The Untold Truth About the Models of The Price Is Right

Over the years, thousands of people dressed in crazy costumes have been called to “come on down,” bid on products, spin the big wheel, and participate in the Showcase Showdown. The show technically premiered in 1956, but it wasn’t a hit until the producers revamped it with Barker and a squad of models to showcase the prizes.

Janice Pennington / Rachel Reynolds / Lanisha Cole / Drew Carey / Janice Pennington, Bob Barker, Chantel Dubay. 
Source: Getty Images

There have been dozens of models who make the prizes look more enticing over the years. Despite mostly using their hand motions to show off the prizes, some of them have become more famous than others. However, not all of them had a pleasant experience behind the scenes of The Price Is Right.

Inspired by Let’s Make a Deal

The Price Is Right technically made its TV debut in 1956 and ran throughout the ‘60s. While the concept was like the current version, producer Mark Goodson felt it was boring and wanted to revamp it in the ‘70s. However, CBS executives told him the concept was outdated.

A screengrab of the television show Let’s Make a Deal.
Source: YouTube

In the early ‘70s, the new standard for game shows was NBC’s Let’s Make a Deal. So, Goodson borrowed the idea of the show’s circus-like atmosphere, with contestants being pulled from the audience to play a bunch of different games with models presenting the prizes. Bob Barker was also brought in to host.

Low Paychecks

Back in the early days of The Price Is Right, the models were Janice Pennington, Dian Parkinson, and Holly Hallstrom. They added something extra to the show because people love to look at beautiful women. However, the women were only paid about $2,000 per week to tape for hours on end.

A video still from an episode.
Photo by O’Brien/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

While it might seem like a lot of money for a week of standing around and pointing at prizes, the models had to be in heels for hours on end with few breaks. There was also less rotation between models than today, so the same group was working every day and week.

They Still Don’t Make Much Money

The popular The Price Is Right models from back in the day have long since retired and been replaced with a new, younger, co-ed group. Today, models like Rachel Reynolds, Amber Lancaster, Manuela Arbalaez, James O’Holloran, and Devin Goda make about $100,000 per season, which is about $2,173.91 per week.

The models and the presenter pose a promotional portrait of the show.
Source: YouTube

They tape for 46 weeks, but no two models work every day for every taping. Although they are not working every day, the models don’t get paid for the days they don’t work. Every model also has a different contract, so newer models make less than those who are regulars, like Reynolds.

Rachel Reynolds Has Been on the Show for Over a Decade

Reynolds has been on The Price Is Right since 2003, making her the longest-tenured model on the show. She is the only current model to have worked with Bob Barker and Drew Carey, and people love to see Reynolds each week. But the Louisiana native has a busy career outside The Price Is Right.

A photo of Reynolds during The Price Is Right pop-up.
Photo by Hutton Supancic/Getty Images

Outside of the game show, she was the spokesmodel for LA Fitness and modeled for Venus swimwear for ten years. Reynolds has also dabbled in the acting world, appearing on The Bold and the Beautiful, How I Met Your Mother, and Jack and Jill. She has been busy in her personal life too.

Reynolds Is Married to a Pro Baller

In between her busy career, Reynolds had time to marry former professional baseball player David Delucci in 2010. The couple welcomed their daughter Ruby Rey in 2013. Reynolds keeps her schedule full between work, family time, and volunteer work with the Wounded Warrior Project.

A portrait of Reynolds in a still from the show.
Photo by Jesse Grant/WireImage/Getty Images

As one of the longest working models on The Price Is Right, she makes the most money of all the models. She has a net worth of about $4 million and rakes in about $600,000 per year with all her jobs. However, not everyone has had the same experience.

Lanisha Cole Was Ignored

When Lanisha Cole landed a spot as a model on The Price Is Right, it was a dream come true. She had always wanted to be one of “Barker’s Beauties,” as the models were sometimes called. From 2003 till 2008, the job seemed perfect.

A promotional portrait of Lanisha Cole for The Price Is Right.
Photo by Jesse Grant/WireImage/Getty Images

However, in December 2009, everything changed. Producer Michael G. Richards stopped speaking to Cole and only communicated through notes, messages, and intermediaries. This lasted for about a year, while Richards favored another model with whom he was having a sexual relationship.

