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Lifelong 'Price is Right' fan spends time on contestants' row

April 22, 2002|BY ANDREA ROWLAND

andreabh@herald-mail.com

A Hagerstown resident in March heeded a call that she's been waiting most of her life: "Candy Suarez, come on down, you're the next contestant on 'The Price is Right.'"

A lifelong fan of the longest-running game show in television history, Suarez finally got her hour on contestants' row on March 28. The episode will air May 3 on CBS.

She agrees with veteran announcer Rod Roddy's assessment that "The Price is Right" is "television's most exciting hour of fantastic prizes."

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"There's just so much energy in that studio," said Suarez, 33. "It was definitely a wonderful experience."

Suarez got hooked on the game show about 27 years ago when she started watching Bob Barker and his "Barker's Beauties" host such games as "Plinko" and "Hole in One" every day at 11 a.m. with her grandmother, Bertha Mayne.

In those days, Barker still sported brown hair and shared the stage with models Dian Parkinson, Janice Pennington and Holly Hallstrom. After more than 30 years on the air, the host's hair is now as white as his teeth and younger models have replaced the originals.

Thick makeup helped mask nearly 80-year-old Barker's age, Suarez said, but he was just as pleasant in person as he has always appeared to be on television.

Barker stayed on stage during commercial breaks, talking to audience members and contestants, Suarez said.

And she had a front-row view.

Suarez remained in contestants' row throughout the show's one-hour taping. Another contestant continually bid $1 more than Suarez, she said, effectively trouncing her six chances to get on stage by bidding closest without going over the actual retail value of such items as an electric car, scuba gear and curio cabinet.

Barker commented on-air about the "dirty looks" that Suarez gave that competitor.

She wasn't really that upset, she said, although she had hoped to win a new car.

"I was just so happy to be there. I just wanted to be on TV waving to my kids," said Suarez, a nursing assistant who raises seven children with her husband, professional wrestler Andres Suarez.

"In all honesty, staying in contestants' row is sometimes better because if you play and lose, you can leave with nothing," Suarez said.

She earned about $400 in prizes, including a telephone stand from Tiffany's and a gift certificate from Jennifer Convertible home furnishing stores, she said.

Suarez might not have spun the Big Wheel or played the Checkout Game to win those prizes, but she played a game of her own to be chosen as a contestant.

"I start acting crazy," she said. "I made a complete fool out of myself because I knew that's what I had to do to get on the show."

Suarez, her husband and mother made the trip to Los Angeles with tickets for the show's March 27 taping. They arrived on the sidewalk outside the studio at 5 a.m. to find hundreds of eager fans ahead of them.

Audience members are seated in the small studio according to their placement in line, Suarez said.

The show's producers interview each of the more than 300 people admitted into the studio for each show's taping from about 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. - prior to the start of taping at 2:30 p.m., Suarez said.

Audience members who impress the judges are then chosen as contestants.

Suarez knew she needed to get tickets for the next day's taping when she heard a producer comment about an enthusiastic audience member's colorful T-shirt during an interview, she said.

That woman was chosen as a contestant.

After watching the March 27 taping, Suarez and her two family members returned to their hotel room and covered bright orange T-shirts with the names of games from "The Price is Right." Andres Suarez spent the night on the sidewalk outside the studio to ensure his wife a seat near the stage the next day, she said.

Twentieth in line on March 28, Candy Suarez impressed the producers with her over-the-top excitement and show-friendly apparel. But she didn't know she'd been chosen as the show's second contestant until she saw her name on a placard as Rod Roddy said, "Candy Suarez, come on down!"

She went wild.

"I was shaking. I couldn't believe they would pick me out of 330 people in the studio," Suarez said. "I was jumping up and down and hugging everybody."

Her husband hopes to be the next family member to compete on "The Price is Right."

"I got him hooked," Suarez said.

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