Bob Barker, the iconic host of “The Price is Right,” once said during an interview that he wanted to be remembered for trying to make the world a kinder place for animals.
“I would like to have them remember me as a man who loved all living things and did all he could during his life to make ours a better world for animals, and at the same time did a lot of television shows,” he said.
Barker died on Aug. 26 at age 99 in his home of natural causes — and animal advocates everywhere are honoring his legacy for animals.
The TV show host — who earned 19 Emmy awards, including 14 for outstanding game show host on “The Price is Right” — is perhaps most well known regarding his work for animals from his signature sign off: “Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed and neutered.”
But during his lifetime, Barker also spoke up for whales, furbearers, and animals exploited in entertainment.
In the 1980s, he started supporting the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), which originally rescued performing animals but now also rescues captive wildlife. PAWS Co-founder Ed Stewart told CBS News that he addressed Barker’s annual Christmas card to “The Most Important Animal Rights Advocate of All Time.”
Barker personified compassion, with a “profound commitment to making the world a kinder place,” said Ingrid Newkirk, president and founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
“To us, and to so many animals around the world, Bob will always be a national animal rights treasure,” Newkirk said in a statement.
Barker refused to allow fur prizes on “The Price is Right,” was one of the first TV stars to go vegetarian, urged fans to stay away from SeaWorld, and advocated for the closure of cruel bear pits, the protection of animals used in film and TV, and an end to military medical drills on live animals, PETA said. Barker also donated $2.5 million in 2010 to help PETA open a building in their Echo Park location, which they’ve named the Bob Barker Building.
The nonprofit is urging the Los Angeles City Council to rename a portion of Sunset Boulevard near that building as the Bob Barker Boulevard, with hopes the sign will inspire people to “make kind choices every day, just as Bob did,” according to the statement.
“An honorary ‘Bob Barker Boulevard’ would be a fitting tribute for the television icon who never hesitated to help when animals were in trouble,” Newkirk said.
Barker also donated $5 million to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society for a 1,200 ton ship, now named The Bob Barker, that is used in their mission to crack down on illegal whaling. He met Sea Shepherd Founder Paul Watson through another animal activist.
“He said he thought he could put the Japanese whaling fleet out of business if he had $5 million,” Barker told The Los Angeles Times in 2010. “I said, ‘I think you do have the skills to do that, and I have $5 million, so let’s get it on,’ so that’s what we did.”
The celebrity host also started an organization called the DJ&T Foundation, in memory of his wife and mother, to provide funding for free or low cost spay and neutering, to which he donated more than $25 million over his lifetime, according to news. He also supported at least 15 charities devoted to animal welfare, including Orca Network, Save the Chimps, The Humane Society, Mercy for Animals, and Cruelty Free International.
Barker also reportedly stopped dying his hair after learning the dye he was using had been tested on animals, according to news.
Otherwise, Barker also served as a naval aviator in World War II, a radio host, the host of “Truth or Consequences” for 18 years, and as himself in the feature film Happy Gilmore with Adam Sandler. He was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 2004.
He was married to Dorothy Jo Gideon for 36 years until her death from lung cancer. Two years later, he entered into a long-time relationship with Nancy Burnet, the president of the United Activists for Animal Rights.
“I am so proud of the trail-blazing work Barker and I did together to expose the cruelty to animals in the entertainment industry, including working to improve the plight of abused and exploited animals in the US and internationally,” Burnet told news.
Lady Freethinker honors Barker for speaking up for animals and championing their right to live free from exploitation and abuse. In the words of Drew Carey, the new host of “The Price is Right” during a send-off speech, “On behalf of all people and animals everywhere, thank you Bob Barker.”