Monty Hall, the playful host of Let’s Make a Deal who gave game-show contestants the agonizing choice of taking the cash or what was behind Door No. 3, has died. He was 96.
Hall, who by his own estimation presided over more than 4,700 episodes of the show he co-created, died Saturday due to heart failure, his rep confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.
Survivors include his three children: daughters Gleason, a Tony Award-winning actress and the wife of actor Chris Sarandon; Sharon Hall, president of Endemol Shine Studios and the wife of TV producer Todd Ellis Kessler; and son Richard Hall, an Emmy Award-winning producer (Amazing Race).
His wife of nearly 70 years, Marilyn, who was an Emmy-winning producer, TV writer and author, died in June.
A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Hall served as a radio color man for New York Rangers’ NHL games and hosted other game shows like the scandal-plagued Twenty One, Video Village and revivals of Beat the Clock and Split Second.
(Indeed, before he left for the US, Hall hosted a Canada-wide quarter hour syndicated radio quiz, Who Am I?, which at its peak was wildly popular.
And later from 1956-60, he co-hosted a four hour Saturday night segment of NBC Radio’s fabled weekend service Monitor.)
However, it was Let’s Make a Deal, which he created with Stefan Hatos, that made him a television legend.
The show, which premiered in December 1963, featured contestants who would come to the studio with signs and/or dressed in outlandish, colorful costumes in a bid to attract Hall’s attention.
“When we did our first show, people showed up in business suits and dresses, nice-looking people in the studio audience,” Hall recalled in a 2002 interview with the Archive of American Television. “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. The next week, everybody had a sign. Then somebody else had a funny hat, then came costumes.”
The frantic contestants could gamble and pick what was hidden behind a curtain or one of three doors, or they could opt for the sure thing — cash rolled up in Hall’s jacket pocket. The host, with a twinkle in his eye, engaged in unscripted interactions with these regular folks; it was priceless.
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