Barker announces retirement from long-running gamer

Contestants will still come on down, Plinko chips will still bounce off course, and showcase showdowns will still offer a brand NEW CAR!

But legendary gameshow host Bob Barker announced Tuesday that he’ll soon retire from “The Price is Right.”

Barker’s decision to end his run in June comes as the host celebrates his 35th anniversary as host of “Price” and his 50th year on TV. Barker told Daily Variety that he decided that those dual milestones were the perfect moment to sign off for good.

“I’ve been on national TV for half a century — that seems like the appropriate time to do it,” he said. “I’ve been so busy for so long I look forward to being bored … but to get up one morning and not do a show, I’m not sure how I’ll be able to do that.”

Barker has hosted virtually every episode of “Price” (save a handful he missed in the mid-1970s due to illness) since the current version bowed on CBS in 1972.

Back then, daytime gameshows were a broadcast network staple. Barker outlasted them all — his show is now the only ayem gamer on any of the networks, and is the second-longest-running gameshow (behind only “Sabado Gigante” on Univision) of all time.

CBS had already been working on a primetime special in honor of Barker’s long run as a gameshow host; that event will now be rebilled as a farewell tribute.

“We knew this day would come, but that doesn’t make it any easier,” said CBS CEO Leslie Moonves. “Bob Barker is a daytime legend, an entertainment icon … His contribution and loyalty to this network is immeasurable.”

A network spokesman said the show would continue, and that it was “premature” to discuss transition plans on “Price,” which is owned by FremantleMedia.

Barker, who serves as an exec producer on “Price,” hopes CBS and Fremantle resist the temptation to revamp the show after he leaves.

“If they do that, I’m afraid they could destroy a wonderful production,” said Barker, who hopes the show keeps longtime “Price” producer Roger Dobkowitz in charge.

“Price” has already been forced to switch announcers three times during its run, following the deaths of Johnny Olson and Rod Roddy. (Rich Fields now serves as announcer on the show.)

Barker had been hosting “Truth or Consequences” since 1956 when “The Price is Right” came along; he handled “TorC” duties for a total of 18 years.

The host has won 17 Emmy awards. His appearance in the 1996 Adam Sandler movie “Happy Gilmore” — which earned Barker an MTV Movie Award — turned him into a cult icon for younger viewers.

Barker also is known for his animal rights activism, and signs off each edition of “Price” with a plea for viewers to spay or neuter their pets.

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