Fellow Datagrabbers! I have a special treat for you today. I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Ms. Deb Owen, a former The Price Is Right contestant (and also a DataGrabber fan!). Deb has kindly offered to share her experience of actually being on The Price Is Right with everyone here. Deb appeared at a March 17th, 1975 taping (later aired April 10, 1975). The show was different in some ways from today and hosted by a young Bob Barker… yes I said did say “young”. Here’s an excerpt from our interview:
DG: On behalf of DataGrabber.org, thank you for doing this interview with us today. Thinking about how easy or hard it was to get tickets to the show back in ’75, can you tell us how you got to go to The Price Is Right?
Deb: My grandmother wrote for tickets for herself and a few friends. Only two tickets were sent so she gave them to my brother and me.
DG: Wow! You really lucked out!. Being in the audience is one thing, but can you shed some light on how you managed to become a contestant?
Deb: We stood in line to get into the studio for a long time. During that time “ushers” were walking around talking to everyone. Then, just before we went in a man came around to collect the numbers that were attached to our name tags. He talked to everyone, too. Someone behind me in line had been there several times and said this guy was the producer and the more excited you acted, the more likely you were to be chosen. I believed her and acted like a fool – jumping up and down and telling the guy I thought I might be sick, etc.
DG: That’s awesome! After the “Come ON Doooown!” moment , you got an up close chance to see Bob Barker. Of course, he was only in his 3rd year of hosting the show when you were on it. What was he like?
Deb: His hair was naturally brown! He was very nice… and brave to let so many people kiss him.
DG: No doubt! The year 1975 was an experimental year for the show. This is the year Showcase Showdowns became a part of the show. It also went to a one hour format and briefly had a rainbow-colored showcase wheel spun counter-clockwise. Did you encounter any of these changes during your taping?
Deb: No. The show was still 30 minutes when I was on it. No showdown, no wheel.
DG: Let me ask you the question everyone wants to know…. just how far did you get on the show?
Deb: I was called to “come on down” and the item I bid on was a grandfather clock. I knew it couldn’t be too much because it was daytime and this was the Contestant’s Row item so I think I bid somewhere around $400. Everyone else went way too high so I got to get on stage for the game. I had the “Race Game”. I was wearing new platform shoes so I couldn’t run fast. I ended up only getting one prize – a Dune Cat – but it was enough to get me into the Showcase as the #2 winner.
DG: That’s right, in that format there was no wheel, so the top two winners battled for the The Price Is Right Showcase. Did you get the first or the second Showcase? And what was it?
Deb: The first showcase was “Every Room in the House” and included a huge white TV with radio and 8-track stereo. Can you believe it? 8-track? Then, a washer and dryer, a waterbed, and a dining room set. The first contestant passed it on to me so I bid $2,800. Her showcase was a trip to Paris, a stereo and a bunch of albums. I don’t remember what she bid but it was way too much so I won my showcase, worth about $4,000 as I recall.
DG: 8-Track! Nice. Do you still have any of the prizes today?
Deb: I sold the washer and dryer and the waterbed. I lived in an apartment. The Dune Cat was stolen almost immediately. The TV was stolen while in storage in the early 80s. The grandfather clock was destroyed in the Northridge Earthquake in 1994. I had the dining set until about 3 years ago when I finally let it go for something a bit less dated.
DG: Going back to The Price Is Right taping, what was the atmosphere like in the studio on the day of taping?
Deb: It was electric. Everyone was very excited and trying to guess who was going to get called. We felt like we were friends because we had spent so much time in line together.
DG: Any funny situation or outtakes?
Deb: I don’t recall any outtakes. The funniest thing that happened was probably when I said on stage in front of millions of people. I said that my grandmother would rot her socks for giving her tickets away!
DG: Especially after winning the showcase! Are there any other special moments or memories of that day that remain with you today (besides winning of course!)?
Deb: I think planning how I was going to tell my grandmother and mother. I was still a college student living at home at the time. I strolled into the apartment very nonchalant. My mom asked how it was and I said, “It was OK – especially since I won the showcase” (or something like that). She didn’t believe me at first but then she started jumping up and down, too!
DG: Nice. You don’t by chance have any pictures or videos of your time on the show?
Deb: No. If there was video at the time, I wasn’t aware of it. I took the day off classes and my mom stayed home from work to watch it.
DG: It sounds like you were one of the lucky contestants to make it all the way to The Price Is Right Showdown (and win it!) Would you ever want to try your luck again and come back as a contestant?
Deb: Oh… I don’t think so. There could only be one time like that. Besides, now, even in flats, I couldn’t go fast enough for the “Race Game.”
DG: Ha ha. Amazing you did it in platform shoes! So what do you think of [current host] Drew Carey?
Deb: He’s no Bob Barker.
DG: That’s true. But then who is? As a former contestant, let me pick your brain for some unique perspective thoughts. What would you say is better and/or worse about the show today compared to the show in the 70’s?
Deb: I preferred when the best bidders got to the showcase and everyone else got a year’s supply of Rice-A-Roni (or whatever). With the wheel, it’s all about the spin and not the bidding. On the “up” side, though, there is much more money to be won now.
DG: Yes definitely! So few of us are fortunate enough to be contestants on The Price Is Right, let along winners. So, let me just say thank you very much for sharing your actual The Price Is Right experience with DataGrabber.org. We wish you the best of luck in your Price Is Right gaming on Facebook! Thanks again for your time and story and for sharing with DataGrabber.org.
Deb: You’re welcome.
Hope you enjoyed our exclusive interview with TPIR contestant and Showcase winner, Deb Owen!
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