Barker himself gave a glowing interview to CBS Mornings in 2013 in which he recalled the cameo that, in its way, changed his career too, not just Sandler’s. “Someone from the Disney office approached me and said they wanted to do this fight scene in this picture,” Barker recalled. “I said, ‘Who wins the fight?’ They said, ‘You win the fight.’ I said ‘I’ll do the picture.'”
From “Happy Gilmore’s” release in 1996 to the end of Barker’s tenure on “The Price is Right” in 2007, Barker recalled that he “didn’t do one show where the audience didn’t want to talk about ‘Happy Gilmore.'” The association between the two maintained as Sandler’s career exploded and Barker settled back into place at CBS. The two reunited several times over the years, memorably re-starting their “feud” in a segment for Jon Stewart’s 2015 autism charity event “Night of Too Many Stars.” In the clip, Sandler and Barker duke it out in a hospital room. Lukewarm soup, defibrillators, and the contents of a bedpan become blunt weapons of battle.
My favorite reunion of the two stars occurred in 2007, when Sandler surprised Barker on stage during the taping of his final episode of “The Price is Right.” The look of pure surprise and excitement on Barker’s face is infectious, and Sandler reads him a poem that concludes with a tongue-in-cheek nod toward Barker’s animal rights activism:
“Bob Barker, Bob Barker,
We’ll always have the memories
of the happiness that you made.
So in honor of your retirement, sir,
I went out and got myself spayed.”
Barker will be dearly missed. Sandler wrote him one last touching tribute to his old nemesis today in honor of his passing, which you can read on his Instagram account.