Cole Got in Trouble

While the model who was sleeping with Richards pursued other job opportunities without repercussions, Cole was repeatedly called into meetings to discuss her work ethic. Despite having a perfect employment record, she still got into trouble for doing what the other models did.

A promotional photo of the three models from The Price Is Right.
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Another producer would come into Cole’s dressing room without permission and yell at her while she stood there practically naked. The work environment started to take a toll on her health due to stress and anxiety. Cole complained, but human resources didn’t help her.

Cole Sued the Show

After putting up with the horrible treatment for too long, Cole quit. She was heartbroken about losing her dream job. She decided to sue the show for medical expenses, lost job opportunities, and damage to her physical and mental health.

Cole poses for the press.
Photo by John M. Heller/Getty Images

Cole wanted justice for everything she had been put through over the eight years of working on The Price Is Right. While she didn’t win the lawsuit, Cole settled with the show’s producers and production company out of court. Her deal was not divulged to the public.

Cole Wasn’t the First

Long before Cole joined the show, Dian Parkinson was one of the popular models on the show. She worked on The Price Is Right for 18 years and sued Bob Barker for allegedly forcing her to sleep with him. Parkinson said Barker threatened to have her fired if she didn’t sleep with him.

Dian Parkinson, Bob Barker, and Janice Pennington pose for a picture during an event.
Photo by Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

Although Barker denied those accusations, he said he and Parkinson dated from 1989 to 1991. He claimed she initiated the sexual relationship. Parkinson said she was terrified of losing her job, so she did what Barker wanted. When she finally quit, Barker was happy.

Dian Parkinson Had Medical Issues

Due to the stress of the sexual demands by Barker, Parkinson developed a bleeding ulcer. She couldn’t work anymore, and the producers paid her $1,000 a week to keep quiet about the allegations. Nevertheless, Parkinson dropped the lawsuit because it was affecting her health.

Dian Parkinson poses for the press / A photo of Bob Barker after a press conference.
Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

Parkinson continued to stand by her allegations despite dropping the suit. Her doctor advised her that the stress wasn’t worth it because of how much it affected her health. Barker also asked Parkinson to sign a statement that she wasn’t abused, but she refused.

They Fired Her for Gaining Weight

Around the same time that Parkinson dropped her lawsuit, another one of Barker’s Beauties, Holly Hallstrom, made allegations against the show host. Hallstrom claimed Barker and the producers fired her because her medication caused her to gain weight. They didn’t want a heavier model.

A portrait of Holly Hallstrom.
Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

Hallstrom spent all her money on lawyers to sue the show for wrongful termination and ended up living in her car for a while. Luckily, she won the lawsuit and got millions from the settlement. Unfortunately, there were other models wrongfully terminated.

They Tried to Cover It Up

When Hallstrom was fired, the news spread quickly. Barker followed her lawsuit with a slander and libel suit in 1995. Barker told Entertainment Tonight that her termination had nothing to do with her weight, and if it were about that, she would have been let go a long time ago.

A dated video still of Hallstrom speaking during a televised interview.
Source: YouTube

Instead, Barker said that Hallstrom was fired because of the show’s cutbacks. However, that didn’t make sense because someone replaced Hallstrom shortly after. Clearly, it had nothing to do with the show’s budget.

She Was Injured on the Job

In 1988, show model Janice Pennington was knocked unconscious into a row of contestants when a camera hit her. The incident left her with a shoulder an inch lower than the other and noticeable scars. It prevented her from wearing the trademark bathing suit.

A still of Janice Pennington in The Price Is Right / Janice speaks during an interview at the time.
Source: YouTube

In 2000, she was fired without an explanation, but she knew it was because her injuries made her look less beautiful than the other models. On the same day Pennington was fired, one of the on-air assistants was also let go without reason. They both received financial settlements.

Not a Coincidence

In the same year that Pennington was fired, the show’s first Black model, Kathleen Bradley, was also let go. It was claimed that she was fired to attract a younger demographic. However, Bradley wasn’t happy with that.

Janice Pennington attends an event.
Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images

It seemed like she was let go for her age, but the truth was that she was one of many who was fired for testifying in support of Hallstrom. All the women from the show who testified in Hallstrom’s trial were fired from the show on the same day.

