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Here’s What Happened to Monty Hall Before, During and After Hosting Game Show ‘Let’s Make a Deal’

During the original run of the classic TV daytime game show Let’s Make a Deal, series host Monty Hall brought the idea of bartering to a whole new level. The idea was incredibly simple: take a studio audience and offer them prizes, not once, but multiple times.

In other words, Monty would pick a contestant and hand them, say, $500 in an envelope, much to said contestant’s joy. But then he would offer them the chance to trade that $500 for a different prize behind a curtain. Oftentimes, the contestant would decide to go for the mysterious prize, until Monty upped the money in the envelope to $600, then $700 and so on. Sometimes the choice would pay off, but just as often, the hidden prize was much worse (including things like your own goat).

Stefan Hatos/Monty Hall Prods/Kobal/Shutterstock

“Nobody ever cried with disappointment,” Monty told The Times-Advocate in 1974 after he’d hosted his 3,000th episode. “Never once did we have to edit the show because somebody uttered an expletive. Imagine people losing a car and getting a pig instead — you’d think that someone would have blurted out something. It’s a tribute to the innate decency and self-censorship of people that the worse thing they ever do is sit down with a thud.”

Let’s Make a Deal began on NBC from 1963 to 1968, then shifted to ABC from 1968 until 1976, with the network also airing a pair of prime time versions. That’s a hell of a run, which Monty tried to explain in a 1965 interview. “People are out to win something, true, but Let’s Make a Deal isn’t based entirely on greed,” he noted. “People are exercising their gambling instinct. Remember, no one gambles anything of value of their own. They gamble only with what they’ve won from us. Women risk more than men. The husbands back away once they’ve won something, but women get a gleam in their eye and want to try for more. People try most anything to get on the trading floor. Every night we have people lining up for 550 seats. Only 42 are selected to get into the trading floor where they have a chance to deal with me. We’re used to all sorts of bribery. We have the best-fed crew in the nation. Cakes, cookies, salami …”

Adam Nedeff wrote a book on Monty, but beyond that, he’s a game show expert, having worked on them (including Double Dare, The Price is Right and Wheel of Fortune) and written a wide variety of works on the subject. As he explains in an exclusive interview, the critics targeted the show largely because of the excited nature of the audience, the fact that so many of them wore Halloween costumes no matter the time of year (more on that later) and that it wasn’t a situation where contestants were required to answer challenging questions.

“It wasn’t a game show where you had to demonstrate any kind of skill,” he explains. “It was, ‘Do you want the box or do you want what’s behind the curtain?’ And based on the fact that if you chose the curtain instead of the box, you got $5,000 cash or you got a new car, people were just dismayed by the fact, ‘Oh my God, this is a show?’ The other side of it is that if you really sit down and actually watch the show, you can seen an affinity that he has for the contestants that he’s on stage with. He’s really having a lot of fun. The show is just charming and it’s not doing any kind of harm to anybody.”

For much more on Monty Hall and Let’s Make a Deal, please scroll down.