Iconic game-show host Monty Hall died Saturday at age 96.
His agent, Mark Measures, confirmed to USA TODAY that Hall, who co-created and presided over Let's Make a Deal from 1963 to 1986, died of heart failure.
Hall, who was born Monte Halparin in Winnipeg in 1921 and graduated from the University of Manitoba, worked as an entertainer and sportscaster in Toronto before heading south to New York in 1955 to host the NBC radio show Monitor. His next gig, the CBS-TV game show Video Village, led him west to Los Angeles, where he would create Deal with Stefan Hatos.
Together, they turned bartering and kitsch into a TV franchise that has seen four hosts and three networks. Deal, which aired on NBC until 1976, also ran on ABC and in syndication before returning to network TV 2009 on CBS with host Wayne Brady (Whose Line Is It Anyway?).
Contestants came dressed in goofy costumes in hopes of catching Hall's eye and a chance to trade prizes for better ones, prompting Hall to ask, "Do you want Door No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3?”
Hall was nonchalant about dealing with the litany of loony types who paraded across his stage.
“I’m a people person,” he said on the PBS documentary series Pioneers of Television. “And so I don’t care if they jump on me, and I don’t care if they yell and they fainted. Those are my people.”
One of the first inductees to the Game Show Hall of Fame, he also received a lifetime-achievement Emmy in 2013 from Brady, the current host of Let's Make a Deal.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Monty Hall, a television legend who hosted a show and created a format that has entertained audiences for more than 50 years,” said Angelica McDaniel, executive vice president for daytime programs and syndicated program development for CBS Entertainment and CBS Television Distribution.
“Monty’s infectious enthusiasm, humor and warmth were a winning combination that was evident to everyone he encountered, whether returning to make appearances on the current version of Let's Make a Deal, or gracing us with his presence at a photo shoot celebrating CBS Daytime earlier this year. On screen, Monty made the ‘big deals,’ but in the game of life, he himself was one. Our hearts go out to his children, his entire family and friends.”
Hall was married to TV and theater producer Marilyn Doreen Plottel, a fellow Winnipeg native, from 1947 until her death in June. They had three children: a son and two daughters, including Tony-winning actress Joanna Gleeson.
Contributing: The Associated Press