celebrities, obits

Bob Barker! Come on down to the Pearly Gates!

Last night, I got the news that famed game show host, Bob Barker, finally went on to host the next game show in the sky. Barker, as most of my American readers of a certain age know, was best known as the host of The Price is Right, a rare hour long game show that has been running for over 50 years. Barker started hosting that show– a staple of my youth– in 1972, the year I was born. Because it aired at 11:00 every weekday morning, I wasn’t a regular viewer when I was a kid. I had to go to school. But when I was at home on rare sick days or when there was a school holiday or summer break, I would watch Bob and his “beauties” running a variety of games for excited contestants who had been invited to “come on down!”

That’s quite an outfit Bob is wearing.

Bob Barker passed away in his Hollywood Hills home yesterday at age 99. He was just a few months from his 100th birthday, remarkable given that he’d had some health crises during his lifetime. Barker enjoyed tanning, so he had a few bouts with skin cancer. He also suffered a stroke twenty years ago, had a blocked artery, and underwent prostate surgery. In spite of the health issues that cropped up, Barker was remarkably resilient.

Gay and Jose bid on the Showcase.

I have read about some of the controversies involving Bob Barker and the models who appeared on his show. And, after I heard about his death last night, I noticed people were hitting my blog. There, they no doubt saw my review of Kathleen Bradley’s book. Bradley was the first Black Barker Beauty, and she dished quite a bit about her time on The Price Is Right.

I remember that around the time I read that book, I also read about the models I remembered from the 80s– Dian Parkinson, who famously sued Barker for sexual harassment, Janice Pennington, and Holly Hallstrom, who also sued Barker. But, when I read about the many controversies surrounding Bob Barker’s behavior behind the scenes, I have trouble divorcing it from what I always saw on The Price is Right stage… an unflappable, consummate professional, who was always friendly and charming to every guest. He was like the world’s best cruise director. 😉

I always think of Bob with dark brown hair.

Bob Barker also hosted Truth or Consequences, another game show that was on before my time. I’m sure that show meant even more to Bob than his famous turn on The Price is Right did. It was the beginning of his long and illustrious career, doing a job that almost no one can hope of doing. A brilliant host is extremely difficult to replace, as fans of Jeopardy! have noticed in the wake of Alex Trebek’s death in 2020. But there also aren’t a lot of game show host gigs out there, and openings are few and far between, because it appears to be a fabulous way to make a living.

Only one woman, Dorothy Jo Gideon, had the experience of being Barker’s wife. They were married in 1945 and stayed together until Gideon’s death in 1981. Bob Barker never remarried, although he did have some famous and infamous romantic and working relationships with other women… a couple of which ended in lawsuits.

Bob Barker left The Price is Right in 2007, when he was 83 years old. I’m sure he never expected to live another 16 years, enjoying the California sunshine and working toward promoting animal rights. Mr. Barker was all about animal welfare; he was a vegetarian and was not above using his influence to get other people to be more mindful about their well-being. He was famous for urging people to help control the pet population by having their pets spayed or neutered.

Classic TPIR… Johnny Olson was the guy who called everyone down to Contestant’s Row. That music is vintage TPIR, too. I wonder what it was like for the musicians to play that.

Bob was very good when there were any mishaps… and there were a few of them in the above clip. I have a feeling someone got fired after that disaster. But Bob was such a pro and he handled almost every situation with tremendous panache. I highly recommend watching the above video! Hilarious!

And now he’s not gonna go over.

Anyway… love him or hate him, Bob Barker had a really good run in life, and he could teach us all something by the way he conducted himself on stage. I wish I had his ability to be so graceful under pressure. He was never at a loss for words and could always put a smile on my face.

