Back in the day before networks would dominate daytime programing with an endless barrage of talk shows (that now all seem to be made up of groups of people sitting around tables and gossiping), morning and afternoon television would consist of a myriad of game shows and daytime soaps.
These shows would dominate daytime programming for so long that they would become synonymous with ‘daytime television’ for generations of viewers. If you were home sick it was the only stuff on you could find to watch.
Some of those soaps felt they had been on the air forever. A few seemed to have run for acouple centuries in some capacity. I think a few started out as cave paintings.
As the daytime television landscape changed, most of these game shows and soaps would gradually fade away and now their reruns idly reside on The Game Show Network, The Soap Opera Network or some streamer. It seems any program can find a home today.
One of the most popular and enduring daytime programs would be The Price Is Right. An hour-long game show that would consist of contestants to “come on down” and guess the prices of ordinary household products.
Over forty years after its debut the show is still on the air. But The Price Is Right golden years were when it was hosted by Bob Barker and he had a team of models to help feature the products to viewers. These models would become known as ‘Barker’s Beauties’.
Everyday, Barker would be surrounded by this trio of lovely ladies whose main contribution to the show was to respectfully point to products, help do the grunt work with the pricing games – such as flipping carboard signs around – and keep up with an ever-changing wardrobe throughout the show.
Like with any great team there has been a continual change of players through the years, but the real Hall of Fame ladies that made up Barker’s Beauties were the three models – Janice Pennington, Dian Parkinson and Holly Hallstrom.
They would help Barker with the games from the mid-70’s up to the 90’s and one even longer. From there the trio began to get broken up, all leaving the show having very little love for Bob. As a result The Tower of Barker started to crash to the ground. More on that in a bit.
They were attractive gals who most of the time upstaged the products you were meant to be focusing on. It wasn’t always easy to get your gears winding about the retail price of a bottle of Palmolive dish detergent when there was a hot babe standing next to it!
I’d venture a guess that Barker and the shows producers knew exactly what they were doing with their ‘Beauties’, what their contribution to the show was and the tantalizing allure they had on its viewers.
They were essentially eye-candy and no one seemed to have any kind of problem with that or tried to pretend they were something different. Their function was to look pretty and point to prizes. In the late 70’s and througout the 80’s it didn’t seem to bother anyone that this innocent price guessing game show was objectifying women in this manner. Everyone just rolled with it.
Plus, we have to remember the time when The Price Is Right and Barker’s Beauties enjoyed it’s most popular years and was in its heyday. This was a time when most people only had three television stations to watch. There wasn’t easy access to porn and nudie magazines were something sold in the back of seedy little stores. So to most young kids, – and even to their fathers – seeing a sexy woman stand in front of a camera seductively rubbing a grandfather clock was nirvana.
And this was being shown in the middle of the day! This was programming for the whole family. You could always say you were staring so intensely at the tv screen because you were really trying to figure out the price of this garbage! In reality you were dreaming about how great it would be to have a jello wrestling match with the Beauties.
With the help of the popularity of the show, Barker’s Beauties became one the most recognizable group of gals on television. They wouldn’t reach the heights of stardom as Wheel of Fortune’s Vanna White and the frenzy of Vanna-Mania in the 1980s, but they became quite popular pretty faces in the game show world. And they didn’t even have to release a sex tape or embarrass themselves on some reality show. They were the daytime equivalent of Charlie’s Angels.
The old Price Is Right is enjoying something of a renaissance in recent years thanks to PlutoTV, which airs ‘The Barker Era’ nonstop 24-hours-a-day! They also run newer episodes with host Drew Carey, but I think fans have much more fun watching the older classic version and marveling at the prices that we paid for floor cleaner and microwaves.
So who were this beautiful trio of women?
Pennington was one of the original Barker Beauties and served as the show’s longest running model. She joined the show from the start in 1972 when it was billed as ‘The New Price Is Right’. At age 30, Pennington was one of the two featured models with Anitra Ford.
