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Monty Hall

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Monty Hall
Monty Hall in 1976
Monte Halparin

(1921-08-25)August 25, 1921
DiedSeptember 30, 2017(2017-09-30) (aged 96)
Resting placeHillside Memorial Park Cemetery
Alma materUniversity of Manitoba (BS)
Occupation(s)Game show host, producer
Years active1946–2017
(m. 1947; died 2017)
Children3, including Joanna Gleason
RelativesMaggie Tokuda-Hall (granddaughter)

Monty Hall OC, OM (born Monte Halparin; August 25, 1921 – September 30, 2017) was a Canadian-American[1][2] radio and television show host who moved to the United States in 1955 to pursue a career in broadcasting. After working as a radio newsreader and sportscaster, Hall returned to television in the U.S., this time in game shows. Starting in 1963, he was best known as the game show host and producer of Let's Make a Deal.[1] He had a conundrum with game theory and psychology aspects named after him: the Monty Hall problem. Behind the scenes, Hall also carried on an active life of philanthropy.[3]

Early life[edit]

The handprints of Hall in front of Hollywood Hills Amphitheater at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park

Hall was born as Monte Halparin in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on August 25, 1921,[1] to Orthodox Jewish parents Maurice Harvey Halparin,[4] who owned a slaughterhouse, and Rose (née Rusen).[5] He was raised in Winnipeg's north end,[6] where he attended Lord Selkirk School (Elmwood, Winnipeg), and, later St. John's High School.[7] Hall graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Manitoba, where he majored in chemistry and zoology.[5] He was sponsored through university by Max Freed, a local businessman who was a customer of his father.[8] Originally though, Hall had hoped to go to medical school but was not admitted due to secret quotas[9] restricting the number of Jewish students admitted.


Hall's first radio job was working for CKRC radio in Winnipeg while still a student. He briefly worked for the Canadian Wheat Board after graduating before deciding to pursue a full-time career in broadcasting.[10] He moved to Toronto in 1946 and found a job with radio station CHUM, where management shortened his name to Hall and misspelled his first name as "Monty" on billboards, giving him the stage name "Monty Hall". For the next decade he hosted and produced a number of programs for radio stations in Toronto, as well as Who Am I? on CFRB,[9] which was distributed nationally in Canada through private syndication until 1959. He also had several short-lived programmes on CBC Television after it was launched in 1952, but when they were cancelled and another program he had conceived was taken away from him, Hall decided he had no future in Canadian television.[11]

Hall moved to New York City in 1955, attempting to break into American broadcasting, but commuted to Toronto several times a month to record episode blocks of Who Am I?[11] In New York, Hall hosted game shows such as Bingo at Home on WABD-TV and guest-hosted more established game shows such as Strike It Rich on CBS and Twenty-One on NBC.[11] On September 15, 1956, Hall began a seven-month stint hosting the Saturday afternoon series Cowboy Theater, broadcast nationally on the NBC network. Hall's segments were performed live from NBC's New York studio, and the films were Columbia Pictures' 1935-42 westerns starring Charles Starrett.[12]

Hall later hosted the children's program Fun in the Morning for WNEW (Ch. 5) in the early 1960s.[13] From 1956 to 1960, along with NBC Radio newsman Morgan Beatty, Hall co-hosted the Saturday night segment of the NBC Radio Network weekend program Monitor from 8 p.m. until midnight (EST).[14] At least two recordings of Hall on Monitor are known to exist.[15]

Hall was a radio analyst for the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League during the 1959–1960 season.[16]

He succeeded Jack Narz as host of a game show called Video Village, which ran from 1960 to 1962 on CBS.[17] From 1961 to 1962, Hall hosted its spinoff, Video Village Junior, which featured children.[11] After moving to Southern California, Hall became the host of the game show Let's Make a Deal, which he developed and produced with partner Stefan Hatos.[18]

Let's Make a Deal aired on NBC daytime from December 30, 1963, to December 27, 1968, and on ABC daytime from December 30, 1968, until July 9, 1976, along with two prime time runs.[13] It aired in syndication from 1971 to 1977, from 1980 to 1981, from 1984 to 1986, and again on NBC briefly from 1990 to 1991, with Hall replacing Bob Hilton, who had been dismissed. He was the producer or executive producer of the show through most of its runs. During the show's initial run, Hall appeared alongside model Carol Merrill and announcer Jay Stewart.[5] In 1969, he guest-starred on season 4, episode 5, of That Girl, playing Dr. Pellman, a dentist.

