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Let's Make a Deal

Producer: Hatos-Hall
Host: Monty Hall
Announcer: Wendell Niles
Taping Info: May 25, 1963 at NBC Burbank Studio #1
Made it to Air: It joined the NBC lineup on December 30, 1963, replacing People Will Talk. It jumped to ABC on December 30, 1968 and stayed there until July 9, 1976 when it was replaced by Hot Seat. It also had prime-time runs in 1967, 1969-1971 and 2003, syndicated runs from 1971-77, 1980-1981, 1984-1986 and a daytime network run in 1990.
Availability: It's on the trading circuit, it's at UCLA, it's also aired once on GSN.

Monty Hall was getting his feet wet in the game show biz, cooling his heels after Video Village was canceled working behind the scenes as the producer of Your First Impression. Utilizing his master skills as an ad-libber, Hall along with partner Stefan Hatos developed a game that would involve Hall posing simple deals to players on the "trading floor" by having them exchange simple household items for the possibility of cash or decent merchandise.

The show is pretty much how it went to air. There's a trading floor of some 30-odd contestants, there's an audience in back who just to get to watch, and there's Monty Hall walking around with a microphone. However, if Monty approaches you for a possible deal, you must have something to trade or be able to answer a simple trivia question. The first prize ended up being a semi-zonk, a ratty raccoon fur coat. We would find out later in the show that the coat had in one of its pockets 5 shares of US Steel stock worth $53 a share in 1963 (compare to today here).

However, there were some differences. First, there were no signs and no wacky costumes, all of the members of the trading floor and audience were in coat, ties and dresses. The signs came a month into the series and the costumes a few months later. There were more deals in this pilot than on your typical episode, mostly because the deals were not as elaborate. Also, the Big Deal at the end was different in both how the contestants were picked (the biggest cash winner vs. the biggest merchandise winner as opposed to the top two winners). On the personnel front, there was no Jay Stewart (Wendell Niles did the chores) and no Carol Merrill (an anonymous model). Finally, the theme music would be the Monty Hall pilot standard "That's Entertainment", although there was the live combo in the studio.

One of the problems Monty Hall had in pitching this show to first ABC and then NBC was that network executives were skittish that the show would run out of steam quickly. And if I was watching this pilot, I would wonder the same thing. However, more than 3,000 episodes can't be wrong.

Welcome to the color-washed Marketplace of America!

Monty applies his craft

Do you know how many miles I had to drive to run over the animals for this coat?

The box! The box!

The first of 39,391,249 TVs given away by Deal

The zonk in the Big Deal, bales of cotton. Nobody picked this one.

This pilot has been viewed 11008 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Dec 12, 2009 14:46 ET
Feedback? Contact me at usgs-pilot at the usgameshows dot net domain