The Price is Right’s recent 40th anniversary special featured plenty of familiar faces and old contestants, but there was one person who was conspicuously absent: Bob Barker. The show’s old host – and we do mean “old” – was not invited, leaving many fans to wonder what he had done to earn the network’s disdain.
Barker has admitted that the move left him puzzled, but not entirely irate. “They chose to ignore me, which is fine,” he told The Washington Post. “But when you celebrate a 40th anniversary, you would think you’d have the fellow who did the show for 35 years there.” We dug deep into Barker’s personal and professional history to examine the top five reasons he wasn’t asked to “come on down.”
He’s an embarrassment
Barker would end every episode of The Price is Right by encouraging viewers to have their pets spayed or neutered, but the irony of his signature sign-off is that he was the one who needed to be fixed. A notorious womanizer, he repeatedly got in trouble over the years for pawing his showcase models and female production assistants. Barker first landed in hot water in 1994 when model Dian Parkinson charged him with sexual harassment. She eventually dropped her lawsuit due to severe emotional stress, but she was soon followed by PAs Sherrill Paris and Sharon Friem. Both women sued Barker for wrongful termination, sexual harassment and sex discrimination and were ultimately hushed with generous financial settlements. Barker’s money helped prevent the sordid details from seeing the light of day, but they still left an indelible mark upon his character.
He’s been critical of the show
Barker believes he wasn’t invited to participate in the special because he has criticized producers for giving away prizes to Sea World and the Calgary Stampede. “I am ashamed of the show and surprised at their complete disregard for the welfare of animals,” he recently told TV Guide. “Were I still there, a prize to attend the Calgary Stampede would never have been considered. We never did anything that condoned animal cruelty. Apparently, things have changed.” A longtime animal activist, Barker has donated generously to animal rights causes over the years and even helped finance a $5 million anti-whaling ship in 2009.
He’s been critical of Drew Carey
Virtually everyone on the planet likes Drew Carey. Everyone, that is, except for the man he replaced. Barker went on the offensive against Carey in 2010, criticizing his laissez-faire approach in an impromptu interview with TMZ. “He does the show differently than I did,” Barker said dismissively. “I tried to make the show really exciting, and he doesn’t do that. He just plays the games.”
He’s super creepy
Television is a haven for beautiful people, not for 88-year-old men who look like the spawn of Steve Martin and Skeletor. Sure, Bob Barker may have been attractive back in his heyday, but that was also when America still had only 13 states. Like it or not, no one wants to see someone who looks like he’s just crawled out of his own grave.
The format wasn’t appropriate
Drew Carey went out of his way to clear the air following Barker’s omission, insisting the snub wasn’t mean-spirited. “It wasn’t because of animosity or anything like that … nobody has anything against him,” he told TMZ. “It just didn’t occur to anybody to invite him personally to be on the show because it was a salute to contestants. Everybody loves Bob Barker.” Still, one has to wonder why they would go out of their way to fly in a contestant who appeared on the show once in 1976, while not even bothering to call the man who hosted the program for 35 years and helped it to win 20 Daytime Emmys.