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For 35 years, Bob Barker was the sophisticated yet friendly celebrity host of The Price Is Right.

After so many decades of watching him guide the action on stage and urge viewers to have their pets neutered or spayed, it seemed pretty easy to say what kind of man he was. But under that polished exterior lurked a surprise or two — and it took a pretty silly movie to give us a glimpse.

Many years with a microphone

Bob Barker
Bob Barker | Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images

Barker was born in 1923 on the Sioux Rosebud Reservation. According to Fascinate, he moved on to serve in the Navy during WWII, although he didn’t see any combat. After the war, he went into radio, hosting a program called The Bob Barker Show from 1950 to 1956. At this point, he got his big break, when producer Ralph Edwards offered him a job hosting a television game show on NBC called Truth or Consequences

Barker stayed with the show for nine years, but in 1972 he took over the microphone that made him famous, as the host of The Price is Right. He spent the next 35 years at the helm of the popular game show.

Over that time he won 19 Emmy Awards and solidified his place in television culture as the handsome, urbane host who ended every show with a call for viewers to spay or neuter their pets. 

But in 1996, he appeared in a movie that shook up the public’s image of him.

Bob Barker: A fight scene in ‘Happy Gilmore’

The Adam Sandler movie Happy Gilmore featured the comic as a down-on-his-luck hockey player with a temper problem. Happy takes up professional golf in a wild attempt to help his grandmother, who is about to lose her house to the IRS. 

Happy becomes a golf sensation, and he enters a tournament. He’s paired with Bob Barker, played by the legend himself, and the situation gets out of hand. The two get in an argument, which devolves into a brawl when Sandler’s character tells Barker, “The price is wrong, b****!” 

You would probably expect Sandler, who was only 33 years old at the time, to easily take down Barker, who was 73. But that’s not how the scene worked out. Barker beats Sandler up, finally knocking him out. 

It’s an iconic scene, in part because no one expected the suave show host to be so violent. But it turns out that there are depths to Barker that most of us didn’t know about. 

A black belt? Trained by WHO?


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Uproxx reports that when Sandler approached Barker with the script for Happy Gilmore, the storyline called for Barker to get the losing end of the fight. He agreed to appear in the movie, but that outcome would have to change. There was no way Barker was going to lose a fistfight. After all, he lived next door to Chuck Norris, who had taught him how to throw a punch. 

“I trained with Chuck,” Barker explained to Sandler. “We trained every night. He helps me with my punches and my kicks, but I have to win this fight.”

Apparently, Barker had trained with his buddy Norris for decades, and he had even earned a black belt in karate. With this kind of background, it’s no wonder that he wasn’t going to let Sandler win a fight. He wouldn’t even allow a stunt double to do his fighting for him during the filming. 

Barker will soon turn 97, so he’s clearly no weakling to have lived this long. He already showed his strength years ago, when he taught a young Sandler what a fight should really look like.