Let's Make a Deal first aired on NBC in 1963 as part of its daytime schedule. The show moved to ABC in 1968, where it remained until 1976; and on two separate occasions the show was given a weekly nighttime spot on those networks. The first syndicated edition of Let's Make a Deal premiered in 1971. Distributed by ABC Films, and then by its successor Worldvision Enterprises once the fin-syn rules were enacted, the series ran until 1977 and aired weekly.
A revival of the series based in Hall's native Canada was launched in 1980 and aired in syndication on American and Canadian stations for one season. This series was produced by Catalena Productions and distributed in America by Rhodes Productions, Catalena's partner company. In the fall of 1984, the series returned for a third run in syndication as The All-New Let's Make a Deal. Running for two seasons until 1986, this series was distributed by Telepictures.
NBC revived Let's Make a Deal twice in a thirteen-year span. The first was a daytime series in 1990 that was the first to not be produced or hosted by Monty Hall. Instead, the show was a production of Ron Greenberg and Dick Clark. A primetime edition was launched in 2003 but drew poor ratings and was cancelled after three of its intended five episodes had aired.
A partial remake called Big Deal, hosted by Mark DeCarlo, was broadcast on Fox in 1996. In 1998 and 1999, Buena Vista Television (now Disney–ABC Domestic Television) was in talks with Stone-Stanley (the producers of Big Deal) to create a revival hosted by Gordon Elliott, but it was never picked up. The show was one of several used as part of the summer series Gameshow Marathon on CBS in 2006, hosted by Ricki Lake.
As noted above, CBS revived Let's Make a Deal in 2009. The revival premiered on October 5, 2009, and CBS airs the show daily at 10:00 am and 3:00 pm Eastern time (9:00 am and 2:00 pm in other time zones). Like the program that it replaced, the long-running soap opera Guiding Light, affiliates can choose to air it in either time slot; most affiliates, however, prefer the early slot in order to pair the two CBS daytime game shows together.
From September 20 to October 15, 2010, Let's Make a Deal and The Price Is Right aired two episodes a day on alternating weeks. CBS did this to fill a gap between the final episode of As the World Turns, which ended a fifty-four year run on September 17, 2010, and the debut of The Talk. The double-run games aired at 2:00 pm Eastern.
Although the current version of the show debuted in September 2009, long after The Price is Right (which made the switch in February 2008) and the two Sony Pictures Television daytime dramas had made the switch to high definition, Let's Make a Deal was, along with Big Brother, one of only two programs across the five major networks that was still being actively produced in standard definition. For the start of production for its 2014–15 season in June 2014, Let's Make a Deal began being produced in high definition, with Big Brother 16 making the switch later in June. Let's Make a Deal was the last remaining CBS program to make the switch by air date, with the first HD episode airing on September 22, 2014.
As noted above, Monty Hall was the longtime host of Lets Make a Deal. He hosted the original daytime network series for its entire run (with the exception of a short time in early 1972 when Hall fell ill and early television pioneer Dennis James substituted in his stead); Hall also hosted its accompanying primetime and syndicated series as well as the two 1980s syndicated efforts. After The All New Let's Make a Deal went off the air in 1986, Hall's full-time involvement with the show temporarily came to an end. When the series came back on NBC, longtime game show announcer Bob Hilton became the new host in the summer 1990, however due to low ratings, Hilton was fired from the show and in October 1990, Hall returned to the show (but was announced as "guest host") and remained as host until the series was canceled in January 1991, Access Hollywood host Billy Bush emceed the 2003 series, with Hall making a cameo appearance in one episode.
Each Let's Make a Deal announcer also served as a de facto assistant host, as many times the announcer would be called upon to carry props across the trading floor. The original announcer for the series was Wendell Niles, who was replaced by Jay Stewart in 1964. Stewart remained with Let's Make a Deal until the end of the syndicated series in 1977. The 1980 Canadian-produced syndicated series was announced by Chuck Chandler. The All New Let's Make a Deal employed voice actor Brian Cummings in the announcer/assistant role for its first season, with disc jockey Dean Goss taking the position for the following season. The 1990 NBC revival series was announced by Dean Miuccio, with the 2003 edition featuring Vance DeGeneres in that role.
