He face is known to tens of millions of people, but television game show host Bob Barker is only now officially famous as far as Missouri is concerned.
A bronze bust of Barker has been added to the Hall of Famous Missourians at the Capitol. It was unveiled yesterday in front of one of the largest crowds ever to celebrate the addition of a new person to the Hall. Barker is the fourth living person to have a bust among the three dozen famous Missourians already enshrined. The other three are Walter Cronkite, Stan Musial, and John Ashcroft.
Fans of Barker and his television show, "The Price is Right," created a standing-room only crowd on the first floor of the Capitol rotunda, with others standing along the railings on the second and third floors.
Barker, 83, entertained the crowd with well-used one liners, once saying he hoped sculptor Sabra Tull Meyer had created an image that showed him a half-century younger than his 83 years. Meyer says she used numerous photographs to create a bust that shows Barker in his mid-60s. Shed had not met Barker until meeting him at the Capitol just before the ceremony.
Barker is not a Missouri native. But many of those in the Hall, including Musial and Ashcroft, are not Missouri natives either. Barker and his family moved to Springfield when he was young. He graduated from Springfield Central High School in 1941. After serving in World War II as a Naval Aviator, he returned to Springfield and graduated summa cum laude from then-Drury College in 1947. Barker began his broadcasting career as a radio broadcaster in Springfield before moving into television. He was the host of the television version of TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES for almost twenty years before moving to a new program, THE PRICE IS RIGHT, on September 4, 1972. In 1994, the program became the longest-running game show in history. Barker retired June 1 as the television personality who had hosted a daily show longer than any person in TV history.
He has appeared in one movie: Happy Gilmore, where he won an MTV "best fight" award for his fight with the movie’s headline star, Adam Sandler.
Barker continues to be a leader in tne animal welfare movement. He used to end each of his shows by urging viewers to have their pets spayed and neutered.
In the audio excerpt from the ceremony, you will hear from Speaker of the House Rod Jetton, who chooses the people to be honored by placement in the Hall and finances creation of the bust through proceeds from a special golf tournament and other donations, and from Barker. Off-mike you will hear both men comment after the bust is unveiled and at the end you will hear a brief Q&A between Barker and some reporters. The first question is a pip.