'Let's Make a Deal' host, philanthropist Monty Hall dies

Published: Saturday, September 30, 2017 @ 7:12 PM
Updated: Saturday, September 30, 2017 @ 7:11 PM

Monty Hall, the genial TV game show host whose long-running "Let's Make a Deal" traded on love of money and merchandise and the mystery of which door had the car behind it, has died. He was 96.

Hall, who had been in poor health, died Saturday morning of heart failure at his home in Beverly Hills, said his daughter, Sharon Hall of Los Angeles.

"Let's Make a Deal," which Hall co-created, debuted as a daytime show on NBC in 1963 and became a TV staple. Through the next four decades, it also aired in prime time, in syndication and, in two brief outings, with hosts other than Hall at the helm.

An episode of "The Odd Couple" featured Felix Unger (Tony Randall) and Oscar Madison (Jack Klugman) as bickering guests on Hall's program.

Contestants were chosen from the studio audience — outlandishly dressed as animals, clowns or cartoon characters to attract the host's attention — and would start the game by trading an item of their own for a prize. After that, it was matter of swapping the prize in hand for others hidden behind doors, curtains or in boxes, presided over by the leggy, smiling Carol Merrill.

The query "Do you want Door No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3?" became a popular catch phrase, and the chance of winning a new car a matter of primal urgency. Prizes could be a car or a mink coat or a worthless item dubbed a "zonk."

The energetic, quick-thinking Hall, a sight himself with his sideburns and colorful sports coats, was deemed the perfect host in Alex McNeil's reference book, "Total Television."

"Monty kept the show moving while he treated the outrageously garbed and occasionally greedy contestants courteously; it is hard to imagine anyone else but Hall working the trading area as smoothly," McNeil wrote.

For Hall, the interaction was easy.

"I'm a people person," he said on the PBS documentary series "Pioneers of Television." ''And so I don't care if they jump on me, and I don't care if they yell and they fainted — those are my people."

The game show gave rise to an academic exercise in which students are asked to weigh this question: In guessing which of three doors might conceal a prize car, and after one is eliminated as a possibility, should you switch your choice to the one you didn't pick?

The puzzle sparked heated exchanges in Marilyn vos Savant's Parade magazine column. (The answer to the Monty Hall Problem, Hall and others said, was yes, take the switch — but only if the contest is set up so the host cannot skew the results by offering some guests the chance to switch doors and not giving others the same option.)

After five years on NBC, "Let's Make a Deal" moved to ABC in 1968 and aired on the network through 1976, including prime-time stints. It went into syndication in the 1970s and 1980s, returning to NBC in 1990-91 and again in 2003. In 2009 it returned on CBS with host Wayne Brady and is still on the air.

His name and show remain part of the language. Typical is the quotation in a 2006 Daytona Beach (Florida) News-Journal profile of a no-nonsense bail bondswoman who says, "I'm not Monty Hall and this isn't 'Let's Make a Deal.' "

Hall also guest-starred in sitcoms and appeared in TV commercials. And with the wealth that the game show brought, he made philanthropy and fundraising his avocation. He spent 200 days a year at it, he said, estimating in the late 1990s that he had coaxed $700 million from donors.

His daughter Sharon estimated that Hall managed to raise nearly $1 billion for charity over his lifetime.

Another daughter, Joanna Gleason, is a longtime Broadway and television actress. She won a Tony in 1988 for best actress in a musical for "Into the Woods" and was nominated for Tonys two other times.

Born Monty Halparin in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in Canada, Hall grew up during the Depression. In 1942, Hall was doing manual labor at the time when a wealthy stranger offered to pay for his college education on condition that he repaid the money, got top grades, kept his benefactor's name anonymous and agreed to help someone else.

Hall only revealed the name of the late Max Freed about 30 years later.

Hall earned a degree from the University of Manitoba with the goal of becoming a physician. He was denied entry to medical school, Hall later said, because he was Jewish and faced quotas limiting the admission of minority students.

"Every poor kid wants to get into some kind of profession, and in my case I wanted to get into medicine to become a doctor. ... My dreams of medicine evaporated," Hall said in a 2002 interview with The Canadian Press.

Instead, he turned to entertainment. He first tested his skills on radio and, after moving to New York in 1955 and later to Los Angeles, began working on a variety of television shows. Among the programs he hosted were "Cowboy Theater" in 1957, "Keep Talking," 1958, and "Video Village" in 1960.

He joined with writer-producer Stefan Hatos to create "Let's Make a Deal."

The show's roots could be found in "The Auctioneer," a game show Hall hosted in Toronto in the 1950s. "The Auctioneer" was a "pretty pedestrian" program until the concluding 10 minutes, when he would barter with audience members, Hall told the Daily Herald of suburban Chicago in 2000.

"It was much more exciting than the first 20 minutes of the show," he recalled.

Besides Hall, the hosts of "Let's Make a Deal" were Bob Hilton (1990) and Billy Bush (2003). But it was Hall who was lastingly identified as "TV's big dealer," as the show put it, something he found at least mildly disconcerting.

When a People magazine interviewer suggested in 1996 that "Let's Make a Deal" would be his epitaph, Hall replied, with a wince: "You put that on my tombstone, and I'll kill you."

However, Sharon Hall said Hall never refused an autograph and used his fame to help others.

His family's financial circumstances and a childhood accident stirred that charitable desire, Hall said.

At age 7, he was severely burned by a pot of boiling water and endured a lengthy recovery.

"When you've been that sick, spent a year out of school, you identify with people who have these ailments and sicknesses," he told the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post in a 2003 interview. "And when you grow up poor, you identify with people in need."

