For more than two decades, Monty Hall was host of TV's "Let's Make a Deal"
His family says Hall helped to raise close to $1 billion for charity during his life
Monty Hall, best known as the cheerful and friendly host of the game show ‘Let’s Make a Deal,’ died Saturday morning in Los Angeles, his daughter Sharon Hall said.
He was 96 and had been ill since suffering a heart attack shortly after his wife of almost 70 years died in June.
“He was the greatest father on the planet … he was the dad who called every single night to see how your day was and never tired of hearing the details. He lived for his family,” Sharon Hall said.
Monty Hall co-created and hosted the first version of the popular game show, on which contestants dressed in costumes – some zany – and often won prizes behind one of three doors. The show premiered in 1963 and Hall hosted daytime and prime-time iterations of the show until 1986 (and for a brief time in 1991).
Hall reportedly appeared in more than 4,500 episodes.
A version of the show starring Wayne Brady is still on the air.
Hall once told the Archive of American Television that when “Let’s Make a Deal” started, people showed up in suits and dresses. On the second episode, a woman brought a sign with the message: “Roses are red, violets are blue, I came here to deal with you.”
“The next week, everybody had a sign,” Hall said in the 2002 interview. “Then somebody else had a funny hat, then came costumes.”
Hall insisted the show never picked anyone for their costume.
The show featured Hall getting audience members to gamble on whether they should keep small prizes they had traded their own stuff for – or risk trading them for what was in a box or behind curtains. Sometimes the new prize was something odd like a salami tree or a double-decker dining room set. The lesser-desired prizes came to be known as zonks.
At the end of the show, two big winners would compete for prizes behind three doors.
Philanthropy dominated his post-“Deal” days
Hall said he wanted to be remembered as someone who cared for his family and others.
His family said he helped to raise close to $1 billion for charity during his life.
“His philanthropy work was more important to him than his TV work. He saw TV as a means to help him raise money for charities. He was always paying it forward,” son-in-law Todd Kessler told CNN.
Several media reports said Hall devoted 200 days a year for fundraisers.
Sharon Hall said her father was always working for charities because of a life-changing experience he had as a young man.
“He took a job scrubbing steps to try to pay for his college, and a man took pity on him and told him he would pay for his college if he did three things: retain an A average, keep the man’s name anonymous, and promise to pay it forward,” she said.
Monty Hall retained a friendship with the man whose name he never revealed.
“He was always going to telethons to raise money. He was even honored with the … Order of Canada, the highest honor for a Canadian,” his daughter said.
Monty Hall was a dual citizen of the United States and Canada. “He became a US citizen so he could vote for Bill Clinton (in 1992),” Sharon Hall said.
Brian Bowman, the mayor of Winnipeg, Manitoba, sent his condolences by Twitter.
“Winnipeg’s ambassador in Hollywood, @umanitoba alumni & host of ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ has left our stage. RIP Monty.”
Hall was born in Winnipeg on August 25, 1921, as Maurice Halperin, according to the Internet Movie Database. Hall said he went by Monte but when he got into show business his name was misspelled in advertisements.
He is survived by three children who are all involved in entertainment. Sharon Hall is a producer; Joanna Gleason is a Tony Award-winning actress; and Richard Hall is a writer and director. His late wife, Marilyn, was an Emmy Award-winning producer.