TV character, game show host, and animal rights activist. Barker's father passed away when he was very young; until he was in 8th grade, he coped with his mother, Matilda, a teacher, on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in Mission, South Dakota. When Matilda remarried, the family transferred to Springfield, Missouri. Barker graduated from senior high school in the early 1940s and went to Springfield's Drury College on a basketball scholarship. He left school in 1943 to train as a boxer pilot in the United States Naval Reserve, but World War II ended before he was provided an assignment for active duty. Barker came back to Drury and graduated in 1947 with a degree in economics. Barker's job at a radio station in Florida caused his step, in 1950, to California in order to pursue a career in broadcasting.