Bob Barker is still living his best life at 99, having been in a lasting relationship with his girlfriend Nancy Burnet.
The host was once devastated by his wife’s death, vowing never to marry again after her.
However, at the age of 60, he found love again through Burnet and is now “happy” and “engaged.”Born Robert William Barker on December 12, 1923, in Darrington, Washington, Bob Barker would go on to be one of America’s most iconic game show hosts. He hosted “The Price Is Right” from 1972 to 2007, an amazing 35 years.
Initially, Barker had trained to become a US Navy fighter pilot amidst World War II. However, after graduating from Drury College in Springfield, Missouri, he switched paths and began a career in radio.
While working for a station in California, he was scouted by Ralph Edwards, the creator of “Truth or Consequences,” a popular TV game show wherein contestants had to perform stunts in case they answered trivia questions incorrectly.
Edwards asked Barker to host the show, and he began doing so in 1956. He was so relatable, and he quickly won the hearts of the show’s viewers. He was on the show for almost twenty years until 1975, alongside other short-lived game shows throughout that time.
In 1972, he was given hosting duties for “The Price Is Right,” a revival of its 1956 to 1965 run. Contestants were picked from the audience and asked to guess the prices of merchandise.
The show was a huge hit – it became the longest-running game show on American TV, and Barker was partly to thank for that. He hosted the show until his retirement in 2007 when he was replaced by Drew Carey.
Other than his game shows, Barker was also often asked to host the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants for a couple of years. He’s also appeared in several TV series, and in 1996, made his movie debut in “Happy Gilmore” alongside Adam Sandler.
Through it all, Barker has won 14 Emmy Awards for his work. In 1999, he received a lifetime achievement award.
When he announced his retirement on “The Price Is Right,” he said it was because he was going to be 83 years old that year. He stepped down in June 2007, claiming the effort it took for him to film episodes was getting too much to bear, saying:
“I’m just reaching the age where the constant effort to be there and do the show physically is a lot for me. I might be able to do the show another year, but better [to leave] a year too soon than a year too late.”
Admittedly, Barker wasn’t ready to leave the show when he did. He said that particular sentiment was the reason he had to go because he wanted to leave the fans wanting more.
One of the reasons why Barker didn’t want to leave was because of the cast and crew he worked with for over three decades. He would also miss the platform that allowed him to advocate for his causes, particularly the importance of spaying and neutering your pets.
A living legend, Barker was even inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame in 2004. However, it isn’t just his work as a TV host and presenter that makes him an honorable man.
Barker is an animal rights activist who garnered the respect of his fans for his contributions to the cause. In 1994, he ended each episode of “The Price Is Right” with a spiel about helping control the pet population.
He established the DJ&T Foundation which funded the sterilization of pets, and in 2009, after his retirement, he donated $5 million to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which is a group known for its anti-whaling efforts.
The money he donated was used to purchase a ship, and it was named after Barker. He talked about many of his work in his autobiography, “Priceless Memories,” which he released in 2009.
Years later, he came out of retirement to guest on “The Bold and The Beautiful,” a long-running soap opera. He played himself in the show, advocating for a local animal shelter with one of the show’s lead characters.
During the episode, he also recreated his scene from the 1996 film “Happy Gilmore,” particularly the one where his character attacks Adam Sandler’s character. It was still widely relevant to the show’s audience, especially since “Happy Gilmore” always aired on TV.
Barker’s inspiration for wanting to help animals was his late wife, Dorothy Jo Gideon. She was an animal activist who chose to be vegetarian and refused to wear anything made with animal skin or fur.
Remembering Dorothy Jo Gideon
Gideon passed away on October 19, 1981, after a quick battle with lung cancer. They spent more than four decades together, and she was the love of his life.
Ten years after her death, Barker vowed to never marry again. “I’ll never marry again. Dorothy Jo was the love of my life,” he said.
They first met when they were in high school. Barker was only 21 and Gideon 20 when they got married on January 12, 1945, and rather than white, Gideon wore a red dress. From that moment, they were inseparable.
Barker was only 15 when he first met Gideon. He had just moved to Springfield, Missouri when he encountered her for the first time.
While in high school, Barker asked Gideon to go with him to an Ella Fitzgerald concert. She said yes, and the concert became their first date.
