A Toast to Bob Barker

barker-beauties.jpgDid I forget to send my good wishes to Bob Barker, who announced his June 2007 retirement last week? The link is to a piece in Slate, extolling him as the “last gentleman” of daytime TV.

Bob Barker, a host who projects cool control and avuncular warmth at once, is now in his 83rd year on Earth, and his 35th presiding over this twinkling heaven. An unfailingly graceful screen presence, Barker announced this week that he would hang up his microphone—a natty corded model with a distinctively slender, and mildly kinky, silhouette—next June. A notable chunk of his core audience has retirement on the mind, too, if the commercials are any guide: “Life begins at 65…” “Free mobility consultation…” “What’s the Beano doing out?” But the show, now as ever, is fun for all ages—snowbound tweens, stoned collegians, hausfraus in want of tender stimulation.

Yesterday, in a gray one-button suit and a royal-blue French-cuffed shirt, Barker looked like James A. Baker III at an Ocean’s Eleven tryout. Barker’s Beauties were dreamy in knee-length button-front dresses of a red somewhere between cardinal and Chianti; a video artist could do worse than to create a loop endlessly extending the moment in which two of them, coiffed like Douglas Sirk heroines, demo’d a pingpong table (actual retail price: $578).

I, too, have fond memories of Barker, going back to my 60s childhood, and I wrote about them here. From that post, I’ll repeat one my favorite bits of found video on YouTube — Bob Barker almost losing his cool at a desperately dense contestant. En-joy! Joy! Joy? Joy???

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