“Come on down! You’re the next contestant onnnnnnnnn The Price Is Right!”
You’re lying if you say you never dreamed about hearing these words. Price Is Right was a part of everyone’s childhood, and frankly still holds a special place in our hearts.
There are many things you probably didn’t know about the show, though.
The game show’s ratings actually improved once Bob Barker started going gray.
“I was prematurely gray,” Barkers told the Los Angeles Times. “I began to gray at my temples, and I guess it could be that technology at that time was not what it is today, but I didn’t look good. It looked like I had no hair at my temples, so they suggested I tint it. We taped ahead. So let’s say on the Wednesday show I had dark hair, but when we taped the next show I had gray hair, and that show aired on Thursday. I got a letter from a fellow who said, ‘Bob, you must have had one hell of a night.’”
Once they realized fans responded better to Barker’s gray locks, he was given permission to stop dying his hair in 1987.
There’s one man in charge of screening every single person who’s vying to be on their favorite show. “I am looking for energy, sincerity, and potential humor,” he says. “And if they can equal my energy or exceed it and maintain it, they are at the top of the list.”
No bribing with gifts, though. And don’t get too aggressive.
Two years before Wheel Of Fortune came around, Vanna White was a contestant on Price Is Right. Though she didn’t make it on stage, contestant’s row is just as fun!
Yes, winning all those things is fun, but you still have to pay taxes on everything you win. Just ask Aurora De Lucia, who won a car on the show. She ended up having to pay $2067 in sales tax, plus federal tax, which all added up to about $9000.
“I think it’s slightly silly to complain about netting many thousands of dollars for one day of work, which is ultimately super crazy fun,” she says. “But I also think that sometimes people can be a little in the face of game show winners if the winners mention taxes at all. And it’s like, well, this is kind of a legit problem that you do have to think about, especially if you want to keep the car.”
In 1977, a contestant named Yolanda had a bit of a wardrobe malfunction. She got so excited to be called that she started jumping up and down. On her run down to contestant’s row, her tube top slipped completely off.
“She began jumping up and down and out they came,” Barker told Larry King about “the most talked about single incident in the history of the show.”
In 1988, Barker Beauty Janice Pennington was accidentally hit by a camera during a taping, and she fell right into contestant’s row. She was knocked unconscious and required two surgeries. One of her shoulders needed reconstruction, which left it an inch shorter than the other. Price Is Right wouldn’t allow her to wear a swimsuit on the show anymore because of the scars. After 29 years on the show in October 2000, Pennington was fired. She believes it was because she gave a deposition in a wrongful termination suit for another one of Barker’s Beauty.
Terry Kniess literally changed the game with his bids in 2008. The contestant made it to the final Showcase Showdown and stunned everyone when he guessed the exact amount that his showcase was worth. Production had to be stopped for 45 minutes to confirm he wasn’t cheating (he wasn’t.) Terry says he just studied the rotation of all the prizes on the show and memorized their values.
When Drew Carey took over for Bob Barker, fans were upset. As a way of trying to keep the show popular, long-time producer Roger Dobkowitz would make the games easier so more people would win.
“It was extremely important for the first couple of months of the show to have plenty of winners,” Dobkowitz wrote in a blog post. “Such a situation would maintain a real positive and upbeat feel to the show and help viewers, hopefully, to accept Drew as the new host.”
In order to achieve this, he ignored the prize budget and scheduled easy games with easy combinations so more people would win.
“However, my plan to give away plenty of prizes went a little too well,” Dobkowitz said. “By January 2008, I was about $700,000 over budget.”
Comedian Danielle Perez lost her legs in an accident in 2004. When she went on Price Is Right, things got a little awkward when her prize was revealed: a treadmill.
“It’s funny though, they edited out a little bit,” Perez told People. “When they revealed the prizes, the audience hesitated. There was a feeling of, ‘Oh no, they’re not really serious. They’re not gonna do this, they’re not gonna put this woman through this.’”
Sheree Heil won the most expensive car on the show, an Audi R8 V-8 Spyder valued at $157,300. She also won $10,000 cash and a pair of Prada shoes valued at $3,045.
“The reason it was so popular originally and why it is still popular is because of the powerful basic premise of the show—everything is based on prices,” Barker told the Los Angeles Times of the secret to the game show’s success. “Everyone identifies with prices. The minute we put something up for bid and the contestant makes a bid, the viewer is involved. Once you become involved, we have accomplished what the producer of every game show wants: viewer involvement. The Price is Right has that to the nth degree.”
Did you know any of these things?