This was news I have long-been expecting, yet it still managed to catch me completely off guard: Bob Barker has announced that he will retire in June at the end of the current season of The Price is Right.
Even though the show will go on without Barker, daytime television will never be quite the same.
“I will be 83 years old on December 12, and I’ve decided to retire while I’m still young,” Barker quipped. He then acknowledged that he had been pondering retirement off and on for ten years or more, but kept on with the show because he has genuinely loved his job. Still, the job is taxing mentally and physically, and he now says the time is right.
It’s also a good time to step down, he says, because he will have reached two major milestones: besides wrapping 35 years of his game show, the longest-running on television, this December he will celebrate his 50th anniversary on network television. On December 31, 1956, the late Ralph Edwards put Barker on the air as host of Truth or Consequences, a job he would hold until 1974.
It may sound ridiculous, but this news makes me sad. It’s sad in an “end of an era” kind of way, like Johnny Carson’s retirement or Mike Wallace’s semi-retirement. I’ve been watching The Price is Right since I was two years old. I’ve never really known what television was like without Bob Barker. It’s another reminder that I’m getting older, and I don’t need a reminder of that, thank you.
If you haven’t seen the show in a while, there’s no better time to set your VCR for a while. It is still very much the show you remember from your childhood, which is probably a good reason that so many college kids today schedule classes around it: it’s a sort of comfort zone. And don’t we all need that every once and a while?