Game show ‘The Price Is Right’ celebrates its 50th season
NEW YORK (AP) — If you can remember the price of a 30-ounce jar of mayonnaise, what an Armani purse goes for and how much to pay for an iPhone 12, there’s really only one place to shine — “The Price Is Right.”
The longest-running game show in television history is celebrating its 50th season this month and offering viewers a chance to, as always, “come on down” to win by guessing the correct retail price for various items. Some rival game shows reward contestants for their esoteric and physical knowledge. Some shows require contestants to have luck, a friend to call, strategy, or the ability to cook or sing. The value of everything is valued on “The Price Is Right.”
“This program is about how much creamed corn costs. It’s that simple. It doesn’t matter if you’re Martha Stewart or just scraping by, you likely bought a can cream corn,” George Gray, the show’s announcer, says.
“The Price Is Right” is a remarkably sturdy thing, surviving the retirement of beloved host Bob Barker in 2007, a turnover in models — sometimes acrimoniously — the introduction of male models in 2012 and even out-witting COVID-19.
It has evolved subtlety, with grandfather clocks being replaced by electronic gadgets. These days, exotic trips are more visible thanks to high-definition TV monitors. Packages to Belize and Scotland have also become more experiential with the addition of scuba gear and golf clubs.
” We’ve been able keep up with today’s new prizes and what people are looking for. But it’s still the same game show — you still need to know the price of that laptop or that iPhone,” says Rachel Reynolds, a model from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who joined the show in 2003.
Contestants include mostly regular people, nurses aides, home renovators and book store managers. Drew Carey, the current host, will exclaim “Good luck man.” Or “Let’s get those great prizes back there Heather.” They are thrilled to be there. One recently wore a partially bedazzled T-shirt that said: “Drew, Let’s party like it’s $19. 99.”
The dozens of games — from Double Prices to Five Price Tags and Plinko — test the receipt-minded prices of things like a 12-ounce tin of corned beef, a pair of stainless steel patio heaters and a six-night stay in Philadelphia with a cheesesteak tour. The show is so kind that even contestants who make it on stage but don’t get to play a pricing game leave with a $300 consolation prize. To celebrate the milestone, each day will feature a game where contestants could win $1 million. A two-hour primetime special on Sept. 30 will include a look back at the biggest winners, never before seen outtakes and a salute to Barker.
“The Price Is Right” made it’s debut on NBC in 1956, with Bill Cullen as host and consisting of four people bidding auction-style on items. The show was canceled in 1965, but the current version was revived in 1972 at CBS, with Barker as host, influencing a nation with his sign-off advice to get “pets spayed or neutered.” Carey has kept that slogan in his honor.
Since 1972, producers say over $300 million in cash and prizes has been given away. More than 2 million audience members have attended a taping over those years and 68,000 of them have become contestants. More than 8,400 cars have been given away.
Reynolds has been married twice and has had a child. Her husband is a regular guest on “The Price Is Right” to present wedding shows. It all started with a baptism of fire.
She had just six months experience in modeling prizes when she was asked to drive a Ford Mustang onto set. The Ford Mustang was still in neutral when stagehands moved it towards her. Her job was to wave, smile, and hit the breaks. Instead she hit the clutch.
By then, the muscle car had started to drift into the set and was finally pushing Door No. 3. With a gentle nudge. She recalls, “I was like, ‘Oh, I’m getting fired!’” Barker, however, was gracious and didn’t miss a beat — and she did too.
She credited the show with making the Barker-Carey transition seamless (something “Jeopardy!” did not do well this year ). Barker was a graceful, unflappable gentleman with a regal elegance. Carey is a Cleveland blue-collar wiz and a good friend.
Gray said he is always encouraged by contestants cheering each other on, even if they lose. He says, “If you are the Red Sox you don’t cheer on the Yankees.” He adds, “But when someone else gets to play, you cheer .”
” I love the fact that The Price is Right is always a positive show.” “Everybody pitches in, and everyone wants everyone else to win. I think that really is always a bright spot in people’s days.”
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits