He helped usher in the golden age of the game show with the
creation of Let’s Make a Deal in 1963. Fifty years later, with the show
still going strong, Monty Hall [BSc/56, LLD/87] was once in the spotlight on
Sunday, June 16: this time, to receive a daytime Emmy award – his first! – for
The University of Manitoba congratulates Hall for dedicating his
life to entertaining us and – through his tireless work on behalf of charities –
helping make better lives for others around him.
Here’s Hall in a recent television interview, demonstrating that
at 91 years young, he hasn’t lost a beat as host of Let’s Make a
For more on Hall, read his profile from the April 2008 issue of
The Family Guy
Published in the April 2008 issue of On Manitoba
He is a familiar face to millions of people around the world and one
of Winnipeg’s most famous exports but ask Monty Hall about
career and the legendary talk show host shifts the conversation to what he
considers his greatest accomplishment:
“I think the proudest things in my life are my marriage and my
children, who are so successful,” the 86-year-old says before
fellow University of Manitoba alumni at a gathering in Los Angeles, CA, last
Best known for producing and hosting the television game show
Let’s Make a Deal for nearly 30 years, Hall and his wife Marilyn – also an
Emmy-award winning television producer – say they’ve never let themselves get
caught up in the trappings of Tinseltown.
“Normalcy was part of our life,” says Hall, a member of both the
Order of Canada and the Order of Manitoba. “And we could have had the same
normal life whether we’d live in Winnipeg, Toronto or Topeka, Kansas, because
that’s the kind of family that we were.”
For the couple, who have been married six decades, keeping life
simple meant leaving work at work. Hall says “we never brought out business
home” yet their children still caught the entertainment bug.
“They got it
from us one way or another.”
Their daughter Joanna Gleason is a Tony-award winning actress;
their son Richard Hall, another Emmy winner, produces reality shows like The
Amazing Race and Celebrity Fit Club; and their youngest daughter
Sharon Hall is a senior executive with Sony television. And still Marilyn
insists they’re not a “Hollywood family.”
“I would say we’re the least Hollywood family you’ll meet” she
Growing up in Winnipeg’s north end with little money, Hall knew
nothing of glitz and glamour. Desperate to attend university and study medicine,
he spent two years working in his father’s meat shop to save the $150 required
for tuition at the University of Manitoba. After his first year at the U of M,
Hall was broke and forced to drop out. Enter Max Freed, who owned a clothing
store next to the shop where Hall was now working. Freed approached Hall’s dad,
Maurice, to find out why his son was working and not going to school. According
to Hall, when Freed learned it was a money issue he said, “Well, does he wanna
go to school? Tell him to come and see me.”
Hall received an offer that would change his life: Freed would
finance his education provided he keep good grades, pay back every penny, do the
same favour for someone else down the road and never tell a soul where he got
the money from.
“Well, I followed three of the four rules,” Hall says, “Years
later I wrote my autobiography and I told this story and I revealed his
Hall returned to school but he never made it into medicine.
While earning his bachelor of science degree, he made an important discovery –
his true passion was entertainment. The clues were obvious. While in university,
Hall produced and starred in theatrical productions, worked on weekends with a
traveling army show that criss-crossed the province entertaining troops and
dabbled in broadcasting with local radio station CKRC.
“By this time I had decided that I worked so hard all my life,
waited for these moments, that I’m going to give up the idea of going into
medicine and I’m going to go into radio broadcasting because this was exciting
stuff,” says Hall.
After a few months working full time at CKRC, Hall left Winnipeg
for Toronto. There, he met Marilyn, who worked for the Canadian Broadcasting
“She was an ingénue on the CBC Radio when I met her,” says
“She was 18 years old...the Lindsay Lohan of her
“Not quite,” says Marilyn.
Hall struggled to find steady jobs in Toronto, recalling how the
CBC “sorta shut down the store.” By this point he and Marilyn had two babies to
feed. They decided he should set out for New York to find work. “I’m walking the
streets trying to get appointments, trying to see people, without success, week
after week after week,” Hall says. “And she’s back home with two kids. One of
them who became ill. She’s got these problems and no husband around to help her
Hall described this period of time as the greatest challenge in
their lives but he just kept pushing forward. “In my day my only mantra was: ‘No
going back,’” he says. “You just pull up your socks and you keep
Of his talent and his drive, he was sure. What Hall needed was a
break. “Success will come when your courage and your persistence and your talent
intersect with that day. That lucky day,” he says.
Hall landed a job emceeing a show called Video Village.
Shortly after he was hired, the show transferred from New York to L.A. and Hall
followed. He began creating his own TV productions, like the game show Your
First Impressions, which he sold to the National Broadcasting Corporation
(NBC) in 1962. He hired Stefan Hatos to produce the show and it was during one
of their regular idea-generating sessions that the pair developed the concept
for Let’s Make a Deal. Once again, Hall found himself battling
rejection – the networks did not initially like the show idea.
Talent and persistence finally intersected with a lucky day,
Dec. 30, 1963, “And the rest is history.”
Fame and success didn’t change Hall and his family but it did
allow him to indulge his second greatest passion – charity work. Hall is
credited with helping raise upwards of $800 to $850 million for various causes.
Hall says he’s not done yet.
“Recently I went to see my doctor for my annual check-up and I
said ‘Doctor, I’d like to keep going till I hit the billion dollar mark. But
that’s been my life. My family comes first, my charities come second and
television comes third.”
by Jeremy Brooks [BA/98]