Monty Hall, who co-created and hosted the game show “Let’s Make A Deal” for nearly 40 years, died of heart failure Saturday at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 96.
“Let’s Make a Deal” premiered in 1963 and has been a staple of television ever since.
CBS, which revived the show in 2009 with comedian Wayne Brady as host, called Hall “a television legend.”
“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,” said Angelica McDaniel, CBS’ executive VP of daytime programs and syndicated program development. “On screen, Monty made the ‘Big Deals,’ but in the game of life, he himself was one.”
Hall hosted various game shows and other programs in his early career until he developed “Let’s Make a Deal” with creative partner Stefan Hatos. The show became legendary for encouraging audience members to dress up in outlandish costumes in order to attract Hall’s attention in the hopes of being given the opportunity to win big.
“Deal’s” format revolves around allowing contestants to compete for prizes that they then have the chance to trade up for more valuable prizes albeit with the risk of losing it all with a “zonk,” or a booby prize. Hall famously at the end of each episode tempted contestants with the “Big Deal” option of choosing a prize package hidden behind “Door No. 1, Door No. 2 or Door No. 3.”
Hall and Hatos produced several other game shows under their production company through the 1970s and ’80s. Hall continued to host “Let’s Make a Deal” for nearly 5,000 episodes, as the show traveled from NBC to ABC to primetime in syndication and CBS.
“Deal” became so ingrained in pop culture that it spawned “The Monty Hall Problem,” a thought experiment in probability that involves three doors, two goats, and a prize.
Hall received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1973, and, as a Canadian native, was named to the Order of Canada in 1988.
Born Monte Halparin, he was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family in Winnipeg, where he started his career in radio.
He is survived by three children: actress Joanna Gleason, who confirmed his death; TV exec Sharon Hall; and TV producer Richard Hall, in addition to a brother and five grandchildren. His wife Marilyn died in June.