Game shows have always held a special place on our television screens over the years, with hundreds of different variations and styles over the years. Whilst some feature in-depth and specialist knowledge on subjects, such as ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’ and ‘The Chase’, others have more physical aspects as their goal, like ‘Wipeout’, and ‘American Ninja Warrior’, and others rely on pure luck, such as ‘Deal or No Deal’. No matter the premise behind the game show, they are full of entertainment and offer hours of viewing fun across the nation.
One show relying on both knowledge and luck is ‘Let’s Make a Deal’. Teaming these two aspects together, this game show which originated in 1963 has continued to entertain the nation over the years. From wacky costume ideas to hilarious contestants, with some fairly fantastic prizes, the show has teamed a perfect hosting cast with the ideal amount of humor and craziness. While luck cannot be studied, having the exuberance needed to take part in any game show is something that must be harnessed and utilized, with ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ as no exception to the rule.
Host Wayne Brady has made controlling the show and keeping up with the chaos look easy over the last eight years since taking over in 2009, but is nowhere near as recognizable as the original host, Monty Hall. As with any game show though, there is a lot of planning and preparation that goes into every single one of the episodes, with only the best of the best able to make it onto television screens. So just what is it that we don’t get to see when we’re at home? Are there any hidden rituals the contestants go through on the show? Or any major secrets that are kept hidden from our screens? Perhaps there are some things we didn’t know about this wonderfully kooky show after all.
The sales pitch
Monty Hall originally gave NBC a sales pitch for the show, which has become creepily accurate over the years. It features him sitting in a suit, in an empty studio. As the camera zooms up to Monty, he describes the show he’s trying to sell to the network giants. However, he didn’t just sell the show to NBC and future fans, he sold himself. Anyone who has watched the sales pitch is desperate to find out what lies behind those three doors, time and time again.
A difficult reception
When the game show first started out, many people were critical of its chances at succeeding. Many of the previous shows that had tried to compete with NBC’s biggest hit, Password, had all failed and fallen to the wayside. TV show critics called it “mindless” and “demeaning” but were soon eating their words. By 1974, ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ had spent nearly 10 years at the top of the daytime ratings.
When the Let’s Make a Deal first started, the contestants would turn up wearing just normal business attire. However, during one of the earliest airings of the show, someone turned up in a chicken outfit. Monty Hall, the original host, couldn’t believe his eyes. He decided to pick the lady in the chicken outfit, and then someone else who turned up in a costume a few days later. This escalated into the outlandish costume competition that happens on ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ today.
Don’t be the man that flies!
Nowadays, deciding your costume for the show means you want to make sure you get attention for the right reasons. Avoiding a costume that’s trademarked will give you a better chance, but if you just have to wear the suit and cape, then the show has got ways around it. Someone arrived dressed as Batman, but the show placed a sticker with ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ over it to cover up the logo. The hosts have to be quick with names too, donning that particular contestant as the man that flies! Smart move.
Better than all the rest
There have been some iconic contestant costumes over the years, which just shows the creativity of some of the people desperate to get onto the show. Some of our favorites include a couple who came as a cracker and a marshmallow (so they’d create a s’more), the three Johnny Depps, the self-made selfie, popcorn and a movie, and the stunning peacock – although we’re not sure how she sat down with all those feathers!
A huge waiting list
If you’ve ever dreamed of going on the show, then you may want to know it used to hold the record for the longest ever waiting list for tickets. Back in the ‘70s there were only 350 seats available for each recording, but thousands of people requesting tickets. This meant that the waiting list to get on ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ was an incredible 2-3 years after you’d requested a ticket!
To the penny
This was in the only game show in the whole of the U.S. at the time that would give all prize values out to the penny. If something retailed for $119.98 then that’s exactly what it would be given us. Other game shows would round their prize values up to the nearest dollar amount. It’s kind of become a bit of a ‘unique selling point’ for the show and its contestants.
A pretty big deal
Monty Hall was the host of ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ from 1963 to 1986 and then again briefly in 1991, making him the definite star of the show. Perhaps it’s because of his unwavering dedication that he became one of the only game show hosts to have his name on both Canada’s and Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. He was also one of the first ever inductees into the American TV Game Show Hall of Fame in 2007. You could say he was kind of a big deal!