Not All the Models Had a Bad Time

Amber Lancaster is one of the more popular models currently on the show. She has been on since 2008 and wasn’t a stranger to modeling before she landed a spot on The Price Is Right. In 1998, Lancaster won Miss Washington Teen USA.

Amber Lancaster attends an event.
Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic/Getty Images

She has worked as a model for many publications outside of the show and is one of the higher-paid models. Unlike some models who were on at the same time or before her, Lancaster has only shared positive experiences about working on the show.

She Made History on the Show

Manuela Arbelaez became the first Hispanic model on The Price Is Right when she won the 2008 model search for the show. She was then hired to be one of “Carey’s Cuties.” The Columbian-born model has also been in movies and music videos.

Manuela Arbelaez poses for the press.
Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images

In 2018, she married Matthew Doherty and took some time off from the show when she had her daughter Matilda in 2019. Although she has been one of the favorite models on the show, Arbelaez almost got fired for a huge mistake.

She Helped a Contestant Win

In a 2015 episode of the show, a contestant was given three chances to guess the correct price of a Hyundai Sonata SE. After the contestant’s incorrect first guess, Arbelaez accidentally pulled the cover off the correct answer before the contestant took a second guess.

Models Manuela Arbelaez, Rachel Reynolds, Lanisha Cole, and host Drew Carey appear on stage in a still from the show.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The contestant excitedly screamed that she won after Carey and Arbelaez realized the mistake. Carey then announced, “Congratulations! Manuela just gave you a car! Way to go!” She was so embarrassed, but the producers supported her despite the mistake. She was lucky to keep her job.

Stress Caused Her to Lose the Baby

Brandi Cochran became a model on The Price Is Right in 2001. She had a good run on the show, but things started to change in 2007 when she got pregnant. Cochran kept her pregnancy a secret because she was terrified of losing her job.

Brandi poses for the press.
Photo by J.Sciulli/WireImage/Getty Images

The stress was so intense that it caused Cochran to have a miscarriage. When the producers found out what happened, they said that it was “nature’s way of getting rid of a bad baby.” Cochran couldn’t believe those words came out of their mouths.

Cochran Stayed on the Show

Despite the horrible treatment, Cochran decided to stay on the show. However, when she got pregnant again in late 2008, Cochran was determined to keep herself stress-free. She told the producers the news, but they started tormenting her with mean comments.

A backstage photo of the models from the show.
Source: YouTube

The producers would make comments like, “Wide load coming through,” or “You’re packing on a lot of extra weight.” They then started cutting back Cochran’s hours and forced her to announce her pregnancy on air because she was “showing.” They also got mad that she was having twins.

They Didn’t Let Her Come Back

When Cochran tried to return to work after going on disability leave to recover from birth and postpartum depression, the producers gave her the cold shoulder and refused to schedule her. The producers had Cochran removed from the show’s website even though she was still an employee.

A video still from The Price Is Right.
Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Viewers started asking when Cochran would return, and Drew Carey lied by claiming that no one knew when she would be back, but “she was loved and missed.” Eventually, after being strung along, the producers fired Cochran in 2010. So, she got her revenge.

Cochran Took Legal Action

After being harassed and wrongfully terminated, Cochran sued CBS, the show’s production company, and the producers. In her lawsuit, Cochran revealed that the show models were refused breaks and mealtimes and didn’t get royalties for reruns. She also said her image was used for advertising without payment.

A still of an episode from the show.
Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images

While the producers thought they would be fully vindicated, a court awarded Cochran nearly $8.5 million. The producers appealed, and Cochran was stripped of her winnings. She later received an undisclosed amount in an out-of-court settlement. The defense said there was evidence that could swing the decision.

They Decided to Bring in Men

The Price Is Right has only used female models for decades, but in 2014, the show launched a male model search. Australian James O’Halloran won the contest and joined the cast that year. O’Halloran moved to the US to pursue a career in the entertainment industry.

James O’Halloran attends an event.
Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

He previously worked as an industrial designer in Australia. Outside of the show, he worked as an actor for shows like The Young and the Restless, The Mindy Project, Jane the Virgin, and Superstore. While it was nice to make the models co-ed, the men have it easier than the women.

