker was a 14-time winner of the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host, took home an additional four Daytime Emmys as one of The Price Is Right’s producers and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Television Academy in 1999.
The show’s famous Hollywood location was renamed the Bob Barker Studio in 1998 in honor of the famous host’s 5,000th show. Comedian Drew Carey assumed hosting duties following Barker’s retirement. The Price Is Right continued to be filmed in the Bob Barker Studio until 2023, when it moved to a new, modern location.
Barker passed away Aug. 26. He was 99 years old.
Watch Bob Barker Discuss His Career on ‘The Price Is Right’