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The Price Is Wrong

A look back at Bob Barker’s one demand for his iconic ‘Happy Gilmore’ cameo

August 28, 2023
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Very few people have had a better life than Bob Barker. The quintessential gameshow host became a daytime (and sick from school) staple for 35 years while also being a committed animal rights activist. He passed away on Saturday at 99 years old peacefully at his home of natural causes, according to TMZ, and even left behind a perfect bit: He nearly made it to a dollar without going over.

Of course, Barker had one of the most celebrated cameos in film history with Happy Gilmore, in which he went toe-to-toe comedy-wise and fisticuffs-wise with Adam Sandler. The celebrity pro-am fight scene is one of the most quoted and praised sequences from Sandler’s heralded filmography, and it never would’ve worked without Barker delightfully playing the heel.

But here's the best part: Before joining the movie, Barker made sure that he would win the fight against Sandler before taking the role. “Someone from his office approached me and said that they wanted to do this fight scene in this picture,” Barker recalled in a CBS interview. “I said, ‘Well, who wins the fight?’ And they said, ‘You! You win the fight.’ I said, ‘I’ll do the picture.’”

Excited to beat up Sandler, Bob Barker even insisted that he do his own stunts. “‘I said, 'Wait a minute ... I know how to fight.' I said, 'I want to do the fight scenes. I want to win the fight.'"

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The fight wasn’t just a hit at the time but has become an iconic comedy moment from the late 20th century. It allowed Barker to show a different side to himself and play into the nice guy character that he had fostered as a host, according to Happy Gilmore director Dennis Dugan.

"He was completely game for it, he got the joke," Dugan told Cracked. "But he was totally up for it. Also, he'd studied martial arts as a hobby forever, so, even though he was about 70, he really could kick ass."

“We initially wrote it for Ed McMahon,” Sandler told Collider earlier this year. “Ed McMahon said he was busy and we were like, imagine if Bob Barker did it, he’ll never do it. Next thing you know, Bob Barker, whose neighbor was Chuck Norris at the time, and Chuck and Bob used to spar, and Bob was like, ‘Yeah, if I get to fight, if I get to throw punches, I’m doing it.’”