Creator and longtime host of the iconic game show, “Let’s Make a Deal,” Monty Hall, has died. Hall passed away at his home in Beverly Hills from heart failure. He was 96.
“Let’s Make a Deal” burst into our lives in 1963 and with few exceptions, has aired continually. In the beginning, the audience wore conservative suits and dresses and were a subdued, polite crowd. Hall would scan the audience and attempt to pick out a ‘trader’ that would play off his host personality; it had to be good TV. But, the proper and well-mannered personalities flew out the window as audience members realized to be selected to make a deal, they must attract Hall’s eagle eye:
“By one account, the turning point came when a woman in the audience, vying for Mr. Hall’s attention with hopes of being chosen as a contestant, wore a bizarre-looking hat.”
Mr. Hall recalled it somewhat differently in 2013: The game changer, he said, was a woman carrying a sign that said, “Roses are red, violets are blue, I came here to deal with you.”
Whatever the catalyst, the outlandish costumes became the norm, and would-be traders arrived on set wearing refrigerator boxes, Minnie Pearl hats, cowboy attire and even Raggedy Ann outfits, all ready to trade with the super suave Hall. The likable con-man once boasted, “In 4,700 shows, I got kissed 50,000 times.”
What’s Behind Door #1?
Hall would wander through the crowd with a wad of cash in his hand and bargain with ‘traders.’ He would offer up to $150 for the contents of a purse, $50 for each paper clip, or handkerchief which he would immediately offer to trade for a box or what was behind one of three big box doors on stage. Prizes were often automobiles, appliances, and furniture; unless the trader selected a zonk:
“The show’s producers showed mercy on the “zonk” winners, however. After the taping of the show, they would be offered a substitute prize, such as a television, and most would take it.
“In 1 percent of the cases, they didn’t,” Hall said. “There was a time when a farmer won five calves, and he wanted the calves. That cost me a fortune because when you rent them from the animal place, they’re expensive.”
How It All Began
He was Monte Halparin, before changing his name for radio and stage purposes. Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and zoology from the University of Manitoba. But the spotlight was infectious, and Hall moved to New York in 1955 to work on the NBC radio program, “Monitor,” a mix of comedy, sports, and news. He also was host and narrator for their hit show, “Cowboy Theater” from 1956 to 1957.
In 1960, Hollywood beckoned with an offer to host his first game show, “Video Village.”The CBS show featured human tokens (contestants) on a life-sized game board, and this was where he met his partner to create “Let’s Make a Deal.” The rest is, well, history.
Pop Culture in Perpetuity
Hall hosted 4,700 episodes before retiring in 2009. His brainchild, “Let’s Make a Deal” made Carrol Merrill, the show’s model, and Jay Stewart, announcer, household names and created the popular phrase in American language, “what’s behind door number two?”
The crazy show with near hysterical, costumed traders, continues with Wayne Brady at the helm, a Monty Hall endorsed replacement. Or as Hall said about Brady in a 2013 interview, “He’s making it his show. He’s learning the star of the show is the contestant and to make them feel at home, make them feel like they came to your party.”
Hall leaves behind a family of show business successes:
“…two daughters, Joanna Gleason, a Tony Award-winning actress, and Sharon Hall, a television executive; a son, Richard, a producer who won an Emmy for “The Amazing Race”; a brother, Robert Hall, a lawyer; and five grandchildren. His wife of almost 70 years, the former Marilyn Plottel, an Emmy Award-winning television producer, died in June.”
Godspeed Mr. Hall. Now you know what’s behind door number one, two and three.