When I was old enough to get around to experiencing the show I always viewed Pennington as the ‘Mom Model’. She was obviously older than the two other girls and seemed to be the classier and more mature of the bunch.
I always had her pegged as the leader of the trio. She was the no-nonsense worker. She did her job and never tried to upstage the products or Bob. She would dutifully hand Barker his ridiculously long microphone at the beginning of every show for twenty-nine years.
A year before landing her gig at The Price Is Right, Pennington was Playboy’s Playmate of the Month in May 1971.
I would imagine her Playboy appearance helped land her the slot on this gameshow. It certainly couldn’t have hurt. Just looking at her photos one could see she was attractive….and I’m sure she could point to products. There might have been some concern over how she looked with clothing on, but that seemed like a minor problem to overcome. She seemed like an ideal candidate!
Had I seen Pennington back during this time she could have easily been my favorite Beauty, but I wasn’t treated to seeing the early 70’s version of her on the show. I never even knew about her Playboy layout until years later and when I discovered she posed nude I was shocked! ‘Janice? No she would never do that!’. Luckily she did and we can admire her pictorial today.
During most of her run on The Price Is Right Pennington seemed to have the least amount of problems with Bob and the show. Heck, she worked there for twenty-nine years so things couldn’t have been too bad.
Pennington’s longevity on the show is impressive. She went to get lengths to maintain a youthful appearance and to look her best when flipping price signs and showing grandfather clocks. She told the L.A. Times in 2000:
“I’ve never gone in and had a head-to-toe sort of thing,” says the model, explaining that the show’s year-round taping schedule–with only a six-week summertime hiatus, prevented any radical overhauls. “What I’ve done is gone in and had, like, the bags taken care of under my eyes. I’ve had little sections done–a little brow lift or a little something lipoed from under my chin. When I had a real hard time losing weight, I had some lipo on my body. I’ll go in every week for facials. And I go to the dermatologist and get light peels. It’s been about maintaining myself, but it’s not as easy to maintain your weight as your body gets older and goes through changes.”
Pennington had tragedy in her personal life. She married her second husband German mountain climber Friedrich “Fritz” Stammberger in 1974. A few months later, he would go off on an alleged expedition of Tirich Mir in Pakistan in the area where the borders of Russia, Afghanistan and Pakistan converge. Stammberger would ultimately would go missing and never be heard from again.
Pennington began years of searching for Stammberger and his whereabouts. She would claim the CIA informed her that her search for her husband compromised national security.
In 1984, when Stammberger would be officially declared dead, Pennington married Carlos de Abreu, who with him, continued to find answers to what became of Fritz. They ultimately discovered some hazy information that suggested Fritz was a spy for the CIA.
In 1994 she wrote a book about her late husband and her search for him. Husband, Lover, Spy: A True Story was released. The autobiographical book was described as – ‘The dramatic story of “The Price is Right” hostess Janice Pennington’s desperate search for her missing husband. Betrayed by friends and abandoned by the government, she is forced to embark on a dangerous journey on which she discovers the shocking truth. Her quest takes her from Los Angeles to the Kremlin in Russia, Mozambique, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.’
Pennington was seriously injured due to an accident on the show in 1988 when a camera knocked her unconscious and she fell off stage and into contestants row.
She recovered, but surgery resulted in leaving her with scars and one of her shoulders slightly shorter than the other. Her days of modeling swimsuits and off the shoulder dresses were over after that. Yet, she would still outlast her fellow Beauties, when she finally left the show in 2000 under some ‘mysterious circumstances’.
After handing Barker his microphone at the start of more than 6,000 shows, Pennington, was ‘dismissed’ immediately after the taping of the show on October 19, 2000.
No mention of her departure was announced on the show and Barker, who at that time was also the shows executive producer, never spoke to her.
Pennington told the Los Angeles Times at the time, “He never said a word. My manager called Barker the next day and left a message, but he never returned our call.”
Barker did he did not return the call until only after Pennington signed a settlement saying he was not allowed to discuss details of her dismissal by Pearson Television, the production company that had assumed ownership of the show on that fateful day of October 19, 2000.
Barker laid the decision to let both ladies go at Pearson’s feet and said he wasn’t responsible in any way for their dismissal. He explained, “[Pearson] did not want me to become involved in any way. But on the very day Janice signed the agreement I left a message on her answering machine and told her that I wanted to explain why I had not called even sooner. And she has not returned my call.”
Despite looking like such a happy game show family to viewers, Pennington said her and Barker had barely spoken since previous summer. Ten-year Barker’s Beauty Kathleen Bradley was also dismissed on the same day as Pennington and blamed Barker for their firings.
“Both Pennington and Bradley were never given specific reasons for their dismissals. Syd Vinnedge, the Pearson senior Vice President who informed the women they were no loner needed, would only characterize the changes as part of a long-term plan the company has to revitalize the show.” said the L.A. Times.
The popular belief is that the then fifty-eight year old Pennington was fired to make room for younger models to attract a younger audience. Along with it being Barker’s way of retaliating against Pennington for testifying in a wrongful termination suit brought on by Hallstrom against Barker.
Bradley said, “Bottom line, it’s retaliation” and called Barker “a lonely soul”.
Pennington said that Barker, “basically stopped talking to me after the deposition that I gave in July. After that it was never the same. We spoke on the air, but that was basically it.”
Barker countered her account saying, “I certainly didn’t stop talking with [Janice]. Any time I saw her I told her ‘hello’ or told her how good she looked. He also took issue with the term of Janice being ‘fired’ saying, “Janice was not fired; she was never hired.”
Barker was technically correct. Viewers might not have been aware that throughout their long runs on The Price Is Right, Barker’s Beauties never had any kind of employment contracts to appear on the show. Every week they would be ‘rehired’ on a week-to-week basis and paid salaries well below that of other long-running TV personalities.
At the time of her exit, Bradley who had worked for the show for ten years, was being paid $2,000 a week to tape a week’s worth of hourlong episodes. Bradley said, “We were so underpaid for what we did on that show. People think we have so much money.”
As for no on-air goodbyes for Pennington and her being able to give a final wave to Price fans, Barker said that came down to business and legal issues. He explained, “At the time that they left we were not able to say what they were going to do because the Pearson company made what they have described to me as very generous offers to them to join Pearson and participate in an international models special [referred to by different parties as ‘Models Inc.’ or ‘Models of the Year’] they were planning.
Pennington didn’t believe any special would materialize and rejected the offer. Bradley considered it, but remained skeptical about it.
At the time Barker, said they’re sudden exits from the show were unfortunate, but said he would consider inviting them both back on the show for the anniversary special the following year so they could be given a more proper good-bye. Barker said, “Now that [Pearson] has [worked out a settlement] with Janice, I’m sure we’d be happy to blow up the balloons.”
The V.P. of Pearson Vinnedge reiterated that feeling. “…as soon as everybody’s happy [the show will] get Janice and Kathleen and do a real nice send-off; goodbye, we love you and good luck.”
At the time, both Pennington and Bradley didn’t believe that would ever happen. And they were correct, neither one ever retuned to appear on the show.
Barker’s contract was up for renewal by Pearson Television in 2000. There were questions whether he would continue as host or would he step or be pushed aside for the ‘revitalization’ Pearson had plans for the show.
Barker was asked how he would feel if he was dismissed in the same manner as Pennington and Bradley were – very abrupt and without a chance to say goodbye to fans? He said, “It would not concern me in the slightest. I would be grateful for the many years that I’ve had on The Price Is Right and walk away a completely happy man.”
Apparently Pennington signed a settlement forbidding her to discuss the details of her dismissal. Pearson Television and Barker stuck with their story. The supposed ‘Models Show’ never took place. It’s unlikely fans will ever know the true details of exactly what led to Pennington and Bradley being ‘dismissed’ as Barker’s Beauties.
After all this had had gone down, Pennington was asked about her feelings about Barker. She replied very diplomatically, “He’s the best host. He excels at what he does.” When asked about the man that viewers don’t get to see when he’s not in front of a camera holding a microphone and giving away prizes, she answered, “That’s not for me to comment.”
You would never think watching the fun jovial chats between Barker and his Beauties on the show in front of the cameras things were so ugly behind the scenes. But there’s eve juicer stuff to discover.
Parkinson was ‘The Sexy Beauty’. With her blonde hair and toned body, viewers would typically see her sporting a bikini when a trip to Hawaii was up for grabs. She appeared to be the ‘Bad Barker Beauty’.
She was the one you could have the most fun with behind the set and furniture displays. She probably would have won the top slot of being the most popular Barker Beauty for male viewers.
Parkison started her professional modeling career in 1965, when she won the title of Miss District of Columbia USA. She went not to represent DC at the Miss USA pageant, coming in fourth place. She would then be runner-up in the Miss World pageant.
Around this time Parkinson caught the eye of Bob Hope, who hired her to be part of his USO Show where she worked as a model. It was in 1974 when she caught her first acting break appearing in the television movie Jerry as ‘The Girl’. She was also doing some modeling work, In fact, you can also find her as one of the models in the Rigid Tool Calendar of 1975.
Parkinson joined Price in 1975, not soon after Pettington. She seemed to be The Beauty most willing to wear a two-piece bathing suit every show. She would be known as the ‘sexiest’ Beauty. She would also eventually be the one to give Barker his biggest headache.
With Parkinson’s sexy looks and knack for looking great in swimsuits, she quickly became a favorite among the male Price fans on her 18-year-run on the show. parlayed her Price fame into other modeling venues. She would even have her own sexy pin-up posters throughout the 1980s.
That seemed to be the ‘in thing’ for a period of time. Any good looking television star or sexy model would have their own pin-up poster for teens to hang up on their walls. I guess it started with that Farrah poster and it just kept running throughout the eighties. As I remember Parkinson had quite a few different pin-up posters.
No one on daytime television at this time wore a bikini as great as Dian! Just check out this compilation of clips! You forget all about the prizes Johnny Olsen is talking about.
Bikinis when showing off a sauna or a boat on the game show was fine. Parkinson selling her own pin-up posters didn’t ruffle any feathers. It was when Playboy came calling Parkinson with an offer to pose for a layout when concern started to grow for Price producers and for Barker.
Unlike Vanna White who refused an offer to pose in Playboy (and cause its own scandal for White and Wheel of Fortune) Parkinson accepted the proposal. In the December 1991 issue, readers were greeted with Parkinson on the cover of the magazine with the caption ‘The Hottest Number on The Price Is Right, Dian Parkinson. Inside was a layout of her posing au naturale. This was something a Barker Beauty had ever done before!
Parkinson was eager and willing to drop her threads for the magazine and she welcomed the extra…exposure. Not just skin-wise, but also the opportunity to break away from the confines of just being ‘a game show model’.
The first issue featuring her sold so well, Playboy asked her back and in 1993 she did a second cover and layout. She was so popular Playboy even featured her in an exclusive “Newsstand Edition” photo magazine entitled ‘Playboy Presents, Dian Parkinson’.
She also appeared in a VHS Centerfold video, but that used to be part of the package deal with Playboy.
Parkinson’s extracurricular activities away from the Price stage began to make the shows producers and Barker a bit uncomfortable. The Price Is Right was meant to be a light, wholesome show where the whole family could sit and watch together. Posing for centerfolds in Playboy did not align with that image. Many speculated it was Parkinson’s Playboy work that would lead to her leaving Price – and that she wouldn’t be missed.
Have any doubt what a big deal it was for one of Barker’s Beauties posing for Playboy wasn’t a major story? Entertainment Tonight wouldn’t have covered if it wasn’t such hot news, would they?
The classic Price Is Right began its end in 1993 with Parkinson’s exit from the show. She was allowed to say goodbye to the home and studio audience and said she was leaving to ‘pursue other interests’.
It all seemed too convenient and nice for those looking on. At the time tabloid reports were circulating the rumor that Parkinson left because of a nasty feud between her and Pennington. Although the two didn’t get along very well and the show tried not to pair them up and be forced to cooperate at pointing towards bathroom cleansers together, it was not the main reason why Parkinson had left.
A year later Price Is Right fans would find out why. Parkinson was responsible for the most high-profile scandal on The Price Is Right. In 1994 she sued Barker and the show for $8 million, claiming that she had been forced to have sex with Barker in order to keep her job. Barker admitted to having a consensual sexual relationship with Parkinson for a year and a half.
Parkinson’s lawsuit contended Barker began to pressure her into having sex with in 1989, following the death of his wife. Parkinson claimed Barker promised to help advance her career if she gave in to his demands.
It also claimed that Barker had sexually assaulted her in 1990, physically forcing her to have oral sex with him. Parkinson claimed to have filed a report about the incident with the Los Angeles Police Department, but did not follow up on the complaint because of “fear of losing her job”.
She acknowledged that she had sexual intercourse with Barker on “six to eight” occasions following that incident, but maintained that she did so only out of fear of losing her job.
Barker said Parkinson gave no indication she was unhappy with their casual relationship, which he claimed he ended in 1991. It was only a few weeks before her lawsuit was filed he learned of her dissatisfaction with their relationship.
This story was a huge bombshell for the tabloids, who swam all over this story like a sharks in a feeding frenzy. The National Enquirer had an interview with an ‘unnamed friend’ of Parkinson who recounted secondhand that Parkinson told her, “I sacrificed my body to keep my job. I was Bob Barker’s sex slave – and there was nothing I could do about it. Bob laid it on the line – he said that if I wanted to keep my job on the show, I’d have to give him what he wanted.”
As for the reasons Parkinson left Price, she later claimed it wasn’t ‘to pursue other interests’. She said, Barker’s sexual abuse caused her a bleeding ulcer. “…my doctors told me it was the show and possible death – or quit….The only answer was to get away from that monster Bob Barker!”
Barker held a news conference to deny all the accusations. “As God as my witness, I did not force her to do one thing that she did not want to do, sexually or any other way.” He told the The National Enquirer: “I didn’t force Dian Parkinson to have sex. She aggressively pursued ME – and told other people on the set that she would be the next Mrs. Bob Barker.”
While he admitted to the consensual relationship with Parkinson, Barker said their relationship was complicated. “Dian is a user out for financial reward, she flirted with me for years. A long list of people will testify that she was very affectionate with me on the set.
He also said about Parkinson, “She’s come into my dressing room wearing only a robe, and she’d be all over me – sitting on my lap and running her fingers through my hair. My make-up artist and hairdresser would have to ask her to stop so they could do their jobs!”
Barker was adamant that her lawsuit was “frivolous” and the experience has been “humiliating”. “When we go to court, we’re going to prove that these charges are false.”
Just to add even more accusations to this whole sordid mess, there was another theory as to what Parkinson’s motivations were. Some ‘insiders’ believed Parkinson got close to Barker in order to exert influence on him to fire Janice Pennington, who Parkinson considered was her ‘rival’ on the show.
I know, this is all getting a bit crazy. But if you want proof of how big this Price Is Right Scandal Story was, check out Hard Copy covering this scandal!
The wrongful termination suit were soon dismissed, but the sexual harassment charge stayed.
However, despite standing by her claim that then 46-year-old Parkinson was pressured into an intimate relationship with the then 71-year-old Barker, on April 13, 1995 it was reported she was dropping her lawsuit because it was inflicting medical distress on her well-being, including aggravating anemia and other ailments she claimed were brought on by her stressful relationship with Barker. She also lacked insufficient funds to pay for her legal fees.
Parkinson released a statement saying: “Bob Barker has beaten me into submission. My doctor has advised that I am not strong enough to see this thing through.”
The judge fined Parkinson and her lawyers for failing to hand over documents relating to her medical problems and her earnings after she left The Price Is Right. The fine was $2,100.
Barker felt vindicated. Saying that Parkinson filed the lawsuit only after he refused to buy her silence for $8 million. It was said Barker’s attorneys rebuffed three attempts by Parkinson’s lawyers to initiate settlement talks. He also questioned her new claims that she cannot afford to take him to court. “If there were any truth to the outrageous charges she made against me, and if there were any chance she could win money in court she never would have dismissed the lawsuit.”
Parkinson became a spokesperson for the home exercise equipment machine ‘EZ Krunch’. She also made an appearance on the animated talk show Space Ghost: Coast to Coast.
She quickly disappeared from the public eye ever since. In recent years, there have been some false death rumors that Parkinson had passed, but those were untrue. She doesn’t have any social media presence that I can find. So, what she’s been up to and how her life is now, I don’t know. If anyone has any updates on her please feel free to chime in.
Thanks to this first major headline-making scandal, the pristine wholesome image of The Price Is Right started to tarnish. It would be helped further along a few years later by my favorite Barker Beauty.
Three of the Barker Beauties Dian Parkinson, Holly Hailstorm and Kathleen Bradley appearing on The Vicki Lawrence Show in 1993 – this was during much happier times.
The one redhead in the bunch. Holly was undoubtedly my favorite Barker Beauty. She seemed to have more of a bubbly personality than Janice or Dian.
Granted we would rarely have time to get to know their individual personalities throughout the show. The Beauties would spend most of their on-air time pointing to furniture and revealing prices. But in the few instances where they got to speak to the models, Holly was always a standout and her easygoing attitude and smile when she modeled the products won her over for me.
She was funny and had a more bubbly demeanor than the other Beauties. While Janice was business and Dian was sexy, Holly looked to be having a grand old time. And she looked awfully cute to boot! She would be the one I’d take with me if I won the trip on that showcase showdown.
When Anitra Ford left the show in 1977 Holly arrived to fill the vacant slot and would become the final member of the classic Barker Beauties team that we would have until the early 90’s.
Holly became a fan favorite. She was kind of clumsy at times and when things would go wrong it was entertaining to see how she handled it. Usually she was ready to laugh at herself and wasn’t afraid to look silly.
It was always a real treat when she donned some swimwear. That was mainly Dian’s thing who would consistently wear bikinis. So when Holly got into a bathing suit it became a great episode! She usually would wear a one-piece, but still I was all eyes!
I’m not sure if she was ever approached to pose in Playboy, but it didn’t seem something she would do. Holly was the ‘nice girl’. The ‘silly girl’. The ‘girl-next-door-type’
Had she done a pin-up poster I imagine it would have been something somewhat humorous, while she still looked cute as a button.
An amusing clip of Holly getting pranked by her fellow models.
One of the things I most remember from the time I would watch this show was Holly during the closing credits. Since I had such a crush on Holly back then I would just watch to see what she would do as the credits zipped past Barker and his Beauties.
Along with all the waving and smiling everyone did Holly would always hold up a peace sign at the camera. I would begin to start to look for that everytime I watched the show.
I started to suspect that maybe it was a personal message to her mother or someone. Sort of like how Carol Burnett would famously tug on her ear, which began as a secret message to her grandmother.
Could there be a secret message hidden behind Holly flashing the peace sign? I never found out. That would be a fun mystery to unravel. But it was probably just a simple and clear message she wanted to give to viewers.
In 1995 things continued to get ugly for Barker and The Price Is Right. You know, for a show whose main job is to showcase oven cleaners and ugly furniture there sure was a lot of drama going on behind the scenes!
Holly became the second Barker’s Beauty who would be ‘dismissed’ from The Price Is Right. The reason she was given for her dismissal was because she had gained fourteen pounds due to a prescription medication she was taking. When asked by the press why she was ‘dismissed’, Holly said her weight gain was given as the explanation.
When viewers learned of that reason for Holly being fired, it resulted in Barker receiving ‘hate mail’ for the first time in his career.
But Hallstrom didn’t buy it was ONLY her weight gain that Barker and the producers they were unhappy with.
She believed, along with her weight gain, the reason she was given the boot was because she refused to support Barker during Parkinson’s lawsuit and didn’t go along with the stories he had instructed her to say. Holly did not want to go along with that and was subsequently escorted off the stage.
Barker sued Holly for slander, but ended up dropping the suit. Barker was ordered to pay all of Holly’s legal bills. Then Holly countersued Barker for age, weight and medical discrimination, wrongful termination and malicious prosecution.
In a November 2005 interview with Showbiz Tonight she talked about her lawsuit. She explained it was during Parkinson’s lawsuit of sexual harassment when Barker approached her. “Mr. Barker came to me, and he said, ‘I’ve set up interviews and talk shows, and I want you to say specifically that Dian’s lying. And that she’s a liar.”
“And I – I found the whole thing tacky, and I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. And then later on, he asked me to recall his firing of a director differently than it happened. And it was downhill from there.”
After a long prolonged court proceeding finally in 2005 Holly received a multi-million dollar settlement. She allegedly was even offered a higher settlement by Barker, however she would’ve had to agree to not talk about the case. She apparently didn’t like that deal.
In the Showbiz Tonight interview she was asked about the ruling:
“You lost your home. You went bankrupt. Living out of your car at one point. Many people watching this show might think you were nuts. Why did you want to keep going for so long?”
“Well, you know, there – there’s a flaw in our judicial system that allows a powerful or rich defendant to just drag the little person through the courts until he breaks you. And I was determined that was not going to happen to me.”
“They didn’t want you to speak out against Bob Barker.”
“No. And that’s why I refused the larger settlements, because I wanted to retain my right to free speech.“
She started a foundation for people who have been the victim of wrongful and malicious treatment in their workplace but don’t have the funds to fight it.
Obviously, I wasn’t around to witness exactly what happened, but I can’t help but suspect something must of been going on that made Holly so angry and willing to endure such a long struggle to fight against the treatment she received from the show.
During the extended court case Holly had to sell all her possessions and was apparently living out of her car for a stretch, but as she said, “I refused to give up and let that evil old bastard win.”
In case you didn’t pick up on it, Holly’s referring to Bob Barker in that statement.
Plus, with the consistent rocky dismissals of each of the Beauties I’m tempted to say there seemed to be a bit of pattern here and Barker was probably not the great guy he portrayed to his television audience.
Holly ultimately won her lawsuit – and it had major fallout for the show and the shows models.
Pennington and the newest Barker Beauty Kathleen Bradley who arrived in 1990, were both fired after they both ironically testified during Barker’s lost lawsuit against Holly.
Bradley would go on to write a kind of tell-all book about her experiences with The Price Is Right in her 2014 book ‘Backstage At The Price Is Right: Memoirs of a Barker Beauty’.
Could all these beauties just have been troublemakers and Barker was the misunderstood innocent victim? I find that hard to believe. You would think at least one Beauty would have something nice to say about him after all the years they worked together.
In 2011, Barker wrote his own memoir ‘Priceless Memories’. It was his account of his life both on-and-off the camera. None of the four Barker’s Beauties are ever mentioned in it.
In more recent years, The Price Is Right was hit with a more seemingly innocuous scandal. In 2008 a contestant made a perfect bid during the showcase Showdown – something that never happened before in the history of the show. This caused a lot of questions and theories of how someone could have accomplished this feat. The story was covered in the wonderful 2017 documentary Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much. Price Is Right fans should definitely go watch it.
But that incident seems insignificant compared to the scandals that the show faced by the accusations of The Beauties against Barker and the producers.
After Hallstrom left, there had been six women – models and production assistants – who were ‘dismissed’ (there’s that word again) from The Price Is Right by the hands of Barker. Hallstrom refused to let him get away with his actions. Despite her having a lot to lose and she was risking her career, she was the only one to speak up against Barker at the time.
She was unmarried with no children, but was adamant she was going to stand up to “the miserable tyranny at the hands of a mad dictator”.
