Bob Barker, Come on down!
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Bob Barker, Come on down!

Date: September 12, 2007
By: Sarah D. Wire
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The price was right for Bob Barker Wednesday as it was his turn to come on down as he was inducted into the hall of famous Missourians at the State Capitol.

In a building filled with serious business, the unveiling of a bust of Barker was a bit of fun. Crowds lined the tiers of the capitol rotunda and the Jefferson City High School band played the well-known theme song that many associate with Barker's tenure on the Price is Right. 

Before the unveiling Barker, sporting his trade marked tan, peeked under the sheet and said he hoped the bust would look 15 years younger than he is now.

"I'm hoping that I'm cute," Barker said.

After pulling back the sheet, Barker kissed the sculptor's cheek and then placed a kiss on the statue.

"I think it's fine, it looks like me, very much like me," Barker said. "I'm delighted, I'm truly delighted."

House Speaker Rod Jetton chose Barker to be the next famous Missourian to have a bronze bust cast and placed on the third level of the capitol building.

Barker, 83, was host and executive producer of the popular day-time show The Price is Right for 35 years before retiring in 2007. The Price is Right is currently the longest running game show in television history. 

"I said we've got to make this guy a famous Missourian," Jetton said. "There's nobody more famous I know than Bob Barker."

Jetton said he used to watch The Price is Right as a child and always wished his mother would be a contestant.

"If anyone could win, my mom could win the Price is Right," Jetton said.

While the show is a jem it would "never have achieved icon status without Barker," Jetton said.

"He was always smooth, he was always friendly," he said. "He must have a pact with the devil because he doesn't look like he's aged any."

After the unveiling, a crowd of fans swarmed to Barker, insisting on autographs and hugs and telling stories of the role his show took in their lives. 

Barker said The Price is Right never strove to solve world problems.

"We deliberately avoided them, and what we tried to accomplish is to help people forget their troubles for an hour and enjoy themselves," Barker said. "And I hope that's what we have done."

Jetton said although the show was entertaining, the audience always knew Barker's main concern was his love of animals. 

Barker's long-time catch phrase, "help control the pet population; have your pet spayed or neutered," is written on the plaque below the bust.

Jetton said his teenage daughter parroted the phrase to him Wednesday morning when he mentioned Barker's unveiling and he was surprised and pleased that it had impacted her.

"You have got the message going, even to a teenager in this day and age," Jetton said.

Barker spent the day at the capitol speaking with legislators and said the one question everyone asked was how it felt to beat up Adam Sandler in the 1996 film Happy Gilmore.

"I haven't discussed anything serious with the law makers at all," Barker said with a laugh. "All I've discussed is The Price is Right and Happy Gilmore."

The film was Barker's first big screen appearance despite spending 50 years in the industry.

Barker joked that he had planned to do Happy Gilmore II after retiring in June but Sandler's doctor said the actor's body couldn't stand another beating by Barker.

Barker was born in Darrington, WA and his family eventually moved to Springfield, MO where he attended high school and went to Drury University. He worked at a radio station in Springfield to finance his education at Drury where he graduated summa cum laude with a degree in economics.

In May 2007, Barker was granted an honorary doctorate from Drury University.

Barker has won 17 Emmy Awards.