“The man. The myth. The best. Such a sweet funny guy to hang out with. Loved talking to him,” Sandler, 56, wrote via Instagram on Saturday, August 26, alongside throwback pictures of the former Happy Gilmore costars. “Loved laughing with him. Loved him kicking the crap out of me. He will be missed by everyone I know!”
Sandler noted that it was a “heartbreaking day” as he sent his love to Barker and his family. “Thanks for all you gave us,” he concluded his tribute.
Us Weekly confirmed earlier on Saturday that Barker had died of natural causes at the age of 99. “It is with profound sadness that we announce that the World’s Greatest MC who ever lived, Bob Barker, has left us,” his publicist, Roger Neal, said in a statement.
Barker is survived by half-brother Kent Valandra and nephews Robert Valandra and Chip Valandra as well as niece Vickie Valandra Kelly. The late TV icon’s longtime friend Nancy Burnet is the co-executor of Barker’s estate.
“I am so proud of the trailblazing work Barker and I did together to expose the cruelty to animals in the entertainment industry and including working to improve the plight of abused and exploited animals in the United States and internationally. We were great friends over these 40 years. He will be missed,” Burnet said in her own statement to Us.
While Barker was best known as the host of The Price Is Right from 1972 to 2007, he made his feature film debut in Sandler’s Happy Gilmore. In the 1996 film, Sandler’s titular character was paired with Barker (playing himself) in a celebrity golf tournament. Barker even fake-punches Happy Gilmore when things go awry.
“Bob knows this, [but] we initially wrote [the part] for Ed McMahon. Ed McMahon said he was busy and we were like, ‘Imagine if Bob Barker did it, he'll never do it,’” Sandler recalled to Collider in March. “We sent [him the offer] and next thing you know, Bob Barker — whose neighbor was Chuck Norris at the time and Chuck and Bob used to spar — and Bob was like, ‘Yeah, if I get to fight, if I get to throw punches, I'm doing it.’”
Sandler reassured the outlet that “Bob and I get along” despite the onscreen fight. “Yeah, that was a good time for all of us,” he added at the time.