Goodbye to a legend
Sadly, on September 30, 2017, Monty Hall passed away at his home in Beverly Hills. His son said that Monty suffered a heart failure and passed away on the Saturday morning, aged 96. Tributes came pouring in for the co-creator and host of Let’s Make a Deal, with many people talking about how Monty had been a staple on their TVs at home for what felt like decades. Monty is survived by his son, Richard, his two daughters, and his five grandchildren.
There have been a total of 12 glamorous female assistants on ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ over the last 54 years, some more famous than others. The original (and some say the best) was Carol Merrill who was Monty Hall’s assistant from 1963 until 1977! Other famous faces include the Klimaszewski twins from 1990-1991, Geri Halliwell (AKA Ginger Spice) from 1991-1992, Danielle Demski from 2013-2014 and the current assistant, model and dancer Tiffany Adams Coyne.
A famous aunt
Carol Merrill, the original glamorous assistant on ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ got her niece interested in show business from a young age. That same niece went on to star in the Spy Kids trilogy, Watchmen, Sucker Punch, and Wayward Pines. Yep, Carol Merrill is the aunt of the famous actress Carla Gugino. Gugino would watch her aunt on ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ reruns and imagine being on the TV herself. Turns out she succeeded!
The voice of Let’s Make a Deal
Along with having glamorous assistants on the show, there’s also the announcer who (let’s be honest) the show wouldn’t be the same without. Wendell Niles was the first ever announcer of ‘Let’s Make a Deal’,’ who was known as one of the most recognizable voices in the Golden Age of Radio. He was replaced by the longest standing narrator, Jay Stewart, who is renowned for his work on game shows. You might recognize his voice on shows such as ‘Sale of the Century’ and ‘Bullseye.’
The grand mathematical problem
Without getting too technical, ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ has seen the birth of the mathematical conundrum, the ‘Monty Hall problem’. The problem revolves around the idea surrounding whether there would be an advantage to the contestant to switch doors, and the chances that they would win if they did. It all gets a bit technical, and there are lots of statistics involved, but mathematicians have found themselves puzzling over the answer over the years! I think we’ll leave it to them to figure out…
Cat Gray’s slanted keyboard
Keyboard player for the show Cat Gray has his keyboard at a bit of a different angle to most other people – slanted to face the audience! There is a reason for the mad angle though. No, he’s not quadruple jointed, and he doesn’t have extraordinarily long arms. The real reason is that when Gray would play with people such as Stevie Nicks and Stevie Wonder, and he was doing his solos, he wouldn’t get as much attention as the guitar players or drummers. So, Gray flipped his keyboard and voila!
Car Pong evolution
When ‘Car Pong’ made its initial debut onto our screens, the game had a variation to the modern rules. Originally if any contestants got their ball into any one of the cups surrounding the car, they wouldn’t get any money or anything in the way of prizes. However, after a few weeks of the game airing on the show, the producers decided to add values to the cups which saw a contestant win anything from $100 up to $1000. At least now players won’t be walking away empty handed.
The moving of the sign
The executive producer of the show Mike Richards had a bit of a shock one day when he went into his office. Inside he found what he had always described as the hideously ugly sign for the show on his wall. The set had been redesigned, and his co-workers thought it would be hilarious to put it there as a reminder for him! Poor Mike, hopefully, the blue sign at least went with the office color scheme!
Let’s Make a Deal… not to sue
In 2010, 75-year old Mary Hutchinson filed a lawsuit against the station CBS after a chair was not allegedly bolted into the floor correctly. Hutchinson put her arm out for support as she was making her way through the studio, but the chair gave way! The incident caused her to suffer neck and back injuries after the fall, but nothing was broken. She wanted to make a deal to the tune of $25,000 for the damages created by the dangerous environment.
Make it rain
A particular contestant was in for a shock during his appearance on the show. Jorge Lopez had his life changed after winning the largest cash prize in the whole history of the show! Lopez was the proud winner of $73,515! The show knows how to do things in style though as they let the cash rain down from the ceiling onto Lopez as he fell to his knees soaking up every penny that was floating down around him.
Going home in style
During season six of the show, they gave away their biggest car prize of all time. The brand-spanking-new Lexus IS-250 had a value of $37,010, and one lucky lady was the one that got to drive it home. The show has also been seen to give away Ford Fiestas, Toyota Corollas, and Yaris’ over the years. These lucky winners have all been driving around in style since being on the show after their long wait for the delivery, but it looks as though it was worth it!
