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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bob Barker, Come On Down!

There are legends, and then there are legends. December 12 is the birthday of two major legends in their respective fields.
(sinatra with the love of his life, ava gardner)
Frank Sinatra, winner of 13 Grammy Awards, including three for Album of the Year, is arguably the greatest pop vocalist of all time. There are many other pretenders to the throne: Elvis, Dylan, Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Roy Orbison, Sam Cooke, etc., but for sheer popularity over a long time span plus real technical skill, not forgetting the gorgeous sound of that voice, it would be hard for anyone to take Sinatra from the top of that list. Oh, and in addition to that little singing thing he did, he also found time to become a major film actor, even winning an Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1954 for "From Here to Eternity". Sinatra died in 1998; today would have been his 95th birthday.
The other legend celebrating his 87th birthday today, (he's still with us!), is t.v. performer Bob Barker. Before his retirement in 2009, Barker spent an astounding 53 years on television. He's best known for hosting two game shows, "Truth or Consequences" from 1956 to 1974, and "The Price is Right" from 1972 to 2009. But like Sinatra, it's not so much the quantity of Barker's work which puts him at the top of any list in his profession, but the quality. Barker might have "only" been a game show host, but he was so damn good at it. Every single day that he was on t.v., he was always enthusiastic, he was always likable, he was smart, savvy, witty, funny and just so damn charming. We doubt that the guy ever had an "off" day on camera. You've heard the old phrase, "It doesn't matter what you do; if you want to be a garbage collector, be the best garbage collector in the business", well, that phrase certainly applies to Bob Barker. Many in the t.v. industry will always smirk at game show hosts, but he was the best game show host we'll ever see. But the real genius of Bob Barker is that his talent transcended being a game show host, he was the consummate television performer. He was so good in front of the camera that he was one of a handful of people in the 1950's who literally defined how one should perform in the new medium of television. In other words, he set the gold standard in his profession, and everyone in t.v. that has followed him has tried to meet his standard.

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