Monty Hall, the smooth-talking host of “Let’s Make a Deal” died Saturday. He was 96.
Sharon Hall says her father died of heart failure at his home in Beverly Hills.
Born Monte Halperin in Winnipeg, Canada, Hall moved to the United States in 1955, where he worked for NBC on radio and television and later CBS, hosting various programs.
He hosted the game show “Keep Talking” in 1958 but his career path was sealed for certain when, with partner Stefan Hatos, he co-created “Let’s Make a Deal” and in 1963 started offering contestants “Door No. 1, door No. 2 or door No.3.”
Contestants were chosen from the studio audience — outlandishly dressed as animals, clowns or cartoon characters to attract the host’s attention — and would start the game by trading an item of their own for a prize. After that, it was matter of swapping the prize in hand for others hidden behind doors, curtains or in boxes,
The energetic, quick-thinking Hall, a sight himself with his sideburns and colorful sports coats, was deemed the perfect host in Alex McNeil’s reference book, “Total Television.”
“Monty kept the show moving while he treated the outrageously garbed and occasionally greedy contestants courteously; it is hard to imagine anyone else but Hall working the trading area as smoothly,” McNeil wrote.
Hall hosted “Let’s Make a Deal” for 23 years on all three U.S. broadcast TV networks. Although it was off the air twice (from 1977-80 and 1981-84) the show was a popular staple of daytime television on NBC, CBS and ABC for decades. It ended its run on NBC in 1991 before returning to CBS in 2009 with Wayne Brady as host.
Hatos and Hall created other shows — “Split Second,” “Chain Letter,” “3 for the Money,” “Anybody’s Guess” — but none ever reached the same enduring level of popularity as “Let’s Make a Deal.”
Hall and his show even spawned a mathematical brain teaser. The Monty Hall Problem uses his familiar doors to teach a little bit about odds and probabilities.
Outside the studio, Hall became a major fundraiser for Variety Clubs International and other charitable causes.
With his wife Marilyn he had three children who all went into entertainment. Daughter Joanna Gleason won a Tony award in 1987 for her role in Broadway’s “Into the Woods” and has worked in television and film. Daughter Sharon Hall and son Richard Hall also both worked behind the scenes in television.
He was made a member of the Order of Canada and has his name on Canada’s Walk of Fame in Toronto, as well as Hollywood’s more famous original and another in Palm Springs.
Although he became an American citizen and raised his family in Beverly Hills, Hall never forgot Canada or his hometown and made many visits back to Winnipeg.
“You can take the boy out of Canada but you can’t take Canada out of the boy,” he once said. “I still follow and pull for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and I still pull for Canada when they play the Olympic hockey.”
His daughter Sharon said he enjoyed his fame and never turned down an autograph or a chance to use his name to help others.
She estimates he raised nearly $1 billion for charity over his lifetime.
Hall was remembered by leaders in his home province on Saturday. Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister tweeted his condolences saying the entertainer “brought comfort and joy to so many.”