The iconic and beloved Bob Barker hosted the Price is Right from 1972 to 2007. And not long after the show began, he started ending each show with the line, “This is Bob Barker reminding you to help control the pet population, have your pets spayed and neutered.” The line was inspired by a lifetime of loving animals and his beloved wife, Dorothy Jo Gideon.
Since there weren’t enough homes for all the cats and dogs in the United States,” he said, “The only solution is to have your pet spayed or neutered. That’s what I ask people to do.”
The King of Spay and Neuter
After his long career and 19 Emmy awards, he joked that he had become “The Guru of Spay and Neuter,” which he loved. As we know, spaying and neutering is the most effective way to prevent suffering for millions of animals annually.
Initially, when he started ending the show with his now-famous line, it surprised producers.
“Well, I kind of sneaked up on them,” Barker said in an interview with the Television Academy Foundation. “I did it. And then I started doing it a little oftener, a little more often, and a little more often. Pretty soon, I’m doing it every day,, and nobody said anything. That’s not controversial.”
After he retired at 83, Drew Carey took up ending the show with the by-then traditional reminder.
Sadly, Barker passed away at 99 at his home in the Hollywood Hills.
“Bob Barker was a very special creation. He loved every human being he ever met and loved every animal being even more. He will be missed by all who knew him,” said Barker’s “High Rollers” co-host Ruta Lee.
Video by CBS Mornings about Bob Barker’s contributions to save animals.
Bob Barker’s Lifetime of Service to Helping Animals
Daily, Barker brought joy to millions on the daytime game show, But, he is equally remembered for being a champion for animals.
In 2013, Barker made a surprise visit to the show. The same year, he donated $1 million to move three elephants to a sanctuary in California and he received a Lord Houghton Award from Animal Defenders International. The award was partly for enabling their “Operation Lion Ark” that saved lions kept in circuses.
The Biggest Lion Rescue in the World
Below, Barker appears with ADI president Jan Creamer as they talk about flying 25 lions from Bolivia to Denver International Airport. From there, the lions traveled to a sanctuary in Colorado. As the lions were carefully unloaded, Barker used his game show voice to announce “Come on down!”
It was the “biggest lion rescue in the world,” at the time.
“They’re living the life that nature intended for them to live,” said Barker.
Video by DenversAirport:
Crusading to Help Whales and Elephants
Over a lifetime, Barker crusaded for all kinds of animals, including whales. For example, a Sea Shepherd boat named Bob Barker defended whales for 13 years, retiring due to age this year. Amazingly, he donated millions to stop whaling ships in Japan.
In 2011, Barker spoke before Congress to support a federal ban on elephants exploited in traveling shows or for rides.
He also spoke out against visiting SeaWorld and keeping orcas and dolphins in captivity. Instead, he argued that the animals deserved to be free with their families in the ocean.
Video by Animal Defenders International about Bob Barker speaking before Congress:
Why Bob Barker Rejected Fur Coats
Always, Bob Barker was resolute and passionate about helping animals. For example, he refused to host the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants in 1988 when they initially wanted to wear fur coats over swimwear. After he refused to be associated, they wore fake fur instead.
The host’s stance on fur started when the first prize on the Price is Right was a fur coat. Afterward, he demanded the producers stop giving away furs, and they did. His attitude about fur was informed by his wife when she refused to wear a leather coat he gave her.
“I went to Mark Goodson and told him I didn’t want to be on the stage with these fur coats,” Barker told CBS This Morning in 2013, referring to the show’s producer. “So he took fur coats off our show.”
As a result of his anti-fur stance, he said he became “the whipping boy of the fur industry,” but he ignored their criticism.
Video by FoundationInterviews:
A Long-time Vegetarian
Perhaps, his longevity can be partly attributed to his vegetarian diet. Barker was a vegetarian for over 45 years, preceded by his wife, who passed away in 1981. In honor of his wife and mother, Barker founded the DJ&T Foundation in 1995. The foundation finances spay and neuter clinics.
“I became a vegetarian out of concern for animals, and I was a vegetarian for a very long time before I realized that many people become vegetarians out of concern for their health. I think they are absolutely right. I think it is the healthiest way to live,” Barker told Vegetarian Times.
Bob Barker Inspired Countless Rescuers
For many people, hearing Barker talk about spaying and neutering was the first time they became aware of why it’s so important. For example, one of those people was Jackson Galaxy. At seven years old, Galaxy watched Barker deliver the line, which prompted a conversation that transformed his life, which he shared on Facebook.
Galaxy met Barker at a fundraiser while he was in his 80s, starstruck by the man who changed his life.
“There haven’t been many times that I’ve found myself starstruck and tongue-tied, but saying hi to Bob Barker reduced me to that 7-year-old in front of the TV. I wanted to tell him that those few sentences, said day in and day out at the end of his show, changed the course of my life,” he shared.
Likewise, Alabama animal advocate and TNR rescuer Calvin Tucker shared what Barker meant to him.
“Rest in peace, Bob Barker. [The] first person I ever heard say spay and neuter your pets,” he shared.
In another post, he shared what a role model Barker was:
“A visionary way ahead of his time who donated millions of his own money to help the animals. I don’t want to be like Mike. I want to be like BOB. Rest easy, my guy,” shared Tucker, who goes by Black Noah, on Instagram.
Video by Slate about Bob Barker’s quest to get your pet spayed or neutered:
Bob Barker and Betty White
Bob Barker’s last appearance on The Price is Right was in 2015 for an April Fool’s Day gag. At that time, he promised to return when he turned 100, but like fellow animal rights legend Betty White, he left us too soon at 99.
Perhaps, on what would have been his birthday, December 12, there could be a Bob Barker Challenge similar to the Betty White Challenge on January 17.
Over their lifetimes, Barker and White each staunchly defended animals. In 2015, they both spoke out for Cecil the Lion. A Minnesota dentist may have spent as much as $54,000 to bow-hunt the 13-year-old lion in a Zimbabwe park.
As you can see below, White and Barker were furious about what happened to Cecil. As a result of the global outcry, some countries changed their trophy-hunting laws. And, the US added new protections for lions under the Endangered Species Act. The changes prevented trophy hunters from bringing their cruel prizes home. However, there was a loophole that they could if the hunt fees supported lion conservation. Nevertheless, over 40 airlines banned the transport of lion trophies.
Did Bob Barker change your life when it comes to animals, spaying and neutering? Let us know in the comments!
Video by Entertainment Tonight about Barker, White, and Cecil: