Bob Barker‘s road to retirement is passing through prime time.
The legendary daytime game-show host won’t tape his last “Price Is Right” episode until June 6. But CBS will honor him this week with a pair of prime-time specials celebrating his five decades on television (Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m.).
Barker, 83, says he picked “just the right time” to say goodbye to the cameras.
“I do not have any regrets about retiring,” he says “Isn’t that strange? I expected to have second thoughts.”
He started his national television career in 1956 as host of “Truth or Consequences.” The CBS specials feature footage of a black-haired Barker cajoling contestants through tricycle races and flapjack-flipping contests.
There are also clips of Barker’s appearance as a “cowboy Romeo” on “Bonanza” and memorable moments from past “Price Is Right” seasons, including a montage of overexcited contestants falling down and various men and women who’ve kissed and hugged the host.
Then there’s a photo of the fitness buff jogging shirtless on a Biloxi, Miss., beach.
“When I saw that picture, I said, ‘Get it out in every city in the country,’ ” Barker recalls. “I said, ‘I’ve never looked that good before,and I’ll never look that good again.’ “
Barker said he’s looking forward to resuming his daily exercise regimen in retirement.
“I’ve been so busy here lately that I’ve had to stop even working out. I hate that,” he says.
He also plans to travel with his brother and continue working with his animal-welfare charity, the DJ&T Foundation.
Named for his late wife, Dorothy Jo, and his mother, Matilda (“Everybody called her Tilly,” he explains), the organization provides grants for spay and neuter services nationwide.
An overflow of fans turned out when the two Barker specials were taped last month. Many wore customized T-shirts commemorating their favorite host’s reign.
One read: “T-shirt: $5. Plane ticket: $500. Last chance to see Bob: Priceless.”
Roger Dobkowitz, a 35-year “Price Is Right” producer, says he’s in “total denial” about Barker’s retirement.
“What you see on stage is what he is backstage,” Dobkowitz adds, calling the longtime host “a wonderful human being” and “a great showman.”
Barker is coy when asked how the show will change without him.
” ‘The Price Is Right’ will not continue,” he jokes. “In fact, when I retire, all of television is going to end. There will be no more television. You can just put potted plants in those sets.”
His replacement, still to be picked, is expected to start in September.
In the meantime, Barker says he’s “absolutely delighted” with the network tribute.
“For them to celebrate my 50 years on television was just a wonderful climax to the whole thing for me,” he says.
“It was fun, fun, fun, wasn’t it?”
The birthday bunch
Singer-bassist Jack Bruce (Cream) is 64. Movie producer George Lucas is 63. Musician David Byrne (Talking Heads) is 55. Director Robert Zemeckis is 55. Actor Tim Roth is 46. “Singer” Fabrice Morvan (Milli Vanilli) is 41. Actress Cate Blanchett is 38. Director Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation”) is 36. Actress Amber Tamblyn (“Joan of Arcadia”) is 24.