Hall at the 2017 Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival

Besides Let's Make a Deal, the game show Split Second, which originally ran on ABC from 1972 to 1975 with Tom Kennedy as host, and again in syndication in 1986 with Hall hosting that version, was the only other successful program from Hatos-Hall Productions.[17] In 1975, he published his autobiography, co-authored with Bill Libby, called Emcee Monty Hall. Other game shows from Hatos' and Hall's production company included Chain Letter in 1966; a revival of the venerable 1950s-era panel quiz Masquerade Party in 1974; Three for the Money in 1975; It's Anybody's Guess in 1977, which reunited Let's Make a Deal announcer Jay Stewart with Hall, who also hosted the show; and the Canadian-based The Joke's on Us in 1983.[13] Hall filled in as guest host on several daytime game shows while Let's Make a Deal was on NBC, most notably What's This Song? and PDQ.[18]

In 1979, Hall hosted the only game show since Video Village which he did not produce, Goodson-Todman's All-New Beat the Clock.[17] Also, in 1979, Hall made an appearance on the game show Password Plus as a game show contestant, followed by another week of appearances in August 1980 (just before the launch of the upcoming Canadian-produced Let's Make a Deal revival, which he took the opportunity to plug). He appeared as himself on "The Promise Ring" episode of That '70s Show in 2001.[5] He played the host of a beauty pageant who schemed to become "the world's most powerful game show host" in the Disney animated series American Dragon: Jake Long.[17] He appeared on GSN Live on March 14, 2008, and hosted a game of Let's Make a Deal for Good Morning America on August 18, 2008, as part of Game Show Reunion week.[18]

In summer 2009, CBS announced that it was reviving Let's Make a Deal on its daytime schedule.[19] The show premiered on October 5, 2009, with Wayne Brady as host. Hall was credited as "Creative Consultant" until he died in 2017, and remains credited as co-creator of the format (with Stefan Hatos), as per many international versions of the show, with Hatos/Hall Productions being credited as co-production company (with Fremantle). Hall made appearances in 2010 and 2013 during the Brady run, and had been part of publicity photos in early 2017 to promote season nine.[19]


Hall spent much of his off time involved in philanthropic work. His family says he was always going to telethons and helped raise close to $1 billion for charity in his lifetime.[3] Hall was repeatedly honored for his charitable efforts. Wards at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto and Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia are named in his honor.[20]

Hall, who said that charitable work was the driving force in his life, even went so far as to conceive a television series where he would assist people who were having troubles through various connections he had made through his philanthropic efforts. Partnering with Worldvision Enterprises, Hall's series was titled For the People and a pilot was shot for the 1986 NATPE convention; he would be devoting himself full-time to the new series, thus stepping down from Let's Make a Deal at the end of the 1985-86 season regardless of whether or not it was renewed for a third season (it would not be). However, the pilot did not receive enough interest in the crowded syndication market at the time and the concept never made it to television.[21]


Hall's star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Hall received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on August 24, 1973, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars in 2000,[22] and in 2002, he was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.[23]

Hall is one of three game show hosts—along with Alex Trebek and Howie Mandel—on both Hollywood's and Canada's Walks of Fame. In May 1988, Her Excellency, Jeanne Sauvé, the Governor-General of Canada appointed him an Officer of the prestigious The Order of Canada for his humanitarian work in Canada and other nations of the world.[9] In 2003, His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba appointed him a Member of the Order of Manitoba.

