It’s hard to imagine a time when quiz shows didn’t populate the airwaves. One program that helped to establish the golden formula is The Price is Right. Indeed, it raised the bar with its big-money prizes, multitude of games and lavish production values. What’s more, we’ve strayed far from the Big Wheel to uncover some incredible factoids about the series. So, come on down and join us as we count down 20 secrets about the longest running game show in U.S. television history.
20. Janice Pennington was once in the wrong place at the wrong time
The last thing you should be worrying about at work is being knocked out cold. Unfortunately, this was the fate that befell model Janice Pennington. She has some bad memories of her time on The Price is Right – most notably the instance that saw her knocked out by one of the cameras. In fact, the force was so strong that it sent the hapless beauty flying into the contestants’ row!
19. Bob Barker didn’t want to do the show initially
Fearing that the series may flop, Bob Barker was actually cautious about doing the show at first. In fact, he already had his eye on two other quiz shows – Gambit and The Joker’s Wild. However, some persuasion from the network’s executives made Barker see the light.
18. Fighting for the rights of animals
Once Bob Barker did come on board, he made sure to make reference to an issue that was close to his heart – animal rights. It was this that inspired his famous sign-off, “Have your pets spayed or neutered.” What’s more, the passionate animal lover even denounced the fur coats that were initially up for grabs as prizes on the show.
17. The chips used in the Plinko game are incredibly rare
Thought those Plinko chips were easy to get hold of? Think again. Surprisingly, there are only ten such chips in existence, which have to be locked in a special box after the game has concluded. On a related note, the Plinko game got its name from the “plink, plink” noise that the chips made when scooting around the machine.
16. Car-crash TV
Oh dear, this one’s pretty cringe-worthy. Barker Beauty Rachel Reynolds is probably still having nightmares about an ill-fated episode in 2004 – the night she crashed one of the luxurious cars on set! Indeed, while attempting to manoeuver the vehicle for one of the games, she inadvertently crashed into a door. That’s a big whoops.
15. To dye, or not to dye, that is the question
Poor Bob Barker had a tough old time figuring out what to do with his hair. As a prematurely gray man, he was one of the few TV hosts of the time to sport a silver fox hairdo. In fact, he only decided to go all natural after several failed attempts to dye and tint his hair. What’s more, in a bizarre twist the new look actually helped to bolster the ratings.
14. Contestants are advised not to wear a certain color
Yes, that’s right. Audience members looking to attend the show need to think hard about what they’re wearing, because if it’s green, chances are you’ll stick out in all the wrong ways. Indeed, the producers advise against donning the color at all as it can sometimes blend in with the chroma key screens that are present in some of the games.
13. The microphone is long and skinny for a reason
Ever wondered why the microphone Drew Carey holds is so long and skinny? Well, it’s actually more than just an aesthetic choice. Not all of the contestants taking part run down like lunatics, and the bizarre mic shape is designed with such shy individuals in mind. The idea is that they won’t feel too scared or nervous when talking into it.
12. Bob Barker’s sudden departure remains a mystery
Despite being an 83-year-old man, many were still surprised by the abrupt nature of Bob Barker’s exit. In fact, Barker had signed a five-year contract just 12 months prior to his surprise announcement in 2007 that he was leaving the show. However, there are plenty of unsubstantiated rumors claiming to explain his sudden retirement. More on that later…
11. Conquering the Showcase Showdown
Fans of the show will know just how unlikely it is for a contestant to guess the exact value of the Showcase Showdown. However, in 2010 Terry Kniess outsmarted them all. Indeed, he correctly guessed the value of the prize thanks to his incredible memory of the show’s previous rewards. What’s more, presenter Drew Carey was so taken aback that he had the taping stopped in order to investigate whether Kniess was cheating.
10. Come on down! But watch the step…
Sometimes the excitement of being picked on the show can lead to unexpected injuries. Take contestant Michael Lerner, for example. After being asked to “come on down,” Lerner sprinted towards the stage, only to take a nasty bump that caused his Achilles tendon to tear. Scott Schmidt also suffered a similar fate when he went over on his ankle, forcing him to stay seated for the duration of the game.
9. It was originally hosted by Bill Cullen
Bob Barker made a name for himself as the host of The Price is Right, but he wasn’t the first presenter who got the gig. In fact, that honor goes to Bill Cullen, who hosted the show during its first year in 1956. Unfortunately, the young upstart had to leave the position due to his ongoing battle with polio.
8. The audience is hand-picked by one crew member
You’d be mistaken for thinking that the audience is chosen at random, because that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Indeed, it’s an arduous process that involves a member of the production team screening hundreds of potential candidates. Oh, and if you’re not lively enough, you’re basically shown the door. Charming…
7. A very embarrassing bathroom break
If you’re going to appear as an audience member on The Price is Right, you should probably make sure you don’t need to use the bathroom while the taping’s in progress. Well, try telling that to Patricia Bernard. The contestant was called to “come on down,” but was in the restroom, leaving her husband with the task of running to get her. Let’s just hope she had enough time to wash her hands before she shook presenter Bob Barker’s hand…
6. Missing out on all the fun
Annoyingly for viewers at home, the funniest part of the show doesn’t actually appear on television. In fact, it takes place during the commercials. While the laborious task of replacing games for upcoming segments takes place, Drew Carey likes to keep the energy levels up by dancing, joking and whipping the crowd into a frenzy.
5. The Price is a tax fright
Receiving prizes on the show isn’t quite as straightforward as you might believe, as there’s also the small print to consider. For instance, winners still have to pay taxes on every item won on the show, which can come as quite a shock. Indeed, contestants in the past have scooped up prizes unawares, before being made to fill out paperwork to seal the sometimes unwanted deal.
4. Drew Carey’s the gift that keeps on giving
The appointment of Drew Carey as host turned out to be a blessing in disguise for would-be contestants. After his hiring, producers upped the amount of winners on the show to keep ratings up and make players feel more at ease with the new presenter. On top of that, they also introduced a new game entitled Drew Carey’s Million Dollar Spectacular, which was won in 2008 by Cynthia Azevedo.
3. Major wardrobe malfunction
We’ve touched on just how excitable the audiences are, but not on arguably the biggest blooper in the show’s history – the flashing incident. Yes, as dear Yolanda Bowersley bolted excitedly towards the stage, her top fell down, presumably leaving viewers aghast. Bob Barker subsequently referred to it in an interview with Larry King as “the most talked about single incident in the history of the show.”
2. Countless lawsuits were brought against Bob Barker
As alluded to earlier, if the rumors are to be believed, Barker’s departure was due to the multiple lawsuits brought against the seasoned presenter. Many of the models who appeared on the show alleged that they had been sexually assaulted, unfairly dismissed or discriminated against on the grounds of their age and weight by Barker. So, did CBS finally tire of the presenter’s legal problems? Perhaps we’ll never know.
1. Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul was a contestant on the show
The Price is Right has a history of featuring celebrity figures on the show, but rarely before they’ve hit it big. Well, in 2000 future Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul appeared as a contestant. The then unknown actor was so excited to be on that he exclaimed, “I’m touching Bob Barker!”