Robert Ray "Rod" Roddy (September 28, 1937 - October 27, 2003) was an American broadcaster and announcer. He was most recognizable as a game show announcer, he was the announcer for shows such as Press Your Luck, Love Connection, and Whew! But like Johnny Olson before him, Roddy was mostly notable for The Price is Right from 1986-2003 (his death).
Born on September 28, 1937 in Fort Worth, Texas, Roddy graduated from Texas Christian University and was a Disc Jockey and talk show host on KLIF and KNUS-FM (Dallas, TX), working overnights and mid-days at the Buffalo, New York radio station WKBW AM, a big-signal station covering the Eastern Seaboard of the US and at other high-profile stations.
In 1977, Roddy replaced Casey Kasem as the announcer voice of the situation comedy Soap, a parody of television soap operas which was produced through the production company which Paul Junger Witt, Tony Thomas(entertainer Danny Thomas's son), and Susan Harris operated. He held this role from 1977 to 1981, providing the opening and closing narration; the opening narration tended to end with the words, "Confused? You won't be after this week's episode of Soap."
Roddy's very first game show announcing job came in 1979, when he was the announcer on the short-lived game show Whew! This ran from April 23, 1979 to May 30, 1980. From there, he went to announce for shows such as Battlestars (1981-1982), Love Connection (1983-1985, 1986), Hit Man (1983), and Press Your Luck (1983-1986).
The Price Is RightEdit
After Johnny Olson died in October of 1985, and after a rotation of stand-in announcers (Gene Wood, Bob Hilton, and Rich Jeffries), Roddy was selected as Olson's permanent replacement. The then producer, Roger Dobkowitz, stated that he liked Roddy the best, and that he was a CBS favorite. On February 17, 1986, Roddy took his permanent place at the announcer's booth. He also announced on the syndicated, nighttime show with Tom Kennedy (which was still roughly in production) as well.
Roddy's studio audience warm-ups before each taping differed vastly from Olson's. Roddy would have everyone in the audience stand up and recite what he called "The Contestant Oath," where he would shout out a line such as "I will NOT chew gum on national television" and the audience would repeat the same line, e.g., I will NOT chew gum on national television, after him.
Roddy was overweight for most of his adult life, but after becoming permanent announcer for The Price Is Right, he adopted a rigorous diet and exercise program. The program resulted in Roddy losing close to 200 pounds. The crew would sometimes spoof this, with Bob asking how much weight he lost then showing a distorted camera image of Rod akin to a funhouse mirror. With his weight-loss regimen becoming a much-lauded success (frequently mentioned by Bob Barker), he was frequently shown on camera when calling the next contestant to "COME ON DOWN!" Also like Olson before him, he appeared in various showcase sketches and occasionally modeled prizes on the show, such as being in a "Showcase Showdown" where Janice Pennington play a "Working Wife" for one contestant's showcase, then having Rod Roddy play a "House Husband" for the other contestant's showcase.
Roddy was also noted for wearing brightly colored and sequined sport jackets; he had first adopted this practice as a trademark when making personal appearances emceeing teen dances and concerts for WKBW in Buffalo in the 1960s. On his earliest appearances on Price, Roddy wore pastel jackets made in Hong Kong; with the encouragement of Bob Barker, he turned them into a staple of the show. Roddy even traveled to Bangkok several times a year to have custom clothing made for him. He also traveled frequently to Thailand as the official ambassador to Chiang Mai.
Roddy had been diagnosed with colon cancer in 2000, which he requested a leave of absence from Price to undergo and recover from surgery and chemotherapy. (The day he learned of his cancer diagnosis was September 11th, 2001, which had ironically also been associated with death and darkness for Americans). During Roddy's leave, Burton Richardson, who had been the announcer on the short-lived syndicated version from 1994 to 1995, which Doug Davidson had hosted, substituted for Roddy, making his mark on Barker's version as well. (Richardson had initially become prominent in the 1990s as the announcer of The Arsenio Hall Show.) The following year, Roddy's colon cancer returned. He took another leave of absence from the show, and Richardon returned to the announcer's booth while Roddy recovered. Unfortunately for Roddy, in March of 2003, he was diagnosed with male breast cancer, and though he underwent surgery for it, he experienced major complications afterwards and was left unable to return to Price. Randy West took over the announcing job from Richardson, who was busy with Family Feud, another Goodson-Todman game show, at the time.
Beginning in Season 31, Roddy's on-air camera appearances were eliminated from the show (he still came to the stage during the closing, but usually not early enough to be seen on CBS). The reasons for this were not made clear at the time; FremantleMedia, which had taken over control of Goodson-Todman Productions (which by then had become Mark Goodson Productions), supposedly claimed that it was against policy for announcers to appear on camera during any of its game shows, while others speculated that a falling-out that had supposedly occurred between Barker and Roddy was the real reason for him being deprived of his camera time. The policy was later claimed to be a fabrication in a 2009 interview which former model Holly Hallstrom gave. Hallstrom was dismissed in October of 1995, but she and Roddy remained close friends, and she even spent much time with him in the hospital during the last few months of his life. Roddy had found work as a voice actor during this time for the Disney Channel, which afforded him a more flexible schedule.
On the Season 32 premiere show of Price, which aired September 22, 2003, Roddy was briefly shown on camera. It would be the last time the home audiences would ever see him on camera. Despite his illness, he continued on announcing for the show as long as he could; in between, Richardson and West rotated filling in for him. Rod's final week of shows aired during the week of October 13-17, with the following Monday, October 20th, being his very last (he would pass away just seven days later).
On October 27, 2003, less than a month after his 66th birthday and exactly a week after his final on-air appearance, Roddy lost his battles with colon and breast cancer and died of both diseases. He was interred at Greenwood Memorial Park in Fort Worth, TX, his birthplace, and he had "COME ON DOWN" inscribed on his tombstone, a phrase popularized by Johnny Olson. At the time of his death, he had been the longest-serving announcer of The Price is Right, serving for 17 years and breaking Olson's record for tenure duration as Price announcer.
Roddy received a short tribute from Barker, which aired before the start of a later episode. (The tribute only lasted eighteen seconds and while some fans felt Barker's tribute was heartfelt, others were infuriated and felt the tribute should've been longer) Craig Kilborn, then-host of The Late, Late Show, paid a longer tribute to Roddy, which some fans considered much better, on the October 28, 2003 show. (Roddy, one of Kilborn's friends, had been a frequent guest on Kilborn's program.)
Hollywood Squares dedicated a special week of shows titled "Game Show Week II" to Roddy's memory, as he had been the announcer on the first edition of "Game Show Week" (with original host Peter Marshall in the center square) in December of 2002.
The rotation of fill-in announcers, which included Richardson and West, as well as Jim Thornton, continued on until producers settled in on Rich Fields (April 2004) being chosen as Rod's permanent replacement. (Fields continued on as announcer on Price until his dismissal in 2010.)
In a similar matter to the eighteen-second tribute, Roddy was only mentioned once in Barker's memoir, Priceless Memories, when he listed the show's announcers throughout the years. This also angered some fans, as their on-screen chemistry seemed excellent.
- "As many of you know, we have lost our dear friend Rod Roddy. Rod's many television friends and all of us associated with The Price is Right. Will miss his splendid talent and his great sense of humor. May god bless Rod". Bob Barker (2003)
- He was also the voice of Mike the Microphone on Disney's House of Mouse from 2001-2003.