In 1990, NBC tried to revive Let’s Make a Deal as a daytime series. It was the first not to have any Monty Hall involvement (either produced or hosted by). NBC then tried to revive the show again, this time as a primetime edition, back in 2003. The show received such poor ratings it was canceled after just three of the five episodes they had intended to air. They needed to really pull something about of the bag if they were to revive it again.
It’s thought that many of the episodes aired on NBC Daytime and Nighttime may have been wiped! Videotape used to be extremely expensive and so NBC would record over old videotapes in order to save money. Although the status is technically ‘unknown’ it is very likely they have been wiped. However, the 1963 pilot with Wendell Niles still exists, and the 1967 finale can be found at the Library of Congress. Not all is lost then!
A successful revival
After a six year break, after Billy Bush as host, producers were desperate to revive the once super-popular ‘Let’s Make a Deal,’ and needed a new host. Wayne Brady was keen to step in and take on the role that had been the legend Monty Hall’s for so long. However, Hall wasn’t going to just fade into the background, as he became a consultant for the new version of the show when it was revived back in 2009.
Filling the slot
The time slot for the show became available after long-running soap opera ‘Guiding Light’ was canceled in 2009. ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ wasn’t the only show up for the slot though as CBS also auditioned ‘$1,000,000 Pyramid’, a show with teams guessing items based on clues given to them, and ‘The Dating Game’, a dating show where secret potential dates would answer questions before one being chosen. CBS, however, decided to run the now hour-long game show to fill the soap opera’s boots.
It made sense for producers to give Wayne Brady a shot, as the star had already won so many awards for his work on TV and on the stage. His career started as an improv actor on the British version of ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ for which he won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program. His daytime talk show, The Wayne Brady Show, also won four Daytime Emmy Awards, and he’s been nominated as Outstanding Game Show Host a whopping six times!
Brady’s difficult health
As a child, Wayne Brady had a seriously bad stuttering problem which he says came about from anxiety and being bullied while he was growing up. Luckily, he managed to push through the speech impediment to become one of the most prolific TV hosts of all time! Brady has also admitted that he suffered from a mental breakdown on his 42nd birthday and that he has clinical depression. He also said that his second wife, Mandie Taketa, helped him recover.
All around the world
The show has been aired under various names and with plenty of styles in 22 countries around the world! Including names like ‘Super Deal’ and ‘Trick or Treat’, the shows popularity has always been firmly set in the U.S. with most other countries canceling their version of the show. Boasting over 2.4 million viewers in the U.S. alone, the show seems set to continue here though as the numbers continue to grow and grow.
Tons of merchandise
Let’s Make a Deal has become such a popular TV show, that it only made sense for companies to capitalize on the craze. You can get a whole ton of merchandise from the show, including a board game, an interactive DVD game, and even instant lottery tickets based on the program. There are also three slot games that are based on Let’s Make a Deal, with two of them featuring Monty Hall. You could say that it’s a popular show then…
End of the night food fight
The end of the seasons always marked a tradition for the show where the cast and crew would all participate in an on-air food fight to celebrate their success of the season. Hopefully, they moved the prizes to the back before the flinging begun! Season four they didn’t need to worry about any clear up though as they forwent the fight to announce assistant Tiffany Coyne’s pregnancy. Don’t want to give the baby any ideas!
Let’s Make the Right Price Deal
Starting on May 9, 2016, the show, as well as others, were featured on a ‘Mash-Up Week’. ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ was mashed with ‘The Price Is Right’ where they would each incorporate games from the other show, but edit them to fit their style. As well as the games making a switch, viewers were treated to some different hosts as everyone swapped round and hosted the two shows together. Imagine the carnage! It was a roaring success though and looked plenty of fun to be involved with.
Did you know that the most famous host of ‘Let’s Make a Deal’, Monty Hall, actually married his cousin? In 1946, Monty was introduced to Marilyn Doreen Plottel by a mutual cousin, Norman Shnier. The two got married the year after and have three children together. One of them being the Tony-award winning actress Joanna Gleason. Their other children are Sharon Hall Kessler (head of TV at Alcon Entertainment) and Richard Hall, who is a TV producer.
How to get into the show
Have you ever wondered how you could be a contestant on Let’s Make a Deal? Well, apparently many former winners have shared a few tips on the internet for participants that would like to compete on the show. According to them, you should wear a costume that you made at home as it will seem far more original on TV than the regular costumes that the show provides. Also, you should be ready to dance and get into groove of the show.