She’s talking about Barker again.
Whoa. I’m proud of her! I’m glad Holly was always my favorite Barker Beauty!
You can hear a little more from Holly herself after she won her lawsuit against Barker and the show.
As Barker continued to host the show there would be a roster of newer rotating models, some with recognizable names and who would go onto bigger things – Cindy Margolis, Gena Lee Nolin, Nikki Ziering, Claudia Jordan – but none would come close to the popularity and close association to the show as those three original Barker Beauties became.
In 2007, Barker announced his retirement from the show and he was celebrated and heralded as a game show icon. He had become a television institution and received a whole lot of fanfare and acclaim heaped upon him. Not one of the original Barker’s Beauties were part of the festivities.
When asked about his four most famous Beauties during the shows run Barker responded, “They’ve been such a problem. I don’t want to say anything about them. They’re disgusting; I don’t want to mention them.”
I guess he doesn’t like them any more than they like him.
With Drew Carey picking up the hosting duties the models are no longer referred to as ‘Beauties’. That term is viewed as derogatory and sexist today. So they are simply called ‘The Price Is Right Models”. That name sounds awfully boring in comparison doesn’t it?
Despite the politically correct name changed that has been given to the models since Barker left The Price Is Right, the show has still continued to get its fair share of lawsuits from its models, including a pregnancy lawsuit and a sexual harassment lawsuit. I guess the show doesn’t realize just because you change their titles, doesn’t automatically change the conditions and attitudes these women are subjected to. A simple name change isn’t enough.
Or perhaps if they begin calling them The Price is Right Ladies will solve all the problems.
I miss the Beauties and think they got unfairly treated. Ever since the Beauty scandals started up I viewed Barker much differently. Even just recently with the celebration of his ninetieth birthday, I couldn’t help but look at him with narrow eyes thinking. How much of the accusations by the Beauties are true? All that hugging contestants and being so gung-ho for animals welfare by Barker, could he be guilty of this bad behavior he’s been accused of by his female employees?
Today, PlutoTV has a channel devoted solely to The Price Is Right – ‘The Barker Era’. Airing nonstop, you can watch Barker and his Beauties welcome contestants to play all those classic pricing games.
Watching the shows now it seems like such an innocent time. A light daytime gameshow that attracted millions of viewers. But behind the flashing lights and the big wheel, apparently there was a lot of tension that went on behind the scenes.
Barker’s amiable charm might have been a facade he put on for daytime viewers and he wasn’t really that nice of a guy. All those accusations from multiple people, was all of that false??? His Beauties couldn’t all be wrong or all be lying, could they???
On August 26, 2023 Barker died at the age of 99. Tributes and remembrances rained in from game show fans, animal lovers and television watchers. He was honored for being one of the most talented game show hosts in television history and being a part of so many viewers lives hosting The Price Is Right for 35 years.
One Barker’s Beauty who spoke about Barker after his death was Pennington. Who told Entertainment Tonight she won’t likely hold onto any of the bad memories of her time on the show and said, “It’s hard to imagine, but everyday I loved going to work. I really did. The people we worked with, the crew, the cameraman, it was like a family. Especially when you’re there for 29 years. It really is a family.”
Asked what her interactions with Barker after she left the show she said, “After I left the show, he sort of stayed to himself. He did a lot of work with animals. We didn’t see him [anymore]. He was quite private.”
Bradley shared her condolences on her Instagram, saying “Rest in Heavenly Peace to my beloved former boss Bob Barker,” she said “I am so grateful and honored to have spent 10 years on ‘The Price is Right’ as the first African-American model to be one of Barker’s Beauties of the number one Emmy Award winning game show ‘The Price is Right.’
I never heard if any of the other Parkinson and Hallstrom had any comment on Barker’s death. I wouldn’t be surprised if they both decided to stay silent on it But if you know if they had anything to say about him please feel free to comment below.
Let’s end on a happier note. Here’s a fun product mishap involving Holly and a difficult Gibson refrigerator.