SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Bob Barker, the former host of “The Price is Right” for over 30 years and former South Dakota resident, passed away on Saturday and South Dakota is keeping his memory alive.
“The South Dakota Hall of Fame is proud and honored to have recognized Bob Barker in the Hall of Fame,” South Dakota Hall of Fame CEO Laurie Becvar said. “His life and his legacy will forever live in our state.”
Bob Barker was born in Darrington, WA, but spent most of his youth on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in Mission, SD. His mother, Matilda Tarleton Barker, was a schoolteacher, County Superintendent of Schools for Todd County and wrote a history of the state “Our State” for South Dakota sixth graders.
His father, Byron John Barker, was an electrical power foreman who died in a fall from a utility pole in 1929.
His mother remarried to Louis Valandra in 1937.
He attended Drury College near Springfield, MO on a basketball scholarship. When the United States entered World War II after the Japanese attack on Perl Harbor, he left college to enlist in the U.S. Navy as an aviator.
After graduating from college, he started his own radio show, “The Bob Barker Show,” before hosting “Truth or Consequences” for 18 years from 1956 to 1975.
He was officially inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame in 1980, after hosting the longest-running American game show, “The Price is Right,” for 35 years from 1972 to 2007.
“Our board recognized his significant achievements and the impact he had on his community,” South Dakota Hall of Fame CEO Laurie Becvar said.
Throughout his years as a television host, Barker received 17 Emmy Awards for hosting and producing, as well as the Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award for Daytime Television in 2004. He was also named in the Guinness Book of World Records as television’s “Most Durable Performer” for his 3,524 consecutive appearances on ‘Truth or Consequences.”
One of the most historic sites in the history of television, Stage 33 at CBS Television City in Los Angeles, was re-dedicated as the Bob Barker Studio in ceremonies following the taping of the 5,000th episode of ” The Price Is Right” in March of 1998. Barker is the first performer to whom CBS has ever dedicated a stage.
Becvar cited Barker’s philanthropy and animal rights activism as a part of the reason he was inducted over 40 years ago. He was named as the “Most Generous Host in Television History” by the Guinness Book of World Records for awarding over $55 million in prizes on his shows.
The funeral service will be private, Becvar said. Barker will be laid to rest next to his wife, Dorothy Jo Gideon, at the Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetery in Hollywood Hills. Becvar said the South Dakota Hall of Fame tries to recognize inductees after their passing in some way, and will be planning something in honor of Barker soon.
Barker will also be featured as one of the nine “Famous South Dakotans” for the 2024 Mitchell Corn Palace murals. Corn Palace Executive Director Doug Greenway told KELO they chose Barker because of his South Dakota roots and how recognizable he is with the iconic “Price is Right” wheel.
“The big wheel is going to be on the corner of the Corn Palace and everyone is going to know Bob Barker and that “Price is Right” wheel,” Greenway said.
Mesa Bartmann, a senior graphic design major at Dakota Wesleyan University, helped design the Barker corn mural and decided to include the wheel in her design.
“When I think of Bob Barker and the ‘Price is Right,’ I instantly think of the wheel so I knew I wanted to include it,” Bartmann said.
According to reporting in KELO, when she was given the list of potential famous South Dakotans, Bartmann said Barker’s name stood out to her and her parents encouraged her to submit a mural design for the then-alive entertainer.
“A lot of the names on the list, I hadn’t really heard of most of them, but I instantly knew Bob Barker and knew I wanted to draw him,” she said.
The Barker mural, along with the eight other famous South Dakotans, will start to go up on the Corn Palace in mid-September and should be completed by Thanksgiving. Greenway said that after the Corn Palace staff heard of Barker’s passing this weekend, they began considering adding a “1923-2023” sign to Barker’s mural commemorating his death.
“People are gonna say, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s the guy from “Price is Right,” I didn’t know he was from South Dakota,’” Greenway said. “He brought a lot of joy to the world.”