Hall was repeatedly honored for his charity efforts, with awards including the Order of Canada, Order of Manitoba and Variety Clubs International's Humanitarian Award. Wards were named in his honor at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia and other medical centers.

Hall and his wife, Marilyn Plottel, married in 1947. She died earlier this year.

In addition to his daughters, Hall is survived by his son, Richard; a brother, Robert Hall of Toronto, Canada, and five grandchildren.

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Associated Press writer Robert Jablon contributed to this report.

Can you find the camouflaged soldier hidden in this viral photo?

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 2:53 AM

Can you find the camouflaged soldier hidden in this viral photo? (Photo credit: British Army / Twitter)
British Army / Twitter
Can you find the camouflaged soldier hidden in this viral photo? (Photo credit: British Army / Twitter)(British Army / Twitter)

The British Army wants you to test its woodland camouflage. Do you see a soldier in this image?

>> See the tweet here

The British Army asked Twitter users to scan the photo — which reportedly was shot in Wales on the Section Commander’s Battle Course — to find the soldier in the scene.

>> Read more trending news 

A hint, in case you’re having any difficulty: The soldier is not standing up.

To make things a bit difficult, the soldier is wearing a woodland camouflage pattern designed to blend in with the misty forest terrain.

>> This coffee riddle has baffled the internet – can you solve it?

Is the British uniform good enough for you? If you haven’t found the answer yet, it’s here — the soldier lying prone, enveloped in mist, with just the perfectly round helmet giving any indication that it’s not all forest floor.

>> Click here or scroll down to see the answer
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Teen trying to kill bed bug starts fire, causes $300,000 in damage, firefighters say

Published: Thursday, November 30, 2017 @ 12:27 PM

Teen Starts Fire, Causes $300,000 In Damage Trying To Kill Bed Bug

A Cincinnati teen trying to kill a bed bug is accused of starting a fire in his apartment complex that caused $300,000 in damage and displaced eight residents. 

WCPO in Cincinnati reported that the 13-year-old boy tried to kill the pest by lighting it on fire. His mattress burst into flames, and the fire spread to the building’s attic.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze, but one apartment was destroyed. Two other units had fire damage, and two others were damaged by smoke and water.

Three adults and five children were displaced by the incident, the news station reported. Firefighters said the American Red Cross was assisting the residents. 

>> Read more trending news

Bed bugs are flat, reddish-brown insects that feed on the blood of humans or animals. According to pest control company Orkin, they are usually found in cracks and crevices, including mattress seams, sheets and furniture. They also hide behind baseboards and in electrical plate outlets. 

They are often found in hotels because they can travel easily in luggage, purses and briefcases, the company’s website said

Signs of an infestation include not only the bugs, which are about the size of an apple seed, but also the empty skins that young bed bugs shed as they grow. They also leave behind their droppings. 

Homeowners may also discover bites on their bodies when they wake up. Bed bugs prefer to be active at night, when their hosts are asleep, Orkin said

Another home burns down in botched attempt to kill bedbugs with rubbing alcohol

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 1:57 AM

What You Need to Know: Bed Bugs

Three people were hospitalized and 10 are homeless after a Cincinnati woman attempted to douse a bedbug infestation in her home with rubbing alcohol and started a house fire instead, authorities said.

>> Teen trying to kill bedbug starts fire, causes $300,000 in damage, firefighters say

The rubbing alcohol — which is extremely flammable — ignited because of a nearby open flame, according to authorities cited by the New York Post. The ensuing fire caused $250,000 in damage to the five-unit multi-family Ohio home.

Three people had to be hospitalized for smoke inhalation, according to CBS News. Their injuries are not considered life-threatening.

For now, the American Red Cross is assisting and providing housing for those displaced by the inferno, WXIX reported.

>> Read more trending news

This is the second time that a rubbing-alcohol-fueled fire has burned down a Cincinnati house in as many months. Just after Thanksgiving, a 19-year-old lit a match after dousing a bedbug in rubbing alcohol, causing a fire that did $300,000 in damage to six apartments and left eight people homeless.

Cincinnati District 3 Fire Chief Randy Freel told WXIX that people should stay away from any home remedies for bedbugs, especially the more flammable kinds.

“Get a professional,” he said.

Read more here.

Teen Starts Fire, Causes $300,000 In Damage Trying To Kill Bed Bug

Pregnant woman fatally shot by boyfriend trying to end relationship, police say

Published: Sunday, December 10, 2017 @ 11:39 PM

A man fatally shot his pregnant girlfriend in an attempt to end the relationship, police say. (Photo: Fox13Memphis.com)
A man fatally shot his pregnant girlfriend in an attempt to end the relationship, police say. (Photo: Fox13Memphis.com)

A man fatally shot his pregnant girlfriend Saturday in an attempt to end the relationship, police said.

>> Read more trending news

Keosha Miller, 22, was shot around around 6:59 p.m. in the Faronia Square Townhomes, Memphis police said. 

Brandon Freeman was seen by witnesses, fleeing the residence at a high rate of speed, police said. The witnesses called Freeman to check and see if he was OK. He told them "some random guys tried to shoot he and his girlfriend."

Freeman later returned to the scene and moved evidence there, police said. 

Freeman later admitted to police that he shot and killed Miller because he was unsure if she was pregnant with his baby and it was the easiest way he could think of to get out of the relationship.

“There are a number of things you could’ve done to get out of that relationship. You got abortion and a number of things other than taking a baby’s life,” a neighbor said. 

Memphis police told FOX13 that Miller was three months pregnant when she was shot and killed by Freeman. The fetus did not survive the shooting.

Freeman was arrested and charged with first-degree murder; he is scheduled to appear in court on Monday morning.