“Truth or Consequences” host Bob Barker married his high school sweetheart, but they never became parents in their 36 years of marriage. However, Barker has no regrets and enjoys life today after his wife’s devastating demise 40 years back.
When Bob Barker wasn’t gracing our screen playing host on the game show “The Price Is Right,” he was making memories with his wife, Dorothy Jo Gideon. The pair were married for 36 years before her demise.
The lovebirds first crossed paths in the mid-30s at an Ella Fitzgerald concert. Barker was only 15, but he immediately fell in love with Gideon. They dated for several years, and in 1945, once Gideon turned 20, the pair eloped and got married.
TV Show host Bob Barker, wife Dorothy Jo Barker | Source: Getty Images
During the early stages of their marriage, Barker worked in a radio station, while Gideon also worked in entertainment, singing in commercials. When Gideon heard that there was an opportunity for her husband to get a job at an audience participation show, she encouraged him to take it.
Their marriage was blissful, and Gideon was Barker’s soulmate. They remained in love and happily married for 36 years. Sadly, in 1981, Gideon was diagnosed with lung cancer and died only six months later.
As is expected, Barker was devastated by the loss. He sank into a deep depression and spent the next two years dealing with the loss. Even in mourning, he refused to go into total despair and immersed himself in his work.
NO KIDS FOR THE TV ICON
TV Show host Bob Barker, and wife Dorothy Jo Barker | Source: Getty Images
While many couples look forward to having kids after walking down the aisle, the case was different for Barker. Despite being married for over three decades, he and his departed wife had no kids. Barker told Esquire they had no time to be parents, adding:
“I don’t regret it, not when so many of my friends are having so much trouble with their children. I have thirteen ducks, and that’s a lot of work.”
Instead of kids, he loved working with cats and dogs and grew into helping animals of all sizes, a passion he has held since he was a child helping out strays and injured animals. He says that, like millions of others, he was born with a love for animals and feels sorry for those that do not like them.
TV Show host Bob Barker, and wife Dorothy Jo Barker with their pet dog | Source: Getty Images
He also shared that at one point in life, he had two rabbits, and even though one died, the remaining one lived a long life. The rabbit was free to go anywhere in the house, and Barker admitted that he would chew stuff all over the place.
His home office had files and papers chewed on, but he couldn’t care less. He had a wonderful time with the rabbit as a companion and admitted that his pet had a spot in his bedroom where he would run and sit, waiting for Barker to pet him.
Barker did not need kids to carry beautiful memories of his wife, as years after her demise, he still honors her memories. He says that Gideon, a former animal rights activist, greatly influenced and encouraged him to work with animals.
American game show host Bob Barker and his wife Dorothy Jo (1924 – 1981) play with three dogs in their back yard, November 4, 1977. | Source: Getty Images
“She was ahead of her time. She really was. She stopped wearing fur coats before anyone was stopping,” Barker said. “She became a vegetarian before people were becoming vegetarian. And I gradually did the same thing with her.”
He has since worked with countless animal efforts and has a foundation, the DJ & T Foundation, that has, for many years, subsidized spays and neuters. He continues to work with animals as a passion and as a way to honor his late wife.
BARKER NEVER GOT OVER HIS WIFE’S D E A T H
American television game show host Bob Barker attends the premiere of “Happy Gilmore” at the Cineplex Odeon Cinema in Century City, California, US, on February 7, 1996. | Source: Getty Images
So many years have passed since Gideon’s tragic demise, but Barker never got over her. And while he continues to honor her memories by doing right by her, it is evident he never could move past her death.
Over the years, the show host has admitted to being involved in public and private affairs, but none of them culminated into anything long-lasting. He never wanted anything more than a dalliance.
TV game show host Bob Barker reacts to a crowd greeting him as he arrives for the unveiling of a mural in his honor at CBS Television City on June 12, 2003, in Los Angeles, California | Source: Getty Images
He shared that while many men in his position would have long remarried a second or even a third wife, he never felt the need to because Gideon had been the only one for him. He told Esquire:
“In my case, I had my marriage, and she was the love of my life.”
The pair had been together since they were teenagers, and Barker only felt there should be one Mrs. Bob Barker. He explained why he chose to remain unmarried long after Gideon died: “I never had any inclination to marry. She was my wife.”
Game show host Bob Barker attends the Animal Defenders International gala on October 13, 2012 in Hollywood, California | Source: Getty Images
It has been 40 years since Gideon’s demise, but Barker has not shunned any of his wife’s memories. On the 36th anniversary of her death, the TV icon paid tribute to his wife when he visited her gravesite at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles with a bouquet of daisies.
Photographs from the 20-minute intimate moment showed Barker laying down a batch of daisies on Gideon’s grave before cleaning the headstone. He then sat on the tombstone for a short while before heading out. From that moment, it became clear that Barker still remembers his wife and misses their life together.
The TV star has lived a fulfilled life with a successful career and a marriage that was unfortunately cut too short. Even so, life has not been without its unfair share of death scares.
On October 20, 2015, Barker tripped and fell on a sidewalk near his Los Angeles home. He was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he received stitches for an injured forehead and was released; he also hurt his left knee.
Then two years later, he slipped in his bathroom at home. His maid drove him to the emergency room, where he was checked and released. His representative said it was not as severe as his earlier fall. At 98, Barker has outlived many of his friends, and it appears he is not slowing down.