Do you have a hard-boiled egg in your purse? What about a stamp in your wallet? Nowadays, if asked questions like these, many people would walk away, but there was a time when if it were Monty Hall posing the questions, you knew you could walk away with some cold, hard cash.
In the game show world, that's a legacy worthy of recognition.
Hall, the lovable, longtime host of “Let’s Make A Deal, ” will join game show producer Bob Stewart in receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Daytime Emmys on Sunday, June 16 on HLN. Hall, a former chemistry and zoology major and the son of a Canadian butcher, said he’s humbled to receive the honor.
“I’m just glad I got it in my lifetime. It’s been a lifetime of appearances,” he said in an HLN interview.
The 91-year-old wheeler-and-dealer, who brought the word “zonk” to the cultural lexicon and has likely given away millions of dollars and prizes, said the concept for “Let’s Make A Deal” was a joint effort.
“I created a show, 'Your First Impression,' on NBC and I worked with a man, Steve Halos. We would often meet for lunch and we came up with the idea,” Hall said. “He had one version of it and I had another version of it, and we just melded the two together.”
Hall said both men tried to sell the show to two networks (ABC and NBC), but they turned it down. Eventually, NBC, like the show's costumed contestants, decided to take a chance that “Let’s Make A Deal” would be a success, and the rest is game show history.
When asked what his favorite moment from the show was, Hall admitted it was a tough question.
“I had over 5,000 favorable moments. There’s were so many things; curtains opening when they weren’t supposed to, animals going crazy backstage, so it’s hard to pick one,” he said. “Let’s just say it’s been a montage of memorable moments.”
Hall said his show was unique when it debuted because most of the other game shows at the time had a question-answer format.
"The show was different because we went into a live audience and picked people at random," he said. "It was a show that people could look at on TV and think 'that could be me on there.'"
Hall said he knows all of the original game show hosts, like Bob Eubanks and Wink Martindale, who changed the TV landscape over the years, but he doesn't see them much anymore. But he was glad to get a call from one of his game show host brethren.
"The first call I got after I heard I was getting the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Daytime Emmys was from [former " The Price is Right" host] Bob Barker, and I hadn’t seen him for so long because we have our own separate lives. But he was first to call and offer me congratulations.”
"Let’s Make a Deal" is one of the rare shows that has been on TV’s big-three networks (NBC, ABC and CBS) and found its way into people’s homes for five decades. The show, in its current incarnation, is now hosted by comedian Wayne Brady, and Hall said he couldn’t be happier with the way the show has evolved.
“When we brought the show back a few years ago, CBS gave us a studio and let us audition different hosts. My daughter suggested I try Wayne Brady, who was in Las Vegas. So I talked with him and asked him, would you come in and talk with me? He said yes,” he said. “So, he came out; we made the pilot and it was great. He’s been a great hit ever since.”
Hall is still active in entertainment; he recently made an appearance on “Let’s Make A Deal” with Brady and original “Deal” model Carol Merrill. But, he said, these days he devotes more time to his charitable efforts than TV work.
“I’m very much into charitable work. I’ve worked with Variety, the children’s charity, for a long time, and emceed 65 telethons. It’s a big part of my life,” he said.
Hall also made a great personal deal: He's been married to his wife, Marilyn, for 65 years. He said there aren’t many secrets to having a successful marriage.
“You got to have the right person, preferably a person with a great sense of humor,” he said. “You also need to be there for that person and hopefully that person will be there for you. But it’s a mutual job that takes mutual respect. And it takes a lot of love.”
Hall also speaks highly of his children, all of whom are successful in the entertainment business.
“My daughter, Joanna Gleason, won a Tony award. My son, Richard, had produced a couple of reality TV shows and my other daughter, Sharon, is president of Alcon Entertainment, so they’re all doing well,” he said.
“Although, none of them send money home.”