Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a game show fan, especially you, my readers, knows that I might be belated, but I want to be among those to wish a Happy Birthday to the Worlds Greatest Master of Ceremonies or WGMC, Bob Barker, who turned 96 years old on December 12th.
When it comes to game shows, the hallowed Goodson-Todman creation known as The Price is Right stands above and beyond the best of the best. All other game shows and hosts all can look to TPiR for the renaissance to the genre. To give a comparison to other game shows, Price, as we know it now, began in September 1972, with the legendary Bob Barker, but began in 1956 on NBC and later ABC under the direction of the “Dean of Game Shows” the late Bill Cullen.
By comparision, Jeopardy!, a reversed quiz show created by the late Merv Griffin (for reasons I’ll get into late in this post) was born in 1964 on NBC and later had its current run begin in 1984, hosted by Art Fleming and Alex Trebek, respectively.
The thing to note here is that, if one looks at the timeframe, the 1960s were a really bad time for game shows, still reeling from the Quiz Show Scandals of a decade earlier. Goodson-Todman had built up a reputation of being very clean in their dealings, so they went relatively unscathed. Griffin had a dealing with G-T with short lived show Play Your Hunch as well as Cullen’s TPiR. but he would get inspiration from the scandals thanks to his wife, as he explained in an interview:
My wife Julann just came up with the idea one day when we were in a plane bringing us back to New York from Duluth. I was mulling over game show ideas, when she noted that there had not been a successful ‘question and answer’ game on the air since the quiz show scandals. Why not do a switch, and give the answers to the contestant and let them come up with the question.
She fired a couple of answers to me: ‘5,280’ and the question of course was how many feet in a mile. Another was ’79 Wistful Vista.’ That was Fibber and Mollie McGee’s address. I loved the idea, went straight to NBC with the idea, and they bought it without even looking at a pilot show.
And the rest is game show history. But I digress…
Bob Barker stood for something in his animal activism and it showed in his trademark show The Price is Right, but his game show career shined in Truth and Consequences in his demeanor and his ability to make the contestants the stars of the show, not him. I have a first hand experience about that, as I was at one of his final shows on TPiR before he retired in 2007 (along with my older brother, Bill and it was a magical experience to be at the Bob Barker Studio (which, by the way, is located at 7800 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036, okay Bob! Thank you Rod Roddy, God rest your soul!)
At the end of the show, near the Final Showcases, he asked for people to “Oooooh” and “Ahhh” at the prizes to be shown, at one point, he asks for me, and I gave it my all…saying “Oooooh yeah!” much like the late “Macho Man” Randy Savage, I was told to do it again, but I was SO embarrassed by my performance that I couldn’t, I was frozen by fear, but nonetheless, it was indeed a magical experience that I will never forget.
I write this to say Happy Belated Birthday to the WGMC, the Legendary Bob Barker, thank you for all you’ve done for us, helping us care for each other and laugh with each other and helping us all…
Shine On!!! And get your pets spayed or neutered!!