The late game show legend Bob Barker delighted fans of “The Price Is Right” for 35 years, but a television career that long is bound to have plenty of moments where things went off the rails.
That’s especially the case for “The Price Is Right,” as the calm, composed Barker had a long history of handling contestants who were too enthusiastic or downright foolish, along with moments when the production crew suffered some major snafus.
Barker’s professionalism goes back to the very first contestant he ever brought up for a pricing game back in 1972: an exuberant lady named Connie who grinned and squealed through a game of Any Number as she won a new Chevrolet Vega. The game offers a glimpse of the coolheaded approach that Barker would employ as “The Price Is Right” grew more famous and the crowds grew crazier and crazier.
But Connie pales in comparison to another contestant Bob encountered in the final years of his career. Meet Joy, who got the chance to win a toaster, luggage and a Ford Fusion by playing Ten Chances, a game that involves taking the numbers in the price of each item and putting them in the right order. Getting one right allows the contestant to move on the next prize, with 10 chances in total to win all three.
Unfortunately, Joy didn’t seem to understand Bob’s instructions, and kept on messing up her answers. Bob did his best to remain patient and explain where she was messing up, but when Joy managed to win the car with her final guess, he could no longer maintain his composure and sat down stunned at what had just happened.
Sometimes the madness isn’t the contestants’ fault. In 2002, during a game of Flip Flop, Bob pressed the button to reveal the correct price to see if the contestant was a winner. The door revealing the correct price got jammed as it slid down, and even though enough was shown to reveal that the contestant won, Bob invited her to help him rip the slot off from the game. “I had to prove it!” he joked.
On more than one occasion, Barker would give a pricing game a good kick if it wasn’t working properly. Take this clip from 1984, when a contestant playing a game of Master Key placed a key that he won in a lock to see if he won a brand new dishwasher.
When the key got jammed and wouldn’t turn, Bob gave the key a kick, causing it to snap in two with the key still stuck in the lock. The producers rang the winner bell to confirm that the key was indeed the winning one for the dishwasher. “I learned that kick from Chuck Norris, believe me!” he said.
Barker’s karate kick would become so famous that his successor, Drew Carey, would employ the same technique when he encountered a malfunctioning game.
But perhaps Barker’s most famous handling of a “Price Is Right” snafu came in the fall of 2000, during another game of Ten Chances. A lucky contestant named Daniel won all three prizes, including a new minivan, when the production crew failed to cover up the correct answers in the game.
Barker, after a brief pause, decided to give Daniel all three prizes, noting that three crew members are assigned to check each pricing game before the cameras roll. “We’re going to have a talk with them after the show,” he said with a smile.
Classic episodes of “The Price Is Right” featuring Bob Barker are available to stream on PlutoTV.
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