He was the recipient of the 2005 Ralph Edwards Service Award from the Game Show Congress, in recognition of all the work the emcee-producer has done for charity through the years. On October 13, 2007, Hall was one of the first inductees into the American TV Game Show Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hall received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 Daytime Emmy Awards.[24]

Personal life[edit]

On September 28, 1947, Hall married Marilyn Doreen Plottel (May 17, 1927 – June 5, 2017); the two had been introduced by a mutual cousin, Norman Shnier, the previous year.[25] They later became United States citizens.[2][1] They had three children: Tony Award–winning actress Joanna Gleason; Sharon Hall Kessler, a former producer and now an executive at Marcus/Glass Entertainment, which is the legal successor company to Hatos-Hall Productions; and Richard Hall, an Emmy Award–winning television producer. Monty and Marilyn lived in Beverly Hills, California, from 1962 until their deaths; Marilyn died four months before her husband.[26]


Hall died from heart failure on September 30, 2017, at his home in Beverly Hills a little over a month after his 96th birthday.[13][18] He was interred at Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery on October 3.[27]

Monty Hall Problem[edit]

Hall's name is used in a probability puzzle known as the "Monty Hall problem". The name was conceived by statistician Steve Selvin who used the title in describing a probability problem to Scientific American in 1975 based on one of the games on Let's Make a Deal,[28][29] and more popularized when it was presented in a weekly national newspaper column by Marilyn vos Savant in 1990.[30]

A host ("Monty") provides a player with three doors, one containing a valuable prize and the other two containing a "gag", valueless prize. The contestant is offered a choice of one of the doors without knowledge of the content behind them. "Monty", who knows which door has the prize, opens a door that the player did not select that has a gag prize, and then offers the player the option to switch from their choice to the other remaining unopened door. The probability problem arises from asking if the player should switch to the unrevealed door.

Mathematically, the problem shows that a player switching to the other door has a 23 chance of winning under standard conditions, but this is a counterintuitive effect of switching one's choice of doors, and the problem gained wide attention due to conflicting views following vos Savant's publication, with many asserting that the probability of winning had dropped to 12 if one switched. A number of other solutions become possible if the problem setup is outside of the "standard conditions" defined by vos Savant: that the host equally selects one of the two gag prize doors if the player had first picked the winning prize, and the offer to switch is always presented.

Hall explained the solution to that problem in an interview with The New York Times reporter John Tierney in 1991.[31] In the article, Hall pointed out that because he had control over the way the game progressed, playing on the psychology of the contestant, the theoretical solution did not apply to the show's actual gameplay. He said he was not surprised at the experts' insistence that the probability was 1 out of 2. "That's the same assumption contestants would make on the show after I showed them there was nothing behind one door," he said. "They'd think the odds on their door had now gone up to 1 in 2, so they hated to give up the door no matter how much money I offered. By opening that door we were applying pressure. We called it the Henry James treatment. It was 'The Turn of the Screw.'" Hall clarified that as a game show host, he was not required to follow the rules of the puzzle as Marilyn vos Savant often explains in her weekly column in Parade, and did not always allow a person the opportunity to switch. For example, he might open their door immediately if it was a losing door, might offer them money to not switch from a losing door to a winning door, or might only allow them the opportunity to switch if they had a winning door. "If the host is required to open a door all the time and offer you a switch, then you should take the switch," he said. "But if he has the choice whether to allow a switch or not, beware. Caveat emptor. It all depends on his mood."[31]


