Janice Marie Pennington (born July 8, 1942 in Seattle, Washington) is an American former model, actress, and author. She is best known for having been one of the two original "Barker's Beauties" on The Price is Right and for serving as the show's longest-running model to date, from September 4, 1972 to December 15, 2000. She is the older sister of fellow model Ann Pennington, who was an occasional substitute model on Price.
Early life and pre-Price careerEdit
Born on July 8, 1942, in Seattle, Washington, Janice landed her first job as a dancer was at the Seattle World's Fair at the age of 19. From there she went to Las Vegas where she worked as a dancer and showgirl with such show-business legends as Jimmy Durante and Eddie Fisher. At the age of 22, Pennington went to New York to pursue her modeling career. She signed with the famous Eileen Ford Agency, and fashion photography and television commercials ensued. She appeared in over seventy commercials for such products as Dove, Chrysler, Max Factor, Whirlpool, and Anacin. While in New York, she formed a rock group called "The Models," which traveled to Europe with Liza Minnelli, and performed at the Olympia Theater as one of Minnelli's opening acts. She was signed to the MGM Records label and recorded the famous song "Bend Me, Shape Me."
Industrial films and small budget movies became a part of her growing career. For two years, she worked as an actor and a cast-mate of Orson Welles in his last film, The Other Side Of The Wind, with such notables as Dennis Hopper, John Huston, Peter Bogdanavich, and other famous stars. Pennington likewise appeared in many such episodic TV series as Ironside, The Courtship Of Eddie's Father, starring Bill Bixby, and Lucas Tanner, in addition to appearing in cameo roles on other television series. She likewise acted alongside Elliot Gould in the film I Love My Wife. Moreover, she performed as an entertainer on variety shows like Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, the Bob Hope television specials, and The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour. During her tenures on those shows, she worked with Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, and Tony Bennett, among others. In 1969, she became one of the regulars on the hit variety show Laugh-In, as mentioned above, after actress Goldie Hawn left the show.
The Price Is RightEdit
In September of 1971, Pennington was hired to shoot the pilot for a planned revival of The Price is Right which Bob Barker was slated to host. Pennington compiled the world record for having taped over 6,300 episodes of what became the longest running game show in the history of television.
On the May 14, 1976 Daytime episode, a special showcase was presented, titled Janice Pennington, This is Your Strife. The showcase featured prizes (and clips) with which Pennington had had some mishaps;: the Pop-Up bar that had refused to pop up, the overstuffed refrigerator that had nearly fallen on her, and a convertible whose bumper she had nearly crashed when driving it out on stage for the Lucky Seven game. (Dian Parkinson drove the car out on stage during the actual showcase.) During the rehearsal of that show, the staff actually rehearsed a fake showcase so that Pennington would have no clue on what was happening.
However, on a syndicated episode of The Price is Right transmitted in 1976, during the Cliff Hangers Game, host Dennis James had referred to the mountain climber as "Fritz." He had not been aware of Pennington's heart-breaking personal crisis, detailed below, as her then husband, Fritz Stammberger, had disappeared while mountain climbing in Afghanistan. The contestant who had played Cliff Hangers had lost the game as the mountain climber tumbled off the cliff, and James shouted, "There goes Fritz!" This left Pennington devastated and distraught. Running off stage and remaining backstage crying, she did not appear on camera for the remainder of that show. This edition, never shown again afterwards, marked the one and only time the Cliff Hangers Game would be played on the syndicated version, and some fans later speculated that this was the reason James was ultimately dismissed from his hosting duties.
The serious injury on The Price Is Right set and litigationEdit
On October 7, 1988, Pennington suffered a serious injury after a cameraman swung his camera in the wrong direction during the opening sequence. The camera struck Pennington, knocking her into the audience. She was badly injured and was immediately rushed to the hospital for surgery. The production of that taping was stopped for nearly an hour, till the staff was assured that Pennington would survive. The taping finally resumed with only Holly Hallstrom and Dian Parkinson modeling.
Over the next several weeks, while Pennington recovered from her injury, Kyle Aletter filled in for her. Pennington returned to the show on November 10, and though she made a full recovery, she lost her ability to model swimsuits after the accident, as her surgeries left some damaging scars on her shoulder. In February of 1989, Pennington filed suit against CBS, citing negligence. The case went to trial, and in March 1992, a jury awarded her $1.3 million for injuries she sustained on the set of The Price is Right.