Devin Goda Used to Be a Football Player

Devin Goda is one of the newer models on The Price Is Right. He joined the cast in 2018 after working as a model for five years. After college, he played for the Baltimore Ravens, but a hamstring injury ended his football career in 2013.

A still of Devin Goda in The Price Is Right.
Source: CBS

Unlike the other show models, Goda isn’t interested in pursuing an acting career. He has been reflecting on his football career, which has helped him with his work on the game show. Goda said you have to know everything about camera angles and lines, like a football playbook.

The Producer Addressed the Issues

When Michael Richards was up for the hosting spot on Jeopardy after Alex Trebek died, many of the allegations against him came back into the news. In a public statement, Richards said, “These were allegations made in employment disputes against the show.”

Michael Richards speaks on stage at the Emmys.
Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images

Richards claimed that his past comments and actions in the complaints don’t reflect who he really is. He basically discredited all the women’s accusations against him. He said he would never “disrespect anyone’s pregnancy” and “always supported my colleagues’ parenting journeys.”

The Models Were Angry

After hearing Richards’ comments about his previous actions on the show, his accusers were angry. In his statement, Richards denied every accusation against him to make himself look better. Cochran was disappointed that Richards said he never disrespected her pregnancy.

A still of Richards speaking in The Price Is Right.
Source: YouTube

Richards was forced to step down as the temporary host of Jeopardy, and the show continued its search for a replacement host. Everyone knew Richards was lying in his statement. He even said he was proud of his time on The Price Is Right.

Why Bob Barker Really Retired

Barker hosted the show from 1972 until 2007. When he left his hosting job, Barker claimed that he wanted to retire “before he got old.” However, there were rumors that he was being pushed out because of a potential lawsuit of racial discrimination.

Bob Barker signs his autograph on a fan's shirt's back.
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Four months before Barker’s final show, Deborah Curling, a contestant screener for the show for 24 years, filed a lawsuit against Barker and the producers. She claimed racial discrimination, sexual harassment, mental harassment, and abuse. She had previously testified in another case against Barker.

They Retaliated

After Curling testified in the other case, she was demoted, physically threatened, and her job became intolerable. They retaliated by forcing her to quit her job. Curling also said that the producers, Barker, and the show’s director were equal offenders.

Bob Barker addresses the media.
Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images

Unfortunately, Curling’s case was eventually dismissed. A judge found that there were no issues for a trial to resolve. Curling felt that the issues were being brushed under the rug because no one wanted to talk about the issues on the set. And she wasn’t the only one fired for speaking up.

She Was Fired Without Cause

Linda Reigert, a former production assistant for The Price Is Right, was one of the many women who filed a lawsuit against Barker and the production company. She alleged that she was fired because she was a woman and over 50, despite having excellent performance reviews.

Janice Pennington, Bob Barker, and Chantel Dubay pose for the press during an event.
Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

Like Curling, who testified in Reigert’s case, Reigert believed she was also fired for testifying in the lawsuit between Barker and Holly Hallstrom. She felt that the producers and Barker were retaliating because she supported Hallstrom. It seemed to be a common form of punishment on the show.

Her Job Became a Nightmare

Reigert testified in Hollstrom’s case because she overheard the secret conversation between Hollstrom and Barker in which he asked her to lie. Barker figured out that she heard them, and the trouble started. He would curse at her in front of the audience and call her cruel names.

Bob Barker speaks during a press conference.
Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

Barker made her life miserable despite the fact that he had previously given her Christmas cards saying their friendship was so strong. Before she testified, Barker’s lawyers told her to “go home and think long and hard about her version of the story.”

An Ongoing Pattern

Since The Price Is Right has been on the air, many staff members have been fired for various reasons, but there seems to be a pattern. Curling and Reigert were fired for testifying in trials against Barker and the producers, and others faced the same fate.

A dated portrait of Pennington during an interview at her home.
Photo by Annie Wells/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Like the other two women, Hallstrom also believes she was forced to quit/fired due to her position in another show model’s lawsuit. When Parkinson sued Barker for sexual harassment, Hallstrom refused to falsely testify in favor of Barker, so he started harassing her about her weight.

Sherrell Paris Faced the Same Fate

Sherrell Paris worked as an executive assistant on The Price Is Right for over two decades. In 2001, she was suddenly fired after testifying in a lawsuit against Barker. She filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the production company.

