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The long-running game show Let’s Make A Deal required no skill, no knowledge, and no special abilities for contestants to win wonderful prizes.
Studio audience members, usually dressed in silly costumes, traded homemade items they had brought with them for hidden prizes, which ranged from worthless “zonks” (nonsense prizes) to highly valuable items – such as a colour television set or $5,000 in cash.
At the end of each show, the two contestants who had won the greatest amount of money (prize values were added up) were asked to pick one of three doors and trade whatever they had already won for the “Big Deal of the Day”, which was worth at least $10,000.
At one point during the show’s highly successful run in syndication, the wait time for a ticket was two to three years. There were only 350 seats in the audience and potential traders really wanted a shot at the big prizes.
Host Monty Hall developed and produced the show with his partner, Stefan Hatos. Courteous and pleasant – even to aggressive contestants who were sometimes positively obnoxious – Hall was always a perfect host and gentleman. Assisting Hall was announcer Jay Stewart and model Carol Merrill.
Almost 4,000 Let’s Make A Deal shows were produced during the series’ network years alone.
It aired mostly in daytime and in syndication, but it did have network prime-time runs on NBC and ABC in the 1960s and 70s.
In 1990, the show resurfaced as a daytime show produced by the Disney/MGM studios with Bob Hilton acting as host. It also had a brief revival on NBC in 2003. The show was also franchised to Australia and Canada.
Monty Hall died on 30 September 2017 as a result of heart failure at his home in Beverly Hills, California. He was 96.