Gideon was instrumental in Barker’s decision to become an animal rights activist. He proudly noted how his late wife stopped wearing fur coats before anybody else did and credited her for his decision to turn into a vegetarian.
“She fixed beautiful dishes that I ate. Gradually, I became a vegetarian, too. I owe it to her, and I thank her for it because I think it has really improved my life. I am a staunch believer in it,” he admitted.
While Barker worked in the radio and television, Gideon was his sidekick. She often sang radio talent show commercial jingles in Los Angeles.
Barker and Gideon never had children because they were both very busy. Ultimately, the TV host great didn’t regret his decision. Instead, they took care of animals at home.
Gideon’s death took a toll on Barker, who fell into a deep depression. For two to three years, he wasn’t himself and drowned himself in work to get by.
In 2017, Barker was photographed looking frail and lonely while visiting his late wife. It was her 36th death anniversary, and he made sure to sit by her grave and spend time with her for a while.
Although Barker vowed to never marry again, he had some notable flings and relationships after his wife’s passing. He was first linked to animal rights activist Nancy Burnet in 1983, and they remain together in the present time.
His Second Love Nancy Burnet
After meeting Burnet, Barker allowed himself to slowly love again. Like the TV show host, his chosen partner is the president of a nonprofit organization called “United Activists for Animal Rights,” which was founded in 1987.
They met at an animal adoption event that Barker hosted alongside actor Earl Holliman on March 27, 1983. At the time, Burnet wasn’t familiar with the work Barker had done.
However, after a friend of Burnet approached her and started talking about Barker’s advocacy regarding the spay-neuter movement. She approached him on a project she was working on and they easily connected over their shared interest in animal rights.
In 2000, the former host asked Burnet to take control of the DJ & T Foundation’s spay-neuter programs. She is also the foundation’s director.
For years, Burnet stood by Barker’s side. They eventually became a couple and held each other’s hand through life’s ups and downs.
In 2001, a special episode of “The Price Is Right” aired, and it became a memorable one for the couple. It was then that Barker unveiled the official USPS spay-neuter stamps, and Burnet made an appearance towards the end with their dogs, Winston and Panda.
Burnet’s favorite memories with Barker include all the times they’ve traveled together and the times they’ve fought for animal rights alongside one another. She recalled a particularly memorable experience in the Cayman Islands, where they protested a circus coming to town.
That was one of the places they didn’t feel welcome in, as well as a town in Hawaii where they got a campaign going for an injured pitbull who was being used for hunting pigs.
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More recently, the couple celebrated the opening of Donkeyland Wildlife Sanctuary in Southern California, which is meant to be a preserve for wild burros. Burnet called the sanctuary Barker’s “greatest living legacy.”
The DJ & T Foundation contributed money to fence off almost 500 acres of land so wild donkeys could remain protected while roaming their natural habitat freely. It had been a frequent occurrence that these donkeys were being hit by cars or being hunted, so having a safe place was important for them.
In 2017, Barker shocked his fans when he was rushed to the hospital for falling and hitting his head at home. His housekeeper drove him to the hospital where they ran a couple of tests on him to make sure he was okay.
After all the tests were cleared, he was released and sent home without any serious injuries. Months later, he was hospitalized once more, but for severe back pains.
An ambulance took Barker to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after complaining of back pain. He made a full recovery and was discharged shortly after.
On December 12, 2022, Barker turned 99. Burnet reflected on her longtime partner’s best moments and gave fans an update on how he was doing. She revealed:
“He’s doing pretty well. He’s happy, he’s engaged. He’s just doing remarkably well for almost 99 years of age.”
While Barnet admitted that Barker was sometimes forgetful, she said it “comes with the territory.” One thing the animal activist admires about her partner is his ability to keep a healthy diet through the years.
Barker, unlike many others his age, is strong and sturdy. He is set to ring in his centennial birthday this December, a great milestone meant to be celebrated.
Nowadays, Burnet shared that Barker keeps himself busy by reading books and has walls filled with them. He also watches TV, mostly shows that involve animals – the one thing he is most passionate about!
Ultimately, Barker has no regrets about the life he’s lived. More than “The Price Is Right,” the beloved show he dedicated most of his life to, which he still watches, he’s glad to have made a difference in his animal rights activism, a cause he still continues to do to date.