The timing is right

Published May 14, 2007

LOS ANGELES - Bob Barker's road to retirement is passing through prime time.

The legendary daytime game show host won't tape his last Price Is Right episode until June 6, but CBS will honor Barker this week with a pair of prime time specials celebrating his five decades on television.

"After 50 years in show business and 35 years on CBS, we want to give Bob a prime time sendoff befitting of an entertainment icon, " Nina Tassler, president of CBS Entertainment, said in a statement.

Barker, 83, said he picked "just the right time" to say goodbye. "I do not have any regrets about retiring, " he said. "Isn't that strange? I expected to have second thoughts."

Barker started his national TV career in 1956 as host of Truth or Consequences. The CBS special features footage of a black-haired Barker cajoling contestants through tricycle races and flapjack-flipping contests.

There are also clips of Barker's appearance as a "cowboy Romeo" on Bonanza and memorable moments from past Price Is Right seasons, including a montage of overexcited contestants falling down and various men and women who have kissed and mightily hugged the affable host.

CBS president Leslie Moonves makes a guest appearance, praising Barker's "wit, charm and class."

"The stage will never be the same, " Moonves says. "You are a legend, and I will always be proud to have worked with you."

The specials, set to air Wednesday and Thursday, also feature snapshots from Barker's personal collection, including pictures of his mother, his wife and an Associated Press photo of the fitness buff jogging shirtless on a Biloxi, Miss., beach.

"When I saw that picture, I said, 'Get it out in every city in the country, ' " Barker recalled. "I said, 'I've never looked that good before, and I'll never look that good again.' "

Barker said he's looking forward to resuming his daily exercise regimen in retirement. "I've been so busy here lately that I've had to stop even working out. I hate that, " he said. "I'm anxious to just get back into that."

He also plans to travel with his brother and continue working with his animal-welfare charity, the DJ&T Foundation. Named for his late wife, Dorothy Jo, and his mother, Matilda ("Everybody called her Tilly, " he said), the organization provides grants for spay and neuter services nationwide. Barker has financed the program since he established it in 1995.

An overflow of fans turned out when the specials were taped last month. Many wore customized T-shirts commemorating their favorite host's reign.

"I don't think it's going to be as good without him, " said fan Nicci Siggson, 27, who wore a T-shirt that said, "Things to do before Bob retires: Make it to Price Is Right, kiss Bob's cheek, spin the wheel."

"He's handsome for an 85-year-old, " said Amanda Hancock, 36, adding a couple of years to Barker's longevity. "He makes everyone feel special."

Barker's replacement, still to be picked, is expected to start in September.

Barker said he was "absolutely delighted" by the network tribute. "For them to celebrate my 50 years on television was just a wonderful climax to the whole thing for me, " he said. "It was fun, fun, fun, wasn't it?"

Watch them

Celebrating Bob Barker

One-hour specials honoring the venerable game show host air at 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday on WTSP-Ch. 10.