Bob Barker surprised the audience of Thursday's "The Price Is Right" by appearing on the show, on what was his 90th birthday. This is only the second time he's gone on the show since his final taping back in 2007, capping off a 35 year run. "He looks better than he did even when he left," said executive producer Mike Richards. But Barker brings more than looks back with him. "He was always undervalued as to how funny he was because he was such a great host and so gracious and so well-spoken. He is hilarious and you'll see it in the show."
His return coincides with Pet Adoption Week on the show, a cause near and dear to Barker's heart. He continues to devote enormous amounts of time and money to the Humane Society and other animal welfare groups.
Richards, who took over the show shortly after Barker left, said that they're still in his shadow, but both Richards and the show's current host, Drew Carey, embrace it. "You're not going to outrun [his legacy]," he said. "We're just going to do the best show we know how to do." Since Barker's departure, they've added new games and offered bigger prizes, but it's clear that nobody's forgotten him because "when we had him come out ... the place came apart. It was insane."
Watch Barker present a special showcase during his surprise appearance:
We sat down with Bob and current "Price" host Drew Carey for a few minutes at the taping.
Did you give Drew any advice when you left the show?
Bob Barker: If I gave him advice about his retirement, I would advise him to have some interests that kept him busy. As busy as he wanted to be and not just sit down and stare into space. I think those are the guys who have a bad time of it. I consider myself a complete success at retirement.
Drew Carey: You gotta have something to get you up in the morning.
Is it easier to do charity work now that you don't have a regular job?
Barker: I'm so busy, actually, that I think sometimes about going back into TV to get some rest! I loved what I was doing. I did two shows — "Truth or Consequences" and "Price" — and I loved them both. I had great fun, and every morning, I got up ready to go. I never got up going "I don't wanna go to work today." Anyone who doesn't enjoy his or her job, I have sympathy for. It's important to love what you're doing, and I did.
Carey: We're lucky that we get to do something [we love]. I mean, I wouldn't do it for free. (Drew and Bob laugh.) But I enjoy doing it. I don't want to put that thought in your head.
Barker: (Calling out to Richards.) If you're listening... (Drew laughs.)
What's the best or worst thing anyone has said to you on the street?
Barker: Has said on the street? Well, I can't repeat [it]. If I did, you couldn't write it! I've had all sort of things said, some of them pleasant.
Carey: I think it's mostly — you get so many nice things every day. I don't deserve half the things people say to me. "Thank you for this," "Oh, my God, my grandmother and I watch you." You get that stuff all the time — it just makes you feel good all day. You get this constant positive feedback from the world. Including the applause. Nobody just gets applause like this when they walk into work. You know what I mean?
Barker: Well, I've solved that. When I walk into the room, my housekeeper applauds. (Drew cracks up.) When I walk out into the yard, my gardener applauds. My pool man applauds...