TV game show host and creator Monty Hall, the man who took Let’s Make A Deal from a daytime staple into prime time, has died of heart failure in Beverly Hills. He was 96 and died at home. His daughter, Joanna Gleason, confirmed his death to the New York Times.
The show premiered in 1963 and, with some interruptions, continues to run. Contestants in outrageous costumes try to guess prices and see “what’s behind Door No. 1,” a line that bled into the popular culture.
Hall was involved in Let’s Make a Deal to the end, both as an owner of the show and an occasional guest.
Sharon Hall, his daughter, issued a statement on her father’s passing. “I would love Monty Hall to be remembered for being a television pioneer — 7 decades in the business! And as a philanthropist- having used his fame to raise close to a billion dollars for charitable causes.”
Angelica McDaniel, Executive VP, Daytime Programs and Syndicated Program Development for CBS Entertainment and CBS Television Distribution, called Hall “a television legend.”
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Monty Hall, a television legend who hosted a show and created a format that has entertained audiences for more than 50 years,” said McDaniel. “Monty’s infectious enthusiasm, humor, and warmth were a winning combination that was evident to everyone he encountered, whether returning to make appearances on the current version of Let’s Make A Deal, or gracing us with his presence at a photo shoot celebrating CBS Daytime earlier this year.
“On screen, Monty made the ‘Big Deals,’ but in the game of life, he himself was one. Our hearts go out to his children, his entire family and friends.”
Let’s Make a Deal was conceived by Hall with writer Stefan Hatos following Hall stints in New York radio and as the host of a Hollywood game show called Video Village. Let’s Make A Deal ran on NBC, ABC, in syndication, and in a nighttime version, finally being revived by CBS in 2009 with Wayne Brady as host.
Hall had a genial but smooth stage persona. He would start off buying an everyday item — a pen, a hard-boiled egg, a flower — from the studio audience and then offer to trade it for whatever was in a huge box or behind a stage door. The prizes were usually valuable. But occasionally, a guest would be “zonked,” in the show’s parlance, and wind up with cottage cheese or some other minor prize.
Born in Manitoba, Canada, Hall obtained a chemistry degree from the University of Manitoba. But bitten by the stage bug thanks to appearances in student shows, he left for New York. In 1955, he landed a role on a variety radio show.
Five years later, he moved to Hollywood and hosted Video Village, where contestants served as tokens moving around a game board. In 1963, Hall and writer Stefan Hatos conceived of Let’s Make A Deal, and the show would go on to air for 5,000 programs.
Hall is survived by a show-business family: daughters, Joanna Gleason, a Tony Award-winning actress, and Sharon Hall, a television executive; a son, Richard, an Emmy-winning producer for The Amazing Race; a brother, attorney Robert Hall; and five grandchildren. His wife, the former Marilyn Plottel, herself an Emmy-winning TV producer, died in June. They were married almost 70 years.