Barker named to Hall of Famous Missourians

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- After more than 6,500 episodes of "The Price Is Right," it was Bob Barker's turn to "Come on down."

House Speaker Rod Jetton and Barry Bennett, a former radio broadcaster who now works for Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, couldn't resist the opportunity to repeat the famed line. Only this time, Barker descended the stairs of the Missouri Capitol Rotunda as he was inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians.

Barker is the 30th inductee, joining luminaries such as Mark Twain, Walt Disney, Walter Cronkite, Scott Joplin and Charlie Parker.

Several hundred politicians, office workers and tourists watched the unveiling of Barker's bronze bust Wednesday.

"I did 'The Price Is Right' for 35 years, and they're asking me how it was to beat up Adam Sandler," joked Barker, referring to his cameo in Sandler's 1996 comedy, "Happy Gilmore."

Barker was born in Washington state and raised on a South Dakota Indian reservation before moving to Springfield, where he worked as a summer bellhop at Lake Taneycomo and graduated from Central High School.

He attended what is now Drury University on a basketball scholarship and graduated in 1947, his education interrupted by a stint as a Navy fighter pilot during World War II. Barker worked for a Springfield radio station before moving to south Florida and then to Southern California.

Barker joined the quiz show "Truth or Consequences" as host in 1956 and remained with the program for 19 years. In 1972, he took over the revived "Price Is Right." Barker retired from the game show this year.

Jetton recalled a childhood watching Barker on television.

"Women loved him," he said. "He was always smooth, he was always friendly. ... He entertained all of us in America for years."

Jetton also complimented Barker for his political skills in staying "on message" -- in this case, his signature signoff urging viewers to spay and neuter their household pets.
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