History of The Price is Right
How to see The Price is Right in
A Salute to Game Shows
History of The Price is Right
The Price is Right began on November 26, 1956 on NBC.
That's right - NBC, not CBS. Way back then, Bill Cullen was the host of The
Price is Right, and Don Pardo (and later Johnny Gilbert when the show moved to ABC)
was the announcer. Back then, the show was made in New York City. But, the
game still was about pricing merchandise items, and being the closest one to the
manufacturer's suggested retail price of the item without going over was still the object
of the game.
In the 50's version, there were two kinds of "Contestants'
Row"-style bids. The first one was like today's Contestants' Row, where
each person gets one bid on getting as close to the actual retail price without going
over. The other style of bidding was "open bidding", where each contestant
bid, and then the next bid, etc., etc., etc., until someone froze the bidding, believing
that the next guess would put them over.
On this version, the person who won the most money came back on the
next day's show.
A weekly occurrence on this version of The Price is Right was
a home viewer contest. In that, home viewers mailed in their bid on a showcase of
While Bill Cullen was hosting, there were a lot of guest hosts here and
there, hosting for some reason or another. These guest hosts were Jack Clark, Bob
Kennedy, Johnny Gilbert, Sonny Fox, Sam Levenson, Merv Griffin, Robert Q. Lewis, Jack
Narz, Arlene Francis, and Don Pardo. (Note: When Robert Q. Lewis was guest hosting
once, Bill Cullen actually played the game)
The Price is Right moved to ABC from NBC in September 1963.
With this move, they introduced a weekly celebrity guest, who played for home
viewers or members of the studio audience. On September 3, 1965, The Price is
Right went off the air, being replaced by a talk show called The Young Set.
The Price is Right made a successful return to television on
CBS on September 4, 1972. This version was completely overhauled, but the emphasis
still remained on pricing merchandise items. In this version, Bob Barker hosted the
show, and Johnny Olson was the announcer (after Johnny Olson's death, Rod Roddy became the
announcer). There was also another edition of this version that way syndicated that
ran in the evenings once a week. This was hosted by Dennis James.
This version of The Price is Right is the version that you can
still catch at 11 AM Eastern, 10 AM Central. However, originally, the show was only
a half hour. Then, you had three pricing games, and the top two winners went
to the showcase. On November 3, 1975, The Price is Right became a
full hour - in other words, "The Fabulous 60-Minute Price is Right". This
is also when the showcase showdown with its big wheel was added.
On September 9, 1985, and running until September 5, 1986, The
Price is Right lived again in syndication, this time every day. This was
essentially Bob Barker's daytime version in its original format, with Tom Kennedy as host.
No showcase showdowns, and a half hour long.
The Price is Right was revived in syndication for a third time
with The New Price is Right on September 12, 1994. It featured Doug
Davidson (from The Young and the Restless) as host, and Burton Richardson from Arsenio
Hall as the announcer. The set was very modernized, and the format changed.
In this version, there was no contestants' row. The contestants were called
directly out of the audience just like on the regular show, but went straight up to the
stage to play a pricing game.
Since this was a half-hour show, there were only three games, thus
three contestants. Since there was only one showcase, only one contestant
could play. In this version, the Showcase Showdown round was called "The Price Was
Right". It featured an old commercial, and people had to guess what the
price was for those items. The nearest one wins. On some episodes, they did
use the wheel. It is believed that they used the wheel on these episodes only
because they didn't have enough material for "The Price Was Right".
The showcase for this version was much like "Range Game".
The contestant stopped the range when he or she believed that the price of the
showcase was in the range.
This version of The Price is Right ended January 27, 1995.
While all this was going on, Bob Barker's Price is Right kept
on going. In 1998, The Price is Right celebrated its 5,000th show.
On the 5,000th show, it was announced that CBS Television City's Studio 33 would be
renamed "The Bob Barker Studio".
The Price is Right is the longest-running game show in TV
history, and we hope to see it for many, many more years.
A Salute to Game Shows © 1999-2001 Ben F. Schumin,
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