Thursday, October 5, 2017

Monty Hall Passes On

Monty Hall, best known as the long time host of the game show Let's Make a Deal, died on September 30 2017 at the age of 96.

Monty Hall was born Monte Halparin on August 25 1921 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He attended the University of Manitoba. While there he appeared in the college's musicals. He also worked at Winnipeg radio station CKRC. It was at that station that he shortened his last name to "Hall" and began spelling his first name as "Monty". He graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Science degree. He majored in chemistry and zoology.

In 1946 Mr. Hall moved to Toronto where he got a job at radio station CHUM. He would remain in Toronto for many years. He both produced and hosted programmes for various radio stations in Toronto. He was the host of Who Am I? on CFRB, which would be syndicated throughout Canada. He also produced TV shows for the Canadian Broadcasting Company. On CBC Television he was the host of The Little Revue, Floor Show, and Matinee Party.

It was in 1955 that Monty Hall moved to New York City. He was a regular on the NBC Radio programme Monitor. In 1960 he was the host of the CBS game show Video Village. It was after the cancellation of Video Village in 1962 that Monty Hall and writer Stefan Hatos created Let's Make a Deal. The show debuted on NBC on December 30 1963. Unlike many game shows of the time, Let's Make a Deal had a somewhat fluid structure, with selected audience members making deals with the host. Accounts vary as to how it happened, but audience members soon began wearing bizarre costumes in hopes of being selected to make deals on the show. Let's Make a Deal proved very successful. It rain on NBC until 1968, whereupon it moved to ABC where it ran until 1976. A syndicated, evening version also ran from 1971 to 1977. Let's Make a Deal has been revived several times. During the 1980-1981 season Monty Hall hosted a syndicated, evening version. He would also host the Let's Make a Deal revival of the 1990-1991 season.

In the Sixties Monty Hall was also a panellist on Hollywood Squares and a guest host on The Joey Bishop Show. In the Seventies he guest starred as himself on such shows as Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, The Flip Wilson Show, Wait Til Your Father Gets Home, The Dean Martin Show, That Girl, The Odd Couple, Dinah, and The Tonight Show. He actually acted in guest appearances on Love, American Style and The Love Boat. Monty Hall hosted the TV specials The Monty Hall Smokin-Stokin' Fire Brigade and Monty Hall's Variety Hour. He was a guest on Mitzi Gaynor's Mitzi and a Hundred Guys. He hosted the short-lived show It's Anybody's Guess.

In the Eighties Monty Hall hosted the shows The Joke's On Us, Split Second, and Star's Table. He regularly appeared in the Variety Club's series of All-Star Party... specials. In the Nineties Mr. Hall guest starred on The Wonder Years; Love & War; Newton's Apple; and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. In the Naughts he was a regular on The Surreal Live and Hollywood Squares. He appeared on Providence, That 70s Show, and The Florence Henderson Show. He also appeared in the new version of Let's Make a Deal. He appeared in the film When the World Breaks (2010). In the Teens he appeared in the documentary Gone South: How Canada Invented Hollywood (2014). 

There can be no doubt that Monty Hall was among the greatest game show hosts of all time, and certainly among the most famous. He was both genial and likeable, and he was able to extemporise with ease. He was remarkable in dealing with contestants, easily able to coax contestants into giving up what they already have and to nudge them along when they were taking a bit too long in making a decision. Since Monty Hall there have been other hosts of Let's Make a Deal, but none have been quite so entertaining.

Of course, it must be kept in mind that Monty Hall was not only the host of Let's Make a Deal, but its co-creator and one of its producers as well. In 1963 Let's Make a Deal was revolutionary, quite unlike any game show on at the time. It would also prove to have lasting success. It has aired on and off for the past 53 years. There should be little wonder it should have an impact on American popular culture. There is even a probability puzzled inspired by the game, the Monty Hall Problem. Monty Hall was a great game show host, but he also created a show that would prove to be incredibly popular and would have a lasting impact on pop culture. 

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