For Barker, the price was always right

By Andrew Mason

I have seen the American dream. It is not the two and a half children in a suburban house with white picket fences. It is not going from a one-room house to a mahogany desk in downtown Manhattan. And it is most certainly not being elected to Congress. The American dream is Bob Barker.

We know him from “The Price is Right” that has graced television screens for more than 50 years. He took over the show in 1972 and has never looked back. This man has led a life full of accomplishments that elevate him to a higher status than even the man who trained him to be a black belt, Chuck Norris. Yeah, I said it.

He went to college on a cheerleading scholarship, and he fought as a Navy fighter pilot in World War II. He was in a jazz band in high school where he met and married his sweetheart. He went out to California for a radio job and landed his first gig as a host of “Truth or Consequences,” which led for 18 years before “The Price is Right.” His show hasn’t been beaten in the ratings in 30 years. The man has won 17 Emmys. Seventeen. Oh, and he also appeared with Adam Sandler in “Happy Gilmore.”

He’s an animal rights activist that pulled out of his 20-year gig hosting the Miss USA pageant because they wouldn’t stop offering fur prizes and gives millions every year to humane societies and animal preserves. That’s how its done, take notes PETA.

Man, what a show. I remember praying every morning that they would get to play Plinko. After Rod Roddy (God rest his soul) announced the lucky person to come on down that sacred aisle, the studio erupted like a Christian revival service. They came from far and wide from all 50 states and dozens of countries in their custom t-shirts and military uniforms and college sweatshirts. Only a few of them got the chance to win the prizes but they came anyway just to be in the presence of a demi-god.

Bob lived the dream everyday. He is the personification of that saying “I keep getting older, but they stay the same age.” He’s surrounded by beautiful women that model the prizes and adored by people in the audience that can only bask in his glory. He lives in Southern California and doesn’t look a day over 60. I’d kill for a tan like his. He gives away dinette sets, cruises and the best part of every show: “A brand new car!”

And on top of all that, he taught generations of Americans how to shop smart. He was eBay before eBay.

But recently, Barker announced that he’s going to retire next June. It hit me like a load of bricks too. The man is an American institution. He was one of the true constants of Americana. Every weekday morning he was there for us when we stayed home sick. He was there when we cut class. Bob didn’t judge. Bob cared about you and tried his best to entertain.

There has been talk of replacing Barker next summer. Blasphemy, I say. One does not simply “replace” Bob. He is “The Price is Right.” It isn’t an official position, it’s a state of being. Anybody foolish enough to try to take his place will be rejected. Nobody appeals to young and old like Barker. Any attempt to redo the show will not only fail, but will tarnish his legacy. If CBS is still interested in the ratings, it has over 6,000 episodes to rerun.

He should be allowed to live on forever in the American soul like Fred Rogers, like Lucille Ball, like Johnny Carson. I swear if some tool like Ryan Seacrest or Carson Daly takes over the show, somebody’s gonna lose an eye.

As he takes his final spin of the wheel and heads for his last Showcase Showdown, I wish him luck and a happy retirement in his new RV and 8-in-1 game table. He deserves it.

And remember: Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.