Monty Hall, who co-created and hosted the iconic game show Let’s Make a Deal, died Saturday at age 96.
Hall’s daughter, actress Joanna Gleason, confirmed the news to the New York Times.
Born Monte Halparin in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Hall worked in radio and television for years before creating Let’s Make a Deal with Stefan Hatos in 1963. The show, which focused on lavishly dressed contestants vying for the chance to make a deal, would air with Hall as host through 1986; he later returned to host a 1991 version. (In 2009, Wayne Brady took over as emcee of a new version of Let’s Make a Deal.)
“When we did our first show, people showed up in business suits and dresses, nice looking people in the studio audience. By about the second week or so, a woman showed up with a sign. One side said, ‘roses are red, violets are blue, I came here to deal with you’ I stopped, read the poem, and picked her,” Hall explained in an interview. “The next week, everybody had a sign. Then somebody else had a funny hat, then came costumes.”
A hallmark of Let’s Make a Deal was the outfits, which contestants wore to draw attention to themselves so that Hall might pick them out of the crowd. Once chosen, contestants would blindly deal with Hall for the chance to win greater prizes (if they were so lucky).
Said Hall of Let’s Make a Deal in an interview, “The difference between greed and gambling is this: If it were a greed show, I would say to a contestant, ‘What do you want?’ ‘I want this and I want that and I want this. I want it all.’ In Let’s Make a Deal, you could not do that. You had to say, ‘Would you give up your color TV for the unknown behind the curtain?’ Now you have to stop and think. Should I risk my brand new color TV? What would motivate me to do that? Maybe I already have a color TV. It’s time for me to go for what’s behind the door. Or it could be, I know there’s something great behind the door. I’m willing to gamble. So it becomes gambling and risk. It’s not greed because you don’t keep the color TV. You have to give it up. That’s the big difference. No one knew what they were playing for.”
In addition to Gleason, Hall had two other children: Sharon Hall, a producer at Endemol Shine Studios, and Richard Hall, a producer and Emmy winner for The Amazing Race. Hall’s wife, Marilyn, also an Emmy winner, died in June this year.