I can’t say it’s “tragic” that he died, since he was almost 100 years old, but I can say that I have many fond memories of his work. I still like to watch The Price is Right when I get the chance. I think Drew Carey has done a good job taking over The Price is Right, but there will only be ONE Bob Barker. May his eternal home be furnished by a double showcase win and inhabited with many grateful animals!

lessons learned, memories, nostalgia, sports

“Come give your Uncle Charlie a kiss, baby!” Eeeew…

Happy April Fools’ Day, folks. I was originally thinking maybe I’d write something in the spirit of the day… like falsely post that I’m finally pregnant, or Bill and I are divorcing. But then I realized that I generally find April Fools’ Day annoying, at best. I mean… sometimes, the jokes and stunts are relatively amusing, but I mostly think silly fake postings about major life events are kind of stupid.

I will admit that it’s funny when Ritter Sport comes up with gross sounding chocolate combinations. Below is a screenshot of what they did in 2019…

Who says Germans aren’t funny?

Euro Wings also had a funny April Fools’ joke today…

Okay, so this is a good one, too, I guess.

And some time ago, NPR had a pretty good joke about people who don’t read before they react or comment. I used that joke at another time during the year, and sure enough, I got someone… Then, I promptly blogged about the phenomenon.

But I don’t want to write about April Fools’ or the inane shit I’m going to see as my fellow Americans wake up and start posting their crap. I posted last night that I think more Americans should zip it. And I stand by that opinion. 😉 You readers might think I ought to zip it, too, but since this is space I pay for, I’m going to preach on with my bad self. 😀

So what about that title, then? What’s it about? Well, it’s about a 1979 era gymnastics video I watched on YouTube yesterday. I love to watch old school gymnastics, which were less about powerful tumbles and more about artistic expression. I also find the former Soviet Union fascinating.

I happened to catch this video that featured some of the greats of that era– Nadia Comaneci, Emilia Eberle, Kathy Johnson, and Elena Naimushina. Sadly, Ms. Naimushina died suddenly in 2017, but in 1979, she was about 14 years old. She was a great gymnast, so she was interviewed by American sportscaster, Charlie Jones. Charlie Jones was born in 1930, and died in 2008. In 1979, he was pushing 50.

At about two minutes into this video, with the help of a Russian translator, Charlie Jones interviews young Elena Naimushina. Then, he becomes inappropriate…

At about the 2:36 mark, Jones says “Every pretty girl that I interview, always kisses me right here on the cheek.”

Elena laughs as the translator does her job. Then, after a shy giggle, she says “That is something that you can look forward to after the competition.” Then Jones and Elena share a laugh… har-dee-har-har-har!

I was actually a little shocked as I heard Mr. Jones request a kiss from the young gymnast. But then I remember the 70s, and how kids were often pressured to let adults kiss them. Eddie Murphy had a whole 80s era routine about it.

“She got a mustache!”

To Elena’s credit, she managed to handle that awkward moment with grace and charm. Still, it was pretty creepy and inappropriate. Of course, that shit would never fly in 2023, especially given the whole Larry Nassar scandal. I guess it’s just crazy to realize that I was seven years old in 1979, and this kind of thing was quite common. Old guys would not hesitate to ask for intimate gestures of affection from kids. It happened to me a lot when I was coming of age. It was an especially common thing to see on games shows like Family Feud, especially back when Richard Dawson was the host.

“My lovely wife Karen… her equally attractive sister, Jan… Jan’s husband Randy, who’s not so good lookin’, and our sweet niece and their daughter, Jill. Jill is 12 years old.” Then Richard asks Jill if she has a boyfriend. EEEEW!

Nowadays, people wouldn’t necessarily assume that Jill prefers males. Or that Jill is, in fact, a female herself… By now, Jill is probably someone’s grandmother. And, of course, today we’d worry about spreading COVID-19.

Isn’t it interesting how times change? At what point does a person stop being considered “young”? Does it happen at a certain age? I swear, it seems like yesterday that I was a teenager. Now I’m getting old enough to live in a retirement community!

I do think it’s a good thing that requests for kisses and comments to twelve year old girls about boyfriends are best left in the past. But watching these clips, posted when I was a child myself, are a reminder that time marches on, customs change, and things that once used to be okay to say or do can eventually evolve into something very taboo. And that’s no April Fools’ joke!