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Margie and Me

Monday, October 12, 2009
'Margie Fogal, come on down!'
A.M. READ: After taking hundreds to "The Price is Right," the pastor's wife gets a shot at the showcase.

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TRABUCO CANYON This much I can tell you.

If you watch "The Price is Right" this morning, Rich the announcer will at some point shout: "Margie Fogal, come on down!"

Margie Fogal will make a beeline to Contestant's Row. After giving the winning bid on a brand new laptop computer, she will take off one of her shoes, (a polka dot flip-flop) and start waving it at the studio audience while sprinting up the steps to the piggy bank game and a shot at a brand-new car.

But what happens next isn't nearly as exciting as Margie's 26-year-long love affair with one of the campiest game shows in television history. Let's just say, this wasn't the first time Margie Fogal ran up the "The Price is Right" steps with one bare foot and a shoe in her hand.

Nor, she hopes, will it be her last.

It was 1983. Margie Fogal was 25 years old and had two young 'ins and a house that has been dusted one too many times. The wife of a young pastor, she was fairly broke and a little bored.

"I'm a jungle baby," Margie likes to say. She and her five siblings were raised by missionaries. Her dad Don was a bush pilot and the family lived in Honduras, the Philippines and Laos, flying food and medicine to remote villages in the '60s. Margie swam in mud puddles made by monsoons. She slept under mosquito nets. One of her friends was a gibbon monkey, for Pete's sake.

Now here she was in the burbs, playing housewife and watching "The Price is Right" to get her heart racing. One day it dawned on her the show was practically in her backyard. She wrote for tickets. Four arrived in her mailbox. She felt like Charlie when he found his golden ticket in the Wonka chocolate bar.

Margie took three girlfriends. Right out of the gate, one of them won the showcase. Margie was hooked. Not because her friend won. But because she saw something more in "The Price is Right" than a brand new washer and dryer.

She saw a sort of salvation. The game show was fun. It was free. It was fellowship. It was exactly what women who were dusting their homes one too many times or losing themselves in their child-rearing duties needed.

"Ideally, the pastor's wife should play the piano. She should be a Sunday school teacher. She shouldn't go to Hollywood," Margie says. "But … that's not who I am. I want to show people they have a purpose in life. I want to be a light."

Well, let the sun shine in.

Because over the next 26 years, Margie took hundreds of women to "The Price is Right," organizing pilgrimages to the studio at the corner of Fairfax and Beverly.

Many of the women wound up with more than free fun and fellowship. They wound up with lamps, cars, cash, a sailboat, a hot tub and a tractor. One friend handed the keys of the Grand Am she won over to Margie's husband, pastor Brad. Margie remembers gazing out one Sunday morning in the church in Temecula where her husband was then a youth pastor and counting eight people who had won on "The Price is Right."

"You celebrate other people's joy," she says. "You root people on. It's not about you."

Until it is about you.

When the announcer finally shouted out the sweet words "Margie Fogal, come on down!" in 1988, she sprinted to Contestant's Row wearing a ruffled farmer girl dress, a frizzy perm and about 40 extra pounds. Margie guessed the winning bid for the king size water bed (with a lighted mirror headboard and canopy) and took off in a dead sprint for the stage, losing her sandal. Without missing a step, she swooped to grab it and kept running with one bare foot to Bob Barker, waving her sandal in the air.

Margie won a pickup truck that day and got a shot at the showcase: trips to China, Scotland and Switzerland. She overbid by $700.

Four years later in 1992 Brad heard his name called. He won tennis rackets, a washer and dryer, flatware, a hutch and another shot at the showcase. Once again it was for trips, this time to Montreal, Vienna and Fiji. Determined not to overbid like his wife, he way underbid. "I remember bawling right then in the audience."

Eight years after that their daughter Kayte won $10,000 on the grocery game and, you guessed it, a shot at a showcase. She lost too.

Now here it was July of 2009. The family of 2008 American Idol contestant Jason Castro, who Margie had befriended through the Lake Forest-based American Idol Ministry, was in town visiting. She offered to get them tickets. Margie says she can spot a Price is Right fan a mile away, just like she can spot a softball player (she was a catcher for Valencia High School in Placentia).

Before every show, a producer named Stan asks each audience member a question or two to see if they're Contestant's Row material. The first time Margie went to the show, way back in '83, she was so flustered when asked what her hobby was that she blurted out: "Vacuuming!"

Now, at the age of 51, she is on a first-name basis with Stan. Apparently he thought it was Margie's turn again, because 21 years after hearing the magic words, she heard them again: Margie Fogal, come on down!

If you watch the show this morning, you will at some point see Margie sprint for the stage, kicking off a flip-flop to wave at the audience in homage to her 1988 appearance.

I can also tell you that Margie once again makes it to the elusive showcase. And once again, the showcase promises to whisk her away from the OC burbs; this time for four nights in New York City (with a helicopter drop on the roof of her hotel) and six nights in Madrid.

When Drew asks Margie if she wants to bid on that showcase or pass and see showcase No. 2, she blurts out something like: "Drew, I was a jungle baby and I've been stuck in Orange County my whole life. Yes I'm bidding!"

What do you bid, Drew asks?

Twelve thousand dollars, Margie answers.




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Colossians 3:15

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful."

Scripture reminds us to be thankful for those who have been such a blessing in our lives.

During this Thanksgiving we are grateful to God for Him bringing us the blessing of you. May God richly bless your family during these Holydays!

- Denny and Leesa Bellesi -

















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