Dec. 12 marks the 90th birthday of Bob Barker, the celebrated former television host of the "Price is Right" and longtime supporter of animal rights and animal activism. While there's plenty to love about Barker, here are our top five favorite reasons:
1. After his wife passed away, he took up animal activism to keep alive something she had loved
While Barker became a vegetarian and started promoting animal rights in 1979, he did not seriously take up the cause until his beloved wife Dorothy Jo passed away from lung cancer in 1981. In honor of "the love of his life," he threw himself into backing initiatives she would have pursued, such as the spaying and neutering of pets. Since retiring from the "Price is Right" in 2007, he's given away millions to animal organizations, including $5 million to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, $2.5 million to PETA for new offices in Los Angeles, and $1 million to transfer three elephants from the Toronto Zoo to a sanctuary in California.
Said Barker in a recent interview: "Any time an animal can be helped anywhere in any way, it pleases me. I’ve had a wonderful life doing something I thoroughly enjoy on TV and being well-paid for it, but rather than just writing a will and leaving money to be distributed after my death, I decided to start giving it away. I would recommend that to other people; give your money away while you’re still alive."
2. He has a black belt in karate and trained under Chuck Norris
As Adam Sandler found out in "Happy Gilmore," you do not want to get Bob Barker angry. Believe it or not, the guy has a black belt in karate and actually trained under Norris and his brother Aaron. After suffering a health scare back in 1999, Barker quipped that his training with Norris may have played a role. "Maybe I should blame it on Chuck Norris. He probably kicked me in the neck. God knows he kicked me everywhere else.” In his autobiography "Priceless Memories," Barker says his sparring with Norris once resulted in four cracked ribs.
Oh yeah, and he also once karate chopped Craig Ferguson's desk in half.
Back in 2012, Lynn Cuny, founder of the animal charity Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation (WRR) in Texas desperately needed funding for a $5,000 avian ventilator. Would Barker be interested in helping? His response: How about $250,000 instead?
“Mr. Barker placed a personal phone call to Lynn during which he mentioned that he had done a little research and found nothing but praise for our organization and our work with animals,” the org’s Facebook page shared. “He then said he was sending $250,000 to support the purchase of the ventilator as well as many other things he knows we need for all the animals we rescue.”
Bob Barker, national treasure.
5. He's a gentleman - and smartly so
From a 2010 interview with Entertainment Weekly:
"I would not criticize Drew Carey. I would not criticize this show. I would not criticize CBS. I would not criticize FremantleMedia (which produces the show for the network) because I have a sizable royalty that I am paid every year this show is on, and it's going on for years. I would be an absolute fool. I hope this show stays on for years. As for Drew, he’s been charming and complimentary, and he had me on the show to plug my book Priceless Memories. He devoted half of the show to me! He's a charming man, and kind and gracious. To think that I would say anything derogatory about him is idiocy."
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