  1. ^ a b c d Hall, Monty; Libby, Bill (1973). Emcee Monty Hall. New York: Grosset & Dunlap. ISBN 0-448-01551-X.
  2. ^ a b Monty Hall obituary, cnn.com. September 30, 2017.
  3. ^ a b Almasy, Steve; Marco, Tony (September 30, 2017). "Monty Hall, 'Let's Make a Deal' host, dead at 96". CNN. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
  4. ^ Atkins, Irene Kahn. Monty Hall [interview]. New York: American Jewish Committee, Oral History Library, 1976.
  5. ^ a b c d "Monty Hall profile". filmreference.com. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  6. ^ Knelman, Martin (October 7, 2009). "How Monty Hall made a deal with fame". The Star. Toronto. Retrieved May 13, 2010.
  7. ^ "St. John's High School hits 100". CBC News. June 18, 2010.
  8. ^ "The Gift: How One Act of Kindness Changed a Life". Issuu. Retrieved June 19, 2022.
  9. ^ a b c "Famed Winnipegger Monty Hall dead at 96; Hall co-created Let's Make a Deal, which debuted on NBC in 1963 and became a TV staple". CBCnews. CBC/Radio-Canada. The Canadian Press. September 30, 2017.
  10. ^ "Canadian game show host Monty Hall dies at 96 - Entertainment & Showbiz from CTV News". www.ctvnews.ca. September 30, 2017.
  11. ^ a b c d "Monty Hall". Archive of American Television. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation. 2013.
  12. ^ NBC Trade News, "'Cowboy Theater' with Monty Hall as host, to Be Saturday Daytime Feature on NBC-TV," August 24, 1956.
  13. ^ a b c d "Let's Make A Deal' host Monty Hall dead at 96". Fox News Channel. September 30, 2017. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  14. ^ "Monitor's Communicators". Archived from the original on May 11, 2008. Retrieved May 22, 2008.
  15. ^ "The Sounds of NBC Monitor". Retrieved January 9, 2015. Morgan Beatty and Monty Hall host Monitor '58", "Monty Hall & Bob Wilson host Monitor '59
  16. ^ Halligan, John. "Alumni Spotlight". Archived from the original on April 17, 2007. Retrieved June 8, 2007.
  17. ^ a b c d "Monty Hall, Creator and Host of 'Let's Make A Deal', Dies at 96". The New York Times. September 30, 2017. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
  18. ^ a b c d Nyren, Erin (September 30, 2017). "Monty Hall, Host of 'Let's Make A Deal,' Dies at 96". Variety. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  19. ^ a b CBS broadcast of "Let's Make a Deal," October 5, 2009.
  20. ^ Elber, Lynn. "Obituaries Monty Hall, host and co-creator of TV's long-running 'Let's Make a Deal,' dies at 96". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
  21. ^ Wilson, John M. (June 13, 1986). "MONTY HALL'S CHARITY DREAM IS PUT ON HOLD". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 10, 2024.
  22. ^ "Palm Springs Walk of Stars" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 13, 2012. Retrieved January 9, 2015.
  23. ^ "Canada's Walk of Fame—2002 Inductees". Retrieved October 5, 2022.
  24. ^ "Monty Hall receiving award at Emmys". Winnipeg Free Press. June 11, 2013. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  25. ^ Marble, Steve (June 7, 2017). "Marilyn Hall, Emmy-winning producer and wife of game show host Monty Hall, dies at 90". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  26. ^ Coleman, Laura (December 26, 2014). "Beverly Hills Elders: Marilyn & Monty Hall – Emmy Winners, Patrons" (PDF). Beverly Hills Courier. XXXXIX (51): 1. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 27, 2014. Retrieved January 9, 2015.
  27. ^ Torok, Ryan (September 30, 2017). "Monty Hall, philanthropist and host of 'Let's Make a Deal,' dies at 96". Jewish Journal.
  28. ^ Selvin, Steve (February 1975a). "A problem in probability". American Statistician (letter to the editor). 29 (1): 67. JSTOR 2683689.
  29. ^ Selvin, Steve (August 1975b). "On the Monty Hall problem". American Statistician (letter to the editor). 29 (3): 134. JSTOR 2683443.
  30. ^ vos Savant, Marilyn. "Game Show Problem". marilynvossavant. Archived from the original on January 21, 2013. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
  31. ^ a b Tierney, John (July 21, 1991). "Behind Monty Hall's Doors: Puzzle, Debate and Answer?". The New York Times. Retrieved January 11, 2017.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Host of Let's Make a Deal
Succeeded by
Preceded by Host of Beat the Clock
Succeeded by
Preceded by Host of Split Second
Succeeded by
Preceded by Host of Let's Make a Deal
Succeeded by