Her talk show and Husband, Lover, SpyEdit
During the 1991-1992 TV season, Pennington hosted a weekly half-hour talk show called Breaking In, where she revealed the real Hollywood, the stars and the stars behind the stars. She taped and broadcast 45 shows.
Beginning on May 8, 1992, Pennington took a leave of absence from The Price is Right as she traveled to Russia to investigate more into the disappearance of her first husband, Fritz Stammberger, and it was there she learned that Stammberger had been declared legally dead in 1984. Finally finding closure, Pennington returned to the United States and, on May 27, the set of Price as well.
In her time off the set, Pennington went to work writing a book which she eventually Husband, Lover, Spy, which she published in early 1994. She discussed the book on The Price is Right several times after its publication, and copies of the book were even offered as a prize on the show.
Other TV appearancesEdit
In the middle 1970s, Pennington occasionally appeared as a celebrity panelist on Match Game, hosted by Gene Rayburn. Bob Barker and Holly Hallstrom have also appeared as panelists. In 1991, and again in 1993, she appeared with Bob Barker and the cast of The Price is Right, with Barker as team captain, as they faced off against the cast of the CBS soap The Young and The Restless, whose team captain was future Price host Doug Davidson, in a Soap Stars vs Barker's Beauties special on Family Feud during the hosting tenure of Ray Combs.
In 1996, Pennington and Rod Roddy appeared as guests on The Oprah Winfrey Show, in a special game show-themed episode titled "Oprah's Wild World of Game Shows." They appeared on the show alongside fellow game show greats Wink Martindale, Peter Marshall, Chuck Barris, and Peter Tomarken. (Roddy had been the announcer of Press Your Luck, which Tomarken had hosted.)
In 1999, Pennington was interviewed for A&E's Biography about Bob Barker.
Price is Right departureEdit
In December of 2000, Janice, after having been with the series since its premiere, was dismissed from The Price is Right on the 13th (airdate). Kathleen Bradley and several of the show's staffers were also terminated that day. Though no reason was ever given for their dismissal, it came to be rumored that both Pennington and Bradley had refused to testify against ex-model Holly Hallstrom, who had been abruptly dismissed in October of 1995, in her wrongful termination suit against Bob Barker and that they too were dismissed as a result. Neither model received a proper formal send-off from the show, which left fans angry and outraged. There was more hurt and anger over Pennington's abrupt dismissal, due to the fact that she had been with the show since its premiere episode on September 4, 1972. Worse, in addition to being dismissed from The Price is Right, Pennington was also prohibited from publicly speaking against Bob Barker for possibly legal reasons.
In March of 2001, a handful of months after her dismissal from The Price is Right, Pennington resurfaced to co-host a special Green Ball Awards show ceremony with Todd Newton, host of the game show Hollywood Showdown, the GSN original series Whammy: The All-New Press Your Luck, and The Price is Right Live and the voice-over host of the 2005 Price Is Right DVD Game. The special aired on the Game Show Network as it showcased clips and handing out awards to some of the most memorable and wacky moments in game-show history. Ironically, no clips and memorable and wacky moments from The Price is Right were shown. This is believed to have been Pennington's last televised appearance.
Pennington has married three times. She was first married to Glen Jacobson from 1964 to 1973. A year later, she married her second husband, Fritz Stammberger on May 12, 1974. The following year, as stated above, he disappeared while mountain climbing in Afghanistan. He was declared legally dead in the early 1980s. Her most recent husband was the famed writer Carlos De Abreu. They married on April 20, 1984.
- Pennington posed nude in a pictorial for Playboy Magazine's May 1971 issue. (Dian Parkinson also stripped for a later Playboy layout.)
- Pennington's younger sister, fellow model Ann Pennington, occasionally served as a substitute model on Price and went on to appear as one of the two card dealers on the 1978-1981 version of Card Sharks, hosted by the late Jim Perry.
- Pennington also jointly founded the Hollywood Film Festival with her most recent husband, Carlos De Abreu.
- Janice Pennington in swimsuits and bikinis
- Pennington has her body painted on I've Got a Secret with Steve Allen
- Janice's unbelievable inspiration putt in the Hole In One Game
- Janice appearing in an early 1970s commercial for Doritos
- Janice tries her hand at the Punch-A-Bunch Game, 1987
- Janice appearing in an AIDS Facts for PSA awareness, 1988
- Janice co-hosting the Green Ball Awards with "Price is Right Live" host Todd Newton, March 24, 2001
- Janice and her husband Carlos de Abreu on the Red Carpet at the Hollywood Film Awards, 2016 (no sound)