Bob Barker may have retired in 2007 after a 50-year stint on TV — including 35 years on “The Price is Right” — but the 87-year-old personality says he’s been so busy, “I joke that I need to go back into television to get some rest.” In fact, Barker’s tireless activities on behalf of animal rights have now earned him the designation of Honorary Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.
“It’s an absolutely breathtaking experience,” he says. “I received an announcement from Dr. Andrew Linzey, the founder and director. Among people involved in animal rights, he is a most respected man. He has written 15-20 books that have been very helpful in the effort to help animals, and he is also a theology professor at Oxford,” Barker reports.
He has been informed that there have only been six other honorary fellows named by the Centre and they include Nobel laureates, philanthropists and academicians. “I was the first one in the entertainment field.
“When I read the complimentary things that DR. Linzey had said about my accomplishments on behalf of animals, I was actually on the verge of tears,” Barker adds. Linzey, the sometimes-controversial Anglican priest, theologian, and animal activist, cited Barker’s key role in propelling animal rights from being a marginal issue into the academic mainstream, which he deemed “a colossal achievement.”
While Barker’s fans are certainly aware of his devotion to animal causes, the extent of his commitment may come as a surprise. Barker has set up endowments for the study of animal law at Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Northwestern, Georgetown, Columbia, Duke, and the University of Virginia — in addition to establishing the Dorothy Jo Barker Chair for the Study of Animal Rights, named for his late wife, at Drury University in Springfield, MO, their alma mater. With his new Oxford ties, it’s a strong possibility that he’ll be adding the ancient British institution to his list of endowment recipients.
As for when he’ll — ahem — come on down to visit Dr. Linzey and his colleages in the U.K., Barker says he has no current plans to cross the pond, but would like to make the trip at some point.
With 15 Emmys as a host, 14 as a producer and induction into the TV Hall of Fame already to his credit, how does the Oxford Centre honor rank?
“It’s right with them, among the top of the list,” he says.
MEANWHILE: Barker tells us he still tunes in to “The Price is Right” on occasion. “I certainly did turn it on when I learned that Drew Carey had lost 90 pounds. He was slim and wearing a very sharp suit and bow tie and looked great.”