Following the death of TV icon Bob Barker, ET is taking a closer look at two of the most important women in his life.

Bob found love at a very young age, when at 15 he met Dorothy Jo Gideon. They were inseparable and married for 35 years, until her death in 1981. Two years later, he started dating Nancy Burnet, and they were together until his death on Saturday in Los Angeles. He was 99.

Nancy released a statement to ET following the news of Bob’s death.

“I am so proud of the trailblazing work Barker and I did together to expose the cruelty to animals in the entertainment industry and including working to improve the plight of abused and exploited animals in the United States and internationally,” Nancy shared. ” We were great friends over these 40 years. He will be missed.”

Nancy has overseen Bob’s care and is responsible for keeping the TV legend healthy for years. She is also the co-executor of his estate. In honor of Bob’s long-lasting relationships, ET takes a look back at his two love stories.

Bob met Dorothy in high school

Bob and Dorothy met at Cathedral High School in Springfield, Missouri. By all accounts, Bob was a new student there when he asked her out to an Ella Fitzgerald concert. He was 15 at the time, and their love endured beyond their teenage phase.

Bob was on leave from the military (he was in the U.S. Navy training to be a fighter pilot during World War II) when he and Dorothy eloped on January 12, 1945. Bob told Esquire he was 21 and Dorothy was 20 when they tied the knot.

Bob Barker with Dorothy Jo Gideon.Getty

“She was with me all the time until she died,” Bob told Esquire in 2007. “For some men, maybe a second or third marriage would work out fine. In my case, I had my marriage and she was the love of my life.”

Reflecting on their life together, Barker told Esquire he had no regrets when it came to not having children.

“We didn’t have time for children. I don’t regret it, not when so many of my friends are having so much trouble with their children,” he said at the time. “I have 13 ducks, and that’s a lot of work.”

Dorothy inspired him to be a champion for animal rights

Bob told Good Morning America in 2009 that his lifelong commitment to animals was born out of witnessing Dorothy’s love and care for all animals.

“She was ahead of her time. She really was. She stopped wearing fur coats before anyone was stopping,” Bob said at the time. “She became a vegetarian before people were becoming vegetarian. And I gradually did the same thing with her.”


“My wife, Dorothy Jo, preceded me in becoming a vegetarian,” he once told the Vegetarian Times (via People) in 2012. “She fixed beautiful dishes that I ate. Gradually, I became a vegetarian too. I owe it to her, and I thank her for it, because I think it has really improved my life. I am a staunch believer in it.”

Bob also told Esquire, “I don’t think I would have worked as long as I did had I not been a vegetarian. I’ve never objected to the adulation. When someone approaches me, I am complimented. Everyone in TV and the movies should remember where they would be without those people. Which ditch would they be digging?”

In 1979, Bob began the tradition of signing off of The Price Is Right with his trademark phrase, “This is Bob Barker reminding you to help control the pet population — have your pets spayed or neutered.”

Dorothy died of lung cancer

According to People, Dorothy, a heavy smoker, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1981. She died six months later at 57. Bob’s half-brother, Kent Valandra, told the magazine in 1999 that Bob “went into this deep depression and was a totally different person for two or three years.”

Bob told People in 1999 he’ll “never marry again,” while adding that “Dorothy Jo was the love of my life.”

Bob would go on to establish the since-defunct DJ&T Foundation in 1995 to honor Dorothy Jo and his late mother, Matilda “Tilly” Valandra, both of whom had an immense love for animals. For more than three decades, the foundation funded clinics and voucher programs across the country to help animal lovers do their part in controlling animal overpopulation.

Bob Barker with Nancy Burnet in Hollywood on October 13, 2012.Getty

Bob and Nancy meet in 1983

FOX News reported that they met in March 1983 at an animal adoption event. Bob was co-hosting the event. Despite his success with The Price Is Right, Nancy didn’t know much about Bob or that he was a hugely successful TV host.

The outlet reported she became interested in Bob when she found out about his mission to control animal overpopulation with his spay-neuter campaign. Their shared love for animal rights soon strengthened their bond, and love was born.

Animal advocacy was their passion

Nancy also told FOX News in December 2022 that one of her favorite memories with Bob was taking up animal advocacy even when they traveled on vacation.

“Just about everywhere we ever traveled, we became involved in some animal issue or something,” she said.

In fact, there was that one time, during a visit to the Cayman Islands, when the couple organized a protest because a circus was coming to town.

Bob Barker and Nancy Burnet in Toronto on October 21, 2013.Getty

“They were happy to see us leave Cayman,” she recalled laughing.

Nancy also recalled calling animal control while on the Hawaiian island of Kauai after they found an injured Pitbull begging for food.

Nancy shares one of Bob’s favorite Price Is Right moments

One of those moments included Vanna White before she was Vanna White. As Nancy tells it, Vanna appeared on The Price Is Right in June 1980 and Bob got a kick out of watching Vanna’s performance.

“Even before she had Wheel of Fortune, she was a contestant on The Price Is Right,” Burnet recalled. “She kept looking in the monitor. And he was funny. He was very direct. And he said something about paying more attention and to stop looking at herself in the monitor.”

Vanna, of course, would become a game show icon herself after joining Wheel of Fortune in 1982.

Bob’s final message to fans

When asked what message Bob would send to fans during the December 2022 interview with FOX News, Nancy didn’t skip a beat.

“Remember to have your pets spayed or neutered,” she said. “I hope the day will come when people say, ‘What do you mean by that?’ Unfortunately, it’s still timely.”

Bob is survived by his half-brother, Kent and half-nephews Robert Valandra and Chip Valandra and half-niece Vickie Valandra Kelly.

Bob proposed to Nancy several times — why she always said no

Bob had marriage on the table for him and Nancy, but Nancy didn’t want it.

In a statement to ET, Bob’s publicist, Roger Neal, admitted that the host asked his longtime love to marry him multiple times. “Bob actually asked Nancy to marry him several times, she said no,” Neal told ET. “She was fine with the way things were. She loved being his companion, but he did want to marry her.”

Neal added, “They never lived together. They had separate residences,” Neal said. “I think if he ever contemplated marriage again it would’ve been with Nancy for sure. I know he loved her. I know that she cared deeply for him.”

Nancy was responsible for making sure that Bob had around the clock care during the later years of his life.

“I can’t stress enough the great care that Nancy took of him. It was around the clock,” Neal said. “The fact that he got to stay in his home — the same house since the 1950s — to be able to live there his whole adult life and be able to be at home when he passed, I think it was very fortunate.”

Neal continued, “The last five years of his life she was completely devoted to making sure that his healthcare, that his care on a daily, around-the-clock basis, was the top,” he adds. “In my opinion, she is a saint for having done that. I don’t think anybody could have done the job she’s done. I think she was the absolute best person to take care of him.”


Bob Barker’s Longtime Girlfriend Nancy Burnet Reacts to His Death

Bob Barker Dead at 99: Adam Sandler, Drew Carey and More React

Bob Barker’s Funeral Plans and Where He’ll be Laid to Rest Revealed



Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: