How Bob Barker joined Sea Shepherd Paul Watson and the whale wars
Bob Barker was among the early Hollywood converts to the animal rights movement. When Paul Watson told him that for $5 million he could end Japanese whaling, Barker responded 'Let's get it on.'
Bob Barker made a fortune and became a popular figure in millions of American households thanks to his avuncular demeanor during his 35-year run on the US gameshow The Price is Right. But his warm smile and encouragement for contestants belied a more pugnacious side that has been revealed only in recent years.Skip to next paragraph
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In 1996, playing himself in the movie Happy Gilmore, Mr. Barker delivered a beating to Adam Sandler's titular character. Last September, he joined the pumped-up behemoths of World Wresting Entertainment to play "The Price is Raw," and forced wrestler Chris Jericho to back down after warning him, "I might have to take you over my knee."
But all that was a warm-up for the real confrontation that Barker's namesake, the Bob Barker, a 1,200-tonne former whaler, participated in earlier this week.
As Barker told the Associated Press, he met Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society through mutual friends in the animal rights movement. Mr. Watson, who uses aggressive, confrontational tactics with a rag-tag fleet of black-painted boats against Japanese whalers every year in the Southern Ocean, made the following pitch, according to Barker: "He said he thought he could put the Japanese whaling fleet out of business if he had $5 million... I said, 'I think you do have the skills to do that, and I have $5 million, so let's get it on."
They got it on, and then some. First, the Barker was secretly converted, given Sea Shepherd's signature black paint job, and secretly dispatched to the Southern Ocean, flying a Norwegian flag. That ruse, making it appear that the ship was from one of the three last countries that support commercial whaling (the others are Iceland and Japan), was to fool the Japanese fleet into allowing the boat to get close. When they neared the Japanese fleet, the crew lowered Norway's flag and hoisted their preferred pennant: The Jolly Roger, the skull-and-crossbones flag associated with 17th- and 18th-century piracy.