Without a doubt the best-known host of The Price Is Right, Bob appeared on national television nearly every weekday for almost 51 years, from December 31, 1956, through October 12, 2007. When he started on Price, he was already a well-established presence; he was in his 17th season of hosting Truth or Consequences, another solid hit of a show that stopped producing new episodes three years later. In 1977, he took over the syndicated version of Price, as well, after Dennis James’s contract to host that version ran out; he stayed with that version in addition to the daytime show until it was cancelled in the ‘79-’80 season.
The circumstances that lead to Bob leaving Truth or Consequences are actually rather odd. Ralph Edwards shut down production of the show in 1975...not because of low ratings, but because they had already taped enough episodes to last another two years in certain markets thanks to the “bicycling” method of syndication in use at the time. When Ralph decided to start things up again for the ‘77-’78 season, Bob had already taken over the nighttime version of TPIR, so Truth or Consequences suddenly had no host. (Coincidentally, the man who eventually got the hosting job was Bob Hilton, who very nearly became Price’s announcer eight years later following the death of Johnny Olson.)
Despite being one of the genre’s most recognizable faces, Bob has only hosted five game shows. Aside from Truth or Consequences and The Price Is Right, he also emceed End of the Rainbow, The Family Game, and That’s My Line, three considerably less successful shows that he’s said he’d rather forget about. He’s also known to have hosted at least one unsold pilot, a show called “Simon Says..” that was unsuccessfully pitched in 1971, and to have produced a local game show called “Lucky Pair” from 1969-1971 for Los Angeles’s KNXT, the station that would become KCBS.
On October 31, 2006, Bob announced that he would retire from The Price Is Right at the end of Season 35, becoming one of the only game show hosts in history to end his career entirely on his own terms. His final episode, the 6,731st daytime show, aired on June 15, 2007.
Drew Carey became the host of The Price Is Right on October 15, 2007, with the start of the show's 36th season. Although best known as a comedian and as the star of The Drew Carey Show, this is not Drew's first venture into the world of game shows -- he hosted the sort-of-game-show Whose Line Is It Anyway? for several seasons, and his performance on The Power of 10 is said to be what attracted CBS's executives to him for Price. He also appeared as a contestant twice on celebrity editions of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.
Dennis was a true pioneer in television, hosting many shows dating back to the earliest days of the medium. He hosted a weekly nighttime version of TPIR from 1972 to 1977, at which point his contract ran out and Barker took the reigns. He provided a warm, friendly presence on the show at a time when Bob acted surprisingly like a stereotypical game show host. Dennis’s signature show closing was rather different from Bob’s – “Don’t miss the show next week, ‘cause if you do, then we’re gonna miss you.”
Dennis passed away in 1997.
Tom hosted a daily nighttime version of Price during Season 14 (1985-1986). Although he himself is rather critical of his performance on the show, most people agree that he did an excellent job in a very difficult role.
Tom was already a game show veteran in his own right when he took on Price, which was actually one of his last shows. Among his other noteworthy hosting jobs are Password Plus, which he took over when Allen Ludden took ill; the ‘70s version of Name That Tune; and the cult favorite Whew!.
Best known as the portrayer of Paul Williams on The Young and the Restless, Doug hosted a rather unsuccessful five-a-week nighttime show called “The New Price Is Right” from September 1994 to January 1995. Opinions of the show’s quality run the gamut from “fantastic” to “horrible,” and opinions of Doug’s hosting vary just as greatly. Evidently, though, someone in a position of power thought he did at least a passable job, as he was given an audition in January 2007 to take over the daytime show (an audition which obviously didn't get him anywhere).
Incidentally, the '94 version of the show had two pilots. Davidson hosted the first one, and the second one was helmed by Los Angeles news personality Mark Kriski.
Bill, generally regarded as the king of game show hosts, hosted the original version of The Price Is Right that ran on NBC from 1956-1963 and on ABC from 1963-1965. He passed away in 1990. If you want to know more about Bill, Matt Ottinger has an incredible page about his life and work at The Bill Cullen Homepage. Any attempt by me to provide information about the man would be redundant.
If Bill was so great, how did Bob and Dennis get hired?
Ironically, it could be argued that Bill's immense talent is what kept him from hosting The New Price Is Right. At the time the show began, he already had three different projects going in New York, and as he didn't want to commute, his salary in Los Angeles would have had to essentially replace all three of those. TPIR simply didn't have a big enough budget to make up for what Bill would have been walking away from.
Has Bob or Drew ever missed a taping?
Yes, but only once. On December 2, 1974, Bob got the flu, and Dennis James “pinch hit” for him for the four episodes taped that day -- December 24, 25, 26, and 27. Aside from that one time, if Bob or Drew has been unable to get to a taping, the taping has simply been cancelled.
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