Monty Hall was the original host for one of TV's most beloved gameshows, Let's Make a Deal, from 1963 to 1986 and then briefly again in 1991. The Los Angeles Times reports that the cheerful and friendly host passed away on Saturday morning after suffering a heart attack back in June at the age of 96. Hall had the heart attack shortly after his wife of 70 years passed away and his health had been on the decline ever since. His daughter, Sharon Hall, said, "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."

Monty Hall co-created and hosted the first incarnation of Let's Make a Deal, which is currently still on the air with host Wayne Brady. It has been reported that Hall appeared in over 4,500 episodes of the hit game show. When the show first started, it featured men and women dressed in formal attire, but by the second and 3rd episode, people started wearing zany suits and costumes that became a staple of Let's Make a Deal. The show featured the late host Hall getting audience members to gamble on whether they should keep the little 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 or it was something much better. The lesser-desired prizes came to be known as zonks.

Monty Hall was born in Winnipeg, Canada on August 25th, 1921 as Maurice Halperin. Hall worked scrubbing steps in order to earn money for college when a man took pity on him and offered to pay for his schooling. Sharon Hall explains.

"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."

Monty Hall agreed to the stipulations and kept a friendship with the man over the years that changed his life and never revealed who he was publicly. In addition, Hall more than paid it forward with his charitable works over the years.

The family of Monty Hall estimates that the entertainer raised nearly a billion dollars over the years for various charities. It has also been reported that even in his advanced age, Hall would donate up to 200 days a year to working telethons and working for whatever charities that he could. By Hall's own estimates, he was able to raise $700 million from donors in the 1990s alone. In the end, Monty Hall said that he wanted to be remembered for helping people rather than his celebrity status. When a People magazine interviewer suggested in 1996 that "Let's Make a Deal" would be his epitaph, Hall replied, with a wince: "You put that on my tombstone, and I'll kill you."

In addition to his philanthropic work and hosting duties, Monty Hall also acted in TV shows and commercials. He appeared on That 70s Show, The Dean Martin Show, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, The Surreal Life, The Girls Next Door, The Love Boat, Providence, The Nanny, and many more. Hall also played a key role in the first season of Showtime's I'm Dying Up Here. Hall was repeatedly honored for his charity efforts, which he truly wanted to be remembered for, with awards including the Order of Canada, Order of Manitoba and Variety Clubs International's Humanitarian Award. Wards were named in his honor at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia and other medical centers. The Los Angeles Times also reports that Monty Hall used his celebrity to do important things. Hall explained.

"It has to be OK. It was my ticket to fame and fortune. But it also gave me the opportunity to do something really important, raising funds for charity. ... That's more important than three doors."

The host also had a key role on the first season of Showtime's I'm Dying Up Here. In addition to his daughters, Monty Hall is survived by his son, Richard; a brother, Robert Hall of Toronto, Canada, and five grandchildren. RIP Monty Hall.

Kevin Burwick at TVweb
Kevin Burwick