TV's Monty Hall will no longer have to explain to visitors to his Beverly Hills home that the Emmy Award in his living room is his wife's and not his.
After doing more than 4,000 episodes over the last half-century of his iconic daytime game show, Hall is finally getting an Emmy Award of his own. The ex-Winnipegger is receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 40th Daytime Entertainment Emmy Awards airing Sunday on Turner Broadcasting's HLN.
"For 27 years I've had to say it's not mine," Hall said Tuesday in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. "It's very nice they recognize what I've done in my television career but it's not the one hole in my life I've been trying to fill."
His wife of 65 years, Marilyn Hall, beat him to the podium, winning an Emmy as a producer of the 1985 CBS TV movie Do You Remember Love?
"I'm going to place the Emmy on a shelf next to my wife's Emmy and maybe one day we'll have little Emmys," Hall said, laughing.
Hall is a few months shy of his 92nd birthday -- not that he shows it. He announced with great pride that he still does the New York Times crossword puzzle -- "in ink" -- every day. And he still has his hand in the current incarnation of Let's Make a Deal, which airs weekdays on CBS with Wayne Brady as host.
He's an owner of the series and a consultant, plus he's made several appearances with Brady on the series, including the recent 50th anniversary show. In fact, Hall says he's hosted Let's Make a Deal every decade since it began on NBC in late 1963.
The concept for Let's Make a Deal, which was created and produced by Hall and Stefan Hatos, was inspired by The Lady, or the Tiger, Frank R. Stockton's short story about a person who has to make a choice between two curtain-draped tents -- behind one is a tiger, the other a lady. Hall and Hatos got rid of the tiger, expanded the choices to three curtains and introduced the word "zonk." Over the last 50 years, thousands of contestants have gotten zonked after choosing the wrong curtain or box. Instead of winning money, furniture, cars or a trip, they ended up with such gag gifts as barnyard animals and broken-down cars.
Hall got his first taste of performing after high school in Winnipeg during the Second World War. "I got a job at a radio station while I was going to college," he said. "I worked from 6 p.m to midnight. I did everything. I had a singing show, a cowboy show. On Saturdays, I would get up and emcee at army shows."
Eventually, he made his way to Toronto, where he worked in radio and TV. In 1955, he tried his luck in New York. After a few lean months, Hall got a meeting with an executive at NBC and was offered to take over the daytime series The Sky's the Limit.
Hall recalled that in the early planning for Let's Make a Deal, he and his staff would try out a simple version for clubs and groups to see what would work. "We would call and say when you have a meeting, we'll be your entertainment. We did it for lawyers' groups and we did it for the Latter-day Saints quilting bee at 8 in the morning. Everywhere we showed it, they loved it."
But there was no plan for contestants to dress up in wacky outfits to get Hall's attention. "They came to the show in the first week in suits and dresses," he said. "The second week, a woman, noting I am picking people at random, came with a sign that says "Roses are red, violets are blue. I came here to deal with you." I read the sign and I picked her. The next week everybody had a sign. Then the next week, came the Phyllis Diller look-alikes and it grew and grew."
Hall said for the first time he didn't get back to Winnipeg last year for his annual visit, but still wants to go home to see the shrinking number of family members.
"I still love going back to Winnipeg," he said. "It still holds a nostalgic place for me."
-- Los Angeles Times,
with files from staff