Oral Histories

Interview of Bob Barker

Host of the Ralph Edwards Productions program “Truth or Consequences,” and of the game show “The Price is Right.” Animal rights activist.
Series:
Ralph Edwards Productions
Topic:
Film and Television
Interviewer:
Collings, Jane
Interviewee:
Barker, Bob
Persons Present:
Barker and Collings.
Place Conducted:
Bob Barker's home in Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Jane Collings, interviewer and senior editor, Center for Oral History Research. B.A., Communications, Antioch College; M.A., Communications, University of Iowa; Ph.D., Critical Studies, UCLA. Collings prepared for the interview by reviewing archival material on the history of the company and reviewing published sources on the life of Bob Barker.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Barker was then given an opportunity to review the transcript but made no corrections or additions.
Length:
3 hrs.
Language:
English
Copyright:
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Audio:
Series Statement:
The Ralph Edwards Productions series seeks to document the history of the Ralph Edwards Productions company by interviewing persons who had worked closely with Ralph Edwards in the early years of the company. Ralph Edwards Productions produced This is Your Life, as well as Truth or Consequences, a seminal program of the audience participation genre. Additional materials on Ralph Edwards Productions are held in Performing Arts Special Collections and the Film and Television Archive at UCLA.
Early life—Grows up on Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota—The Hare School—Self-identifies as Native American while living on the reservation—Mother's career and education—Enjoys radio as a youth—Ambitions as a youth—Moves to Springfield, Missouri for ninth grade—Attends Drury University—Pearl Harbor—Volunteers for naval aviation service—Trains at Cape Canaveral, Florida—Reassigned to naval training near Detroit—The thorough nature of Navy flight training—Returns to Drury University once war ends—Begins working in radio—Truth or Consequences on radio—Winner Take All—Moves to Florida after WWII—Relocates to Los Angeles and finds audience participation work with the Southern California Edison Company—Gets a break with Ralph Edwards—Auditions for Ralph Edwards—Barker's method of selecting audience participants—More on auditioning for Ralph Edwards—Edwards' faith in Barker's abilities—Edwards' persona on Truth or Consequences—Edwards' ability to relate to any kind of person—Edwards' multifaceted entertainment industry talents—Barker's admiration for Edwards as a professional and as a person—Crowds watching live TV from the sidewalks outside the studio—Truth or Consequences goes to tape and goes to color before other shows—Barker's preference for intimate theaters—Truth or Consequences the first show to produce new shows for syndication—Hosts T or C and Price is Right simultaneously—Audiences over time—Has fun interacting with kids as contestants—Barker's genuine enjoyment of his work—Barker's regard for Ralph Edwards—Barker's advice for young performers—The end of the T or C run—Current game shows.
Barker's mother's hopes for her son's future—Gets into radio—The excitement of being hired by Ralph Edwards—The role of faith in Barker's life—"Game shows" as compared to "audience participation shows"—Changes in audiences over the years—Changes in modes of dress over the years—Arrives in Los Angeles on a smoggy day—The Barkers' continued good fortune in Hollywood—The beginning of Barker's work as promoter of electric appliances on radio—Hosts Your Big Moment, as well as furniture commercials for Bekins Company on television—Hosts daily radio programs to promote electrical power—The excitement of participating in the pioneering days of television—Snafus on the sets of Miss Universe—The Miss Universe format—More snafus on the sets of Miss Universe—Barker's enjoyment of doing the pageants—Contestants over time—A security breach at a pageant in Puerto Rico—A stage collapses at a Miss Universe pageant in Perth, Australia—Attitudes toward fur coats in Barker's Hollywood cohort—Barker's objections to the use of fur coats in the Miss Universe pageant—Changing attitudes toward fur and leather coats in society—Dorothy Jo Barker's nascent animal rights sensibility—Barker's vegetarianism—Barker's concerns about animal overpopulation—Efforts to support the spaying and neutering of animals throughout the United States—Barker's work on behalf of captive animals—The work of Animal Defenders International—More on Barker's work on behalf of captive animals—Barker's support of the Sea Shepherd Conservancy—Paul Watson—Barker's opposition to animal research—Social attitudes toward animals—The producing abilities of both Mark Goodson and Ralph Edwards—A round of Jeopardy won by the computer, Watson—Changes to the Price is Right format—The popularity of The Price is Right—Bidding at The Price is Right—Meets the Souza family—Barker's work as parade emcee—Sees Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra on a first date with Dorothy Jo—Barker interviews Frank Sinatra as parade grand marshal—More on Barker's work as parade emcee—Performs commercials on Truth or Consequences—Buys a fancy convertible once successful in Hollywood.