‘The Price Is Right’: Who Hosted the Show Before Bob Barker?

by Taylor Cunningham

The Price Is Right has been reigning over daytime TV for fifty years now. And the hosts who have stood on the infamous stage have much to do with its ongoing success. But did you know that those hosts didn’t begin with Bob Barker?

When it comes to the game show that is currently running on ABC, yes, Bob Barker was the first person to helm. But that version is actually a reboot of a classic TV series by the same name that aired from 1956 to 1965.

That show played out quite similarly to The Price Is Right that we all know and love today—but in black and white. And the man who helped those contestants take home kitchenware and new cars was named Bill Cullen.

The series was just as popular the first time around as it is now. In fact, it was so well loved that it aired twice a day. First, it would play during a prime timeslot on daytime TV, just as it does now. And then it aired in the evening so those who worked or went to school in the afternoon would have a chance to watch.

In his day, Cullen was known for a few different shows. He also sat on the panel of I’ve Got a Secret for 15 years. And, he served as a captain for The Match Game for another four. But he earned his reputation by being a familiar voice on the radio before televisions were a common staple in homes.

Bill Cullen Nearly Turned Down the Original ‘The Price Is Right’

Interestingly, Cullen nearly walked away from his chance with The Price Is Right. When creator Bob Steward and producers Mark Goodson and Bill Todman first pitched the concept, he thought the show would fail because he thought it had no entertainment value.

The three managed to bring Bill Cullen aboard, of course. And he realized just how fast people took to the idea of guessing prices to win prizes. The vintage series also offered viewers a chance to win. For each Showcase Showdown, they could take a stab at the price and send it in on a postcard. The person or people who came closest would win a prize of their own.

When The Price Is Right came back to television in 1972, he was the first person the producers asked to host. But he turned down the gig. At the time, Cullen was living in New York. And the show was set to record in Los Angeles, but the former host wasn’t interested in relocating.

So, Bob Barker took the job, and the rest is history. He went on to win 16 Emmys during his 33 years as host. And we all learned a valuable lesson on spaying and neutering our pets.