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Mon May 7, 2012
'Price Is Right' Creator Was Inspired By Everyday Life
Originally published on Tue May 8, 2012 7:26 am
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Now to a man whose aim in life was to always keep us guessing.
(SOUNDBITE OF GAME SHOW)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Now you have four chances to pick the right price. Let's pick it out.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: The password is bird.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHIME)
(SOUNDBITE OF GAME SHOW)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: The 1984 in Los Angeles.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Olympics.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: All right. And the place in Anaheim with all the rides, Mickey Mouse.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Disneyland.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: Number One, what is your name, please?
TONY LA RUSSA: My name is Tony La Russa.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: Number Two.
RUSSA: My name is Tony La Russa.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And the name we remember today, the one and only Bob Stewart. He created such classic TV game shows as "To Tell the Truth," the "Pyramid" franchise, "Password" and "The Price is Right." Stewart died on Friday at age 91.
CORNISH: He drew inspiration from everyday life. "To Tell the Truth" came about when Stewart stepped into a crowded elevator and wondered what the people around him did for a living.
BLOCK: The idea for "The Price is Right," his most successful show, can be traced back to 50th Street and 7th Avenue in New York where he was born and raised. In a 1998 interview for the "Archive of American Television," Stewart remembered a store on that corner that auctioned jewelry, silverware, glassware.
BOB STEWART: And I used to stop by there and watch this stuff. And I thought to myself, anybody who pays a nickel more than the retail price has been taken. But anybody who gets it even for a nickel less has got a bargain. And that became, really, the core of "The Price is Right."
(SOUNDBITE OF "THE PRICE IS RIGHT" THEME SONG)
BLOCK: So Stewart pitched the idea to TV producer Mark Goodson.
STEWART: We went back upstairs to his office. And in his office, he had lamps and chairs, and he started calling in all the secretaries to bid on the various things.
CORNISH: "The Price is Right" premiered back in 1956 and was retooled in 1972. That's a lot of canned goods, cars, jet skis, living room sets and yelling loudly at the TV.
STEWART: Once you cause somebody at home to talk to the set aloud, even by himself or herself, then you got a good game show.
CORNISH: And Stewart had many of them. When asked how he wanted to be remembered...
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
STEWART: Remembered - occasionally. I used to ask a question on one of the interview shows we did for game shows, which was: What do you want for your epitaph, you know? And the only thing I could think of is the party's over.
BLOCK: The party may be over, but game show producer Bob Stewart's legacy lives on.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.