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LET’S MAKE A DEAL! The Monty Hall Version

Entertainment | October 27, 2017

The “Let’s Make a Deal,” game show originally aired from 1963-1977. The premise of which, is that the studio audience participated in the show. Other game shows at the time were comprised of contestants that were pre-selected and the audience was merely there to observe. Let’s make a deal was surprisingly different. Monty Hall, the host, began the show by meandering throughout the studio, choosing audience members at random to try their hand at a game of chance.

The first season of the show opened with Hall scanning the audience looking for someone who, for one reason or another, stood out to him. Keep in mind that early on, men and women who comprised the television show audience, wore suits and dresses; as they usually dressed on any given day to go to a public place. Not only was this a public place, but it was being televised and a person always wants to look their best if, by chance, they are caught on camera! Monty Hall reportedly chose one of his first contestants because her hat caught his attention. After that tidbit got out, people took it upon themselves to do whatever was necessary to stand out in a crowd. By the third week of the broadcast, audience members were coming in outrageous outfits and that is how the wacky costumes became a fixture of the show. Contestants wore everything from clown costumes to live bird hats! Now that is an attention getter!

Contestants would show up with over-the-top costumes, signs, noisemakers and other props. Normally well respected and reasonably sane adults, were willing to put themselves in a crazy spotlight with hopes of it paying off. They also brought along anything and everything they could think of that was reasonably able to be carried on their person. The reason being is that they knew Hall would offer money for anyone that could produce some random item; usually things that you wouldn’t normally carry on a day to day basis. My grandmother would have given Monty Hall a run for his money! If you ever need something, she usually had it in her purse! At times, a contestant could trade the items for cash or better yet, a chance to pick from one of the 3 famous (closed) doors.

The show was truly a game of chance. A common scenario might be that an audience member would be asked to sell the contents of (her) purse in exchange for an amount of money. OR, you could possibly take your chances on the unseen prize behind Door 1, Door 2 or Door 3. How exciting and nerve wracking at the same time? Does the prudent person take the sure thing, being the cash; or take a chance at what is behind one of those doors? Prizes behind the doors could be something more valuable or it could be something worse. To make the decision more interesting, at least one of the doors would open to show the prize behind it. The contestant would then have to decide again whether to keep the money or go for one of the 2 remaining doors. Many contestants left the show being the proud owner of a couple of llamas, an elephant or even a year’s worth of beans, but it was worth it for a chance to win something great! If a person did not fare well and made a bad deal, they were said to have been ZONKED! At the end of the show, the two biggest deal winners were given one last shot at the BIG DEAL of the day. They could trade their winnings for whatever was behind one of three doors. That could be something like a new car, more cash or some other treasure.  

“Let’s Make a Deal” became such a pop-culture phenomenon that there was a brain-twister in probability, called “The Monty Hall Problem.” This was a thought provoking experiment involving three chance doors, two goats and a coveted prize and leads to a counter-intuitive solution. “The Monty Hall Problem” goes as follows:

Suppose you're on a game show, and you're given the choice of three doors: Behind one door is a car; behind the others, goats. You pick a door, say No. 1, and the host, who knows what's behind the doors, opens another door, say No. 3, which has a goat. He then says to you, "Do you want to pick door No. 2?" Is it to your advantage to switch your choice?

Although there is a logical solution to “The Monty Hall Problem,” viewers didn’t care! They just enjoyed the thrill of the game even when they got zonked!

Monty Hall was a likable host and it was obvious that he had fun with his job. He hosted around 5,000 episodes before handing his position off to Wayne Brady. He was a true people-person and had a knack for engaging contestants while keeping the show moving. At times, he had contestants competing against each other creating even more mayhem to the short time he had each week. Hall was instrumental in opening the floodgates for the “anything goes” game show!

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Rebeka Knott

Writer

Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.