The beloved game show host and animal-rights activist was proud of his Sioux heritage.
The C&I crew would like to offer prayers and condolences to the family, friends and many, many admirers of Bob Barker, the beloved Truth or Consequences and The Price is Right game-show host, animal rights activist, and Happy Gilmore co-star, who passed away Saturday at his Los Angeles home. He was 99.
A native of Darrington, Washington, Barker grew up in South Dakota, and spent his early childhood on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, where his widowed mother accepted a teaching position after the 1929 death of his father.
“We lived in a town called Mission on the reservation,” he told the Argus-Leader newspaper of Sioux Falls, S.D. in 1962. “When I first got there in 1931, I saw an Indian sitting on a bench in town. He had long hair, wore a blanket, and could not speak English.”
Speaking with another interviewer about his youth in Mission, Barker recalled: “Cowboys tied up their horses at hitching rails. It was like I was growing up in the Old West.”
In his autobiography, Priceless Memories, Barker wrote that, early on, he learned he was part Sioux on his father’s side.
“And I went to grade school with some of the Sioux,” he told the Argus-Leader. “I used to play with Alex Raincounter, and one of my heroes at the local high school was Chris Yellow Robe.”
“I’ve always bragged about being part Indian, because they are a people to be proud of. And the Sioux were the greatest warriors of them all. They’ve been called the greatest light cavalry in the history of man.”
Unfortunately, Barker added, “I have never been on a horse without falling off.”
But that never stopped him from being a dedicated animal-rights activist. As the New York Times reported Saturday, Barker “quit as master of ceremonies for both the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants in 1988 because they gave fur coats as prizes. He also protested the mistreatment of animals by their trainers on the sets of various movies and television shows. He ended every installment of The Price Is Right by saying: ‘Help control the pet population. Have your pet spayed or neutered.’”
Indeed, Barker was so closely associated with his animal-rights activism that, when a fan of the group Luce compiled a DIY music video for the song “Buy a Dog” — a tune that exuberantly reminds us “It’s a miracle that we’re even here and alive! — he capped it off at the end with a loving tribute to the Price is Right legend and Happy Gilmore badass.