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Monty Hall (1921–2017), slick-talking host of “Let’s Make a Deal”

by Legacy Staff

Co-creator and host of the classic game show “Let’s Make a Deal.”

Monty Hall, the host of the classic TV game show “Let’s Make a Deal,” died Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017 of heart failure at his home in Beverly Hills, according to The New York Times. He was 96.

Born Aug. 25, 1921, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Hall majored in chemistry and zoology at the University of Manitoba but later took a much different career path. By 1946, he was working as a radio announcer, and he soon moved on to TV shows — children’s shows like “Cowboy Theater,” game shows including “Bingo at Home” and even the news magazine “Monitor.”


“Let’s Make a Deal” was Hall’s brainchild along with his business partner, Stefan Hatos. The popular game show debuted in 1963 and ran for years in multiple formats: as a daytime show on NBC, a weekly nighttime program on ABC, in syndication and on Canadian TV. Hall hosted and produced them all until 1986, including a syndicated version known as “The All-New Let’s Make a Deal.” In recent years, “Let’s Make a Deal” has undergone a revival featuring Wayne Brady as host.

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Wherever and whenever the game show aired, its concept was a constant: Players, known as “traders,” were given a moderate prize and offered the opportunity to trade it for an unknown prize. That unknown could be a fabulous vacation, a new car or an impressive sum of cash. Or it could be a “Zonk” — an undesirable prize like a live animal or fake money. The prizes and Zonks were offered as part of a variety of trading and pricing games.

The show grew hugely popular, topping daytime and syndication ratings. And it presented pop culture with a puzzler: the “Monty Hall Problem.” In a nutshell, the Monty Hall Problem seeks to answer the question of whether the Trader should, as a rule, keep the moderate prize or go for the unknown.

Other shows created and hosted by Hall include “Split Second,” “Chain Letter” and “It’s Anybody’s Guess.” Hall also made appearances on TV shows including “That ’70s Show” and “Good Morning America.”

Hall has stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Canada’s Walk of Fame and the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars, and he received a lifetime achievement award from the Daytime Emmy Awards. He was a member of the American TV Game Show Hall of Fame. Hall was preceded in death by his wife, Marilyn, who died in June. He is survived by their children, Joanna, Sharon and Richard. 

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