‘The Price is Right’ Premieres on TVs for First Time on This Day in 1956

by Joe Rutland

If you thought The Price is Right started with Bob Barker, then you’d be wrong. The game show made its debut on TV today in 1956.

Say what? Yes sir, Outsiders. The popular game show debuted on NBC with legendary game-show host Bill Cullen running the games.

Twitter account Retro News Now offers a salute with this montage of screen captures from the original show.

Much like the modern-day version with Barker and, nowadays, Drew Carey hosting, four contestants would make bids. The one close to the actual retail price of an item without going over the price would win that round.

The Price is Right also became television’s first prime-time game show broadcast in color in 1957.

Cullen remained host of the game show through a change in networks in 1963. NBC canceled it but ABC picked up for prime-time viewers in the 1963-64 season. The daytime version would get canceled in 1965.

OK, Outsiders, you probably want a little Barker/Price information. So, CBS brought the game show back as The New Price is Right in 1972. Barker hosted a half-hour daytime version while another veteran game-show host, Dennis James, oversaw a weekly nighttime version.

One other little trivia tidbit: Johnny Olson was the game show’s announcer in 1972. He started the “Come on down!” saying. Olson had a long, distinguished career as an announcer.

Why ‘The Price is Right’ Host Barker Would Close Shows With Specific Words

Anyone who has ever watched Barker host The Price is Right knows that he would end them in a very specific way.

Once the Showcase Showdown was done, he would look toward a camera and say, “This is Bob Barker reminding you to help control the pet population — have your pet spayed or neutered.”

Why did he do this? Barker is a serious animal rights activist. His inspiration comes from his late wife, Dorothy Jo.

Barker talked about it in an interview with The Television Academy Foundation.

“Well, Dorothy Jo was before her times as far as animals were concerned,” Barker said. “… I sensed it coming on. She never really made a point of talking about it, but she became a vegetarian.”

Barker said he’d bought her furs and she didn’t wear them.

“And, the last thing I did, I bought her a full-length leather coat and she never wore it,” he said. “She thanked me for it and just hung it up.”

And what about doing the sign-off on the show?

“I did it,” Barker said. “And then I started doing it a little oftener and a little more often and a little more often. Pretty soon, I’m doing it every day and nobody said anything. That’s not controversial. …”