'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.

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.

___

Associated Press writer Robert Jablon contributed to this report.

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Woman says she found worm in fish bought at Costco

Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 11:57 AM

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12:  A Costco sign is displayed on March 12, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: A Costco sign is displayed on March 12, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

A Maryland woman says there was a live surprise in a package of fish she purchased at Costco last week.

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Emily Rhoades Randolph said she purchased a package of fresh cod on Feb. 9 at Costco. On Monday, she recorded video of what appears to be a worm wriggling around a corner of the sealed package and posted it on her Facebook page on Wednesday. The sell-by date on the package is the same day she recorded the video, according to Randolph.

Randolph said in the Facebook post that when she returned the contaminated fish to Costco, the clerk at the seafood counter commented that another customer had returned salmon with worms in it. Randolph said she did not receive an apology for the incident.

Randolph shared the incident to warn others to check their food.

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Melania Trump breaks with tradition again after new affair allegations

Published: Friday, February 16, 2018 @ 8:27 PM

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 10:  (AFP OUT) First lady Melania Trump looks as US President Donald Trump is reflected in her glasses. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 10: (AFP OUT) First lady Melania Trump looks as US President Donald Trump is reflected in her glasses. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)(Pool/Getty Images)

Once again, first lady Melania Trump gave off the impression that all is not well in her marriage to President Donald Trump when she broke presidential protocol on Friday following a report alleging the president had an affair with former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal.

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As the Trumps headed to Florida to meet with the victims of this week’s mass shooting at a high school, they began the journey separately. While it’s tradition for the couple to cross the White House lawn to Marine One together, Mrs. Trump decided to forgo the usual walk and instead drove separately to Andrews Air Force Base. She arrived in a separate vehicle ahead of the president and ascended the stairs to Air Force One without him.

“With her schedule, it was easier to meet him on the plane,” Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s communications director, explained the situation, adding that she does intend to join her husband in visiting the victims.

The suspicious choice comes just hours after The New Yorker published a report based on an account from McDougal, who provided details about her alleged affair with President Trump between June 2006 to April 2007. At the time, the Trumps had been married for two years, and their son, Barron, had been born a few months earlier.

The White House responded to the allegations in a statement saying, “This is an old story that is just more fake news. The President says he never had a relationship with McDougal.”

This isn’t the first time the first lady has broken with tradition in the wake of infidelity accusations. Last month, she arrived at the U.S. Capitol separately from the president to attend his first State of the Union address. It was her first public event following a bombshell report alleging the president paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her silence after the pair had an affair in 2006.

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Dog food shipments pulled after euthanasia drug found in some brands

Published: Friday, February 16, 2018 @ 8:54 AM

Study Found Euthanasia Drug in Dog Food

J.M. Smucker Co. is pulling back some of its shipments after a television news investigation found that some of the company’s dog food tested positive for a drug used for euthanasia.

The company is having shipments of wet canned Gravy Train, Kibble ‘N Bits, Skippy and Ol’ Roy foods returned to the the company, The Associated Press reported.

The move came after Washington, D.C.-based television station WJLA tested 15 cans of the Gravy Train brand and found 60 percent, or 9 out of the 15 cans, tested positive for the drug pentobarbital.

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The station’s investigation started after a woman said that shortly after feeding Evanger’s pet food to her five dogs, they were falling over and convulsing in 2016. She sent the rest of the dogs’ food and the remains of one of the dogs for testing, where the dog was found to have been poisoned by dog food and that the food contained pentobarbital, WJLA reported last week

In 2017, Evanger’s recalled a batch of its Hunk of Beef food because it was exposed to the drug.

Smucker’s officials, which doesn’t produce Evanger’s, told WJLA that it was investigating the results of the station’s investigation on its food and are working with suppliers. 

Smucker’s officials said this week that the low amounts of the drug found in the station’s investigation is not a threat to pets.

WJLA reported that their test showed non-lethal levels but any amount of the drug is not permitted according to federal law.

“However, the presence of this substance at any level is not acceptable to us and not up to our quality of standards,” Smucker’s officials told the AP.

The company said it doesn’t use meat from animals that were euthanized in its pet food products, the AP reported.

For more on the company’s decision to return the products, click here for Gravy Train information and here for Kibble ‘N Bits.

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Florida school shooting timeline: Seven minutes, three floors and 17 dead

Published: Friday, February 16, 2018 @ 11:32 AM

Victims of the Florida High School Mass Shooting

Nikolas Cruz, the gunman charged with killing 17 people at a Parkland, Florida, high school Wednesday afternoon, has reportedly confessed to the shooting and, his attorney says, is now on suicide watch.

Cruz, according to a timeline put together by police, set off alarms as he entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, the school he had been expelled from, hoping to get more people into the hallways and into his line of fire.

After firing into classrooms and at students in the hallways, Cruz dropped the weapon he had with him, an AR-15 weapon purchased legally one year ago, and blended in with the crowd of students fleeing the building.

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From the school, he headed to a Subway and bought himself a soft drink, went to a McDonald's to sit for a few minutes, left the restaurant and was arrested a short time later without incident.

On Thursday, he was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

Here, from information from the Broward County’s Sheriff’s Office, is a timeline of the events that happened that day.

Feb. 14, 2018 (all times are local Florida time)
  • 2:06 p.m.: An Uber driver picks up Cruz, who asks to be driven to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
  • 2:19 p.m.: It takes 13 minutes to get to the front of the school where the Uber driver drops Cruz off. He has with him an AR-15 inside of a soft gun case and a backpack filled with ammunition. According to a police report, a school employee recognizes Cruz and radios to a colleague that Cruz is headed toward the school’s Building 12.
  • 2:21:18 p.m.: Cruz enters the east stairwell of Building 12 with a rifle inside of the case. Police said the 19-year-old also had smoke grenades and a gas mask.
  • 2:21:30 p.m.: Twelve seconds later, Cruz has taken the rifle from the bag and readied it to fire. At some point, he pulls the fire alarm. Students would later say they were confused by the sound of a fire alarm because they had had a fire drill earlier that morning.
  • 2:21:33 p.m.: As students began to leave the building after the fire alarm, Cruz begins shooting into rooms 1215, 1216 and 1214. Students and teachers, hearing the gunshots, head back into the classrooms. Cruz goes back to rooms 1216 and 1215 fires into them again, then walks to 1213 and fires again. Cruz then takes the west stairwell to the second floor and shoots a person in room 1234.
  • 2:24:39 p.m.: Three minutes after the first shots are fired, Cruz heads up the east stairwell to the third floor of Building 12. According to some reports, he tries to bust out a window on the third floor to shoot at students as they flee the building. The windows in that part of the facility are shatterproof, and Cruz is unable to fire down from the third floor.
  • 2:27:37 p.m.: Three minutes after he gets to the third floor, he goes back into the stairwell, drops the rifle and his backpack and runs down the stairs.
  • 2:28:35 p.m.: Among the fleeing students and staff, he leaves Building 12 and runs west toward the school’s tennis courts, then turns and heads south.
  • 2:29:51 p.m.: A little more than a minute later, Cruz crosses a field and runs west, meeting up with others running from the school.
  • 2:50 p.m.: Some 30 minutes later, he arrives at Walmart. He goes to the Subway located inside the Walmart and buys a soft drink. He then leaves on foot.
  • 3:01 p.m.: Cruz goes to a McDonald’s and sits in the restaurant for a few minutes. He leaves the restaurant on foot.
  • 3:41 p.m.: Forty minutes later, an officer from the Coconut Creek Police Department spots Cruz on Wyndham Lakes Drive in Coral Springs. The Broward Sheriff’s Department responds to the call that the young man who is now a suspect in the shootings has been spotted. He is positively identified by officers and taken into custody without incident.

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