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, reports the AP. He was 96. Hall died Saturday of heart failure at his home in Beverly Hills, said his daughter, Sharon Hall. He had been in poor health since a heart attack in June just after the death of his wife of almost seven decades, reports CNN. 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 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. The energetic, quick-thinking Hall, a sight himself with his sideburns and colorful sports coats, was deemed the perfect host in Alex McNeil's 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. His daughter Sharon estimated Hall managed to raise nearly $1 billion for charity in his lifetime. (Read more game show hosts stories.)