A dated video still of Sherrell Paris.
Source: YouTube

Paris was only telling the truth, and she lost her job because of it. She asked for lost wages and damages based on allegations of emotional distress. Paris had no problems with her job until she chose to speak up. The production company decided to settle with her out of court.

Sharon Friem Went Through the Same Problem

Like Paris, Sharon Friem was also fired for testifying in the lawsuit against Barker. It seems that anyone who went against the show host got the ax. People either had to be quiet or lose their jobs for doing what was right, and Friem decided to stand up against Barker’s actions.

Sharon Friem attends an event.
Photo by Jeanne Rice/Getty Images

Friem was an editorial consultant for the game show. In 2001, she filed a lawsuit for wrongful termination against the production company with Paris. They chose to settle out of court because so many people were suing them at once.

She Felt Discriminated Against

When Claudia Jordan joined the show in 2001, she replaced Pennington and Bradley. When more models left the program the following year, Jordan became the only permanent model for the show. Just a year later, Jordan left after complaining about racial discrimination on the set.

Claudia Jordan poses for the press.
Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

Jordan filed a lawsuit against the show, claiming she had become “the butt model” for one lusty producer who became too handsy. She also alleged that her supervisor came into her dressing room and started touching her butt. Jordan said that Barker never touched her, though.

They Settled

Jordan named the producers and Barker in her lawsuit because she believed that Barker was equally responsible. After all, he was an executive producer. She said she thought he knew everything that was going on. The production company wanted to avoid a public court case.

Claudia Jordan attends an event.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Instead of dragging things out in front of a judge, the producers settled with Jordan out of court. After Jordan’s dismissal, they stopped featuring the same model or group of models on a daily basis. They started adding new models every few weeks until 2008.

The Show Has Many Secrets

While the show’s models haven’t had it easy, there are many other not so wholesome things going on behind the scenes. First and foremost, being a contestant isn’t an easy or completely fun task. There is a lot of waiting in line to get on the show.

A still from the show.
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

On taping days, contestants and studio members line up for hours outside the studio. They are then broken up into groups of ten to be interviewed by producers to see if they are worthy of being on the show. Only 100 people get picked, and the rest get nothing.

A Contestant Was Accused of Cheating

In 2008, The Price Is Right contestant Terry Kniess was chosen to “come on down” to play the game. He made it to the Showcase Showdown, where he did something that no one had done before; he guessed the exact price of the prize package.

A photo of the crowd in a still from the show.
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

The producers immediately stopped the taping, expecting to catch Kniess cheating. However, he did nothing wrong. Kniess was such a huge fan of the show and had watched it for years. He realized that some of the prizes were repeated and memorized their values.

You Have to Pay Taxes Right Away

Many episodes end with contestants winning huge prize packages, including cars. However, they don’t get to drive off the set with their awesome prize. Instead, the winner has to go to a dealership in their hometown and pay the taxes before taking the car.

A still from the show.
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

The winner also has to pay the registration fee before they can officially take their big prize. According to California law, any prizes or money won on game shows counts as income, and taxes must be paid before the prizes are awarded.

Many People Wanted to Replace Barker

After Barker stepped down from hosting The Price Is Right, finding his replacement wasn’t easy. The search was so challenging that he offered to delay his retirement. He had a say in who would take over, and many people auditioned for the spot.

Bob Barker and the models of the show pose for the press.
Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage/Getty Images

Stars like George Hamilton, Mario Lopez, John O’Hurley, and Marc Summers hosted mock, non-broadcasted episodes. Summers was Barker’s top choice, but he didn’t end up taking the job. After an extensive search, Carey was offered the job in the summer of 2007 after he impressed CBS executives.

Barker Wasn’t Happy

When Carey started hosting, Barker wasn’t shy about sharing his opinions. He told TMZ that the show was boring, and Carey didn’t make things “exciting.” While many people miss Barker, people still tune in regularly to watch the long-running game show.

Carey poses for the press.
Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

Barker might have stopped watching the show, but at least Carey hasn’t dealt with any sexual assault allegations during his time as the show’s host. He has managed to stay out of the drama while the producers are the ones with the issues. Carey is doing just fine in his position.