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Monty Hall Dies; MC/Creator of ‘Let’s Make a Deal” Game Show


Venerable TV game how host Monty Hall, one of the last of the classic game show MCs who helmed many such shows, but is primarily remembered as the original host of “Let’s Make a Deal,” died this passed weekend. He was 96.

Hall was born Monte Halparin in Winnipeg, Canada, into an Orthodox Jewish family. Hall was the son of a kosher butcher, but he went to college and had loftier goals.


He had hoped to go onto medical school while in college, but quotas on Jewish students that were in place in Canada at the time prevented him from continuing his studies.


He also enjoyed acting, and after appearing in several college shows—and appearing on radio while still a student, he went into radio in his native Canada. Using his new monicker of “Monty Hall”—evidently a misspelling of his first name and a shortening of his second name–he starred in and produced several radio shows on Canadian radio.


In the mid 1950s, he moved to New York and tried to break into American radio and television, having some success on local New York shows and even some national shows, and he also was a radio analyst for the New York Rangers hockey team for one season.


Later, he relocated to California, and with partner Stefan Hatos, he developed “Let’s Make a Deal,” where the standard game show was turned topsy turvy: where the audience sat became the main stage for the show, and Hall would move around into the audience, speaking to people and giving them the chance for money and prizes if they did things just right.


The show became known for the crazy costumes people wore to get noticed, but that was not an original design of the show. The show’s audience wore the costumes, unprompted, to get noticed, and the show went with it, and is best known for that to this day.


And the show was also known for bringing the word “zonked” into the vernacular, as contestants who chose bad prizes were “zonked.”


The show has been on the air in one form or another almost continuously since the early 1960s, and is currently hosted by Wayne Brady.


Hall’s children are all TV veterans. His daughter Joanna Gleason is a popular actress; his other daughter, Sharon Hall is a top TV executive; and his son Richard Hall is a TV producer who won an Emmy for “The Amazing Race.”

Lawrence Lapka

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