The longest tenured prize model on Let's Make a Deal was Carol Merrill, who stayed with the series from its debut until 1977. The models on the 1980s series were Maggie Brown, Julie Hall (1980), Karen LaPierre, and Melanie Vincz (1984). For the 1990 series, the show featured Georgia Satelle and identical twins Elaine and Diane Klimaszewski, who later gained fame as the Coors Light Twins.
Both Hall (twice) and Merrill have appeared on the current Brady version, including a 2013 appearance to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the franchise.
The original daytime series was recorded at NBC Studios in Burbank, California and then at ABC Television Center in Los Angeles once the program switched networks in 1968. The weekly syndicated series also taped at ABC Television Center, doing so for its first five seasons. After ABC cancelled the daytime series in 1976, production of the syndicated series ceased there as well and the sixth and final season was recorded in the ballroom of the Las Vegas Hilton hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The 1980 Canadian series taped at Panorama Studios in Vancouver, BC, which production company Catalena Productions used as its base of operations. The All-New Let's Make a Deal taped its first season of episodes in Burbank at NBC Studios, then moved to Hollywood Center Studios in Hollywood, California for the second and final season. The 1990 NBC daytime series was recorded at Disney-MGM Studios on the grounds of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The 2003 revival returned production to Burbank.
The current edition of the series originally emanated from the Tropicana in Las Vegas. The show returned to Hollywood in 2010, first at Sunset Bronson Studios and later at Raleigh Studios.
Each episode of Let's Make a Deal consists of several "deals" between the host and a member (or members, generally a married couple) of the audience, referred to as "traders." Audience members are picked at the host's whim as the show moves along, and couples are often selected to play together as traders. The deals are mini-games within the show that take several formats.
In the simplest format, a trader is given a prize of medium value (such as a television set or a few hundred dollars in cash), and the host offers them the opportunity to trade for another prize. However, the offered prize is unknown. It might be concealed on the stage behind one of three curtains, or behind "boxes" onstage (large panels painted to look like boxes), within smaller boxes brought out to the audience, or occasionally in other formats. The initial prize given to the trader may also be concealed, such as in a box, wallet or purse, or the trader might be initially given a box, envelope or curtain. The format varies widely.
Technically, traders are supposed to bring something to trade in, but this rule has seldom been enforced. On several occasions, a trader is actually asked to trade in an item such as their shoes or purse, only to receive the item back at the end of the deal as a "prize". On at least one occasion, the purse was taken backstage and a high-valued prize was placed inside of it.
Prizes generally are either a legitimate prize, cash, or a Zonk. Legitimate prizes run the gamut of what is typically given away on game shows, including trips, electronics, furniture, appliances, and cars. Zonks are unwanted booby prizes (e.g., live animals, large amounts of food, fake money, fake trips or something outlandish such as a giant article of clothing, a room full of junked furniture, etc.). Sometimes Zonks are legitimate prizes but of a low value (e.g., Matchbox cars, wheelbarrows, T-shirts, grocery prizes, etc.). On rare occasions, a trader appears to get Zonked, but the Zonk is a cover-up for a legitimate prize.
Though usually considered joke prizes, traders legally win the Zonks. However, after the taping of the show, any trader who had been Zonked is offered a consolation prize (currently $100) instead of having to take home the actual Zonk. This is partly because some of the Zonks are impractical or physically impossible to receive or deliver to the traders (such as live animals or the guy in an animal costume), or the props are owned by the studio. A disclaimer at the end of the credits of later 1970s episodes read "Some traders accept reasonable duplicates of Zonk prizes." Starting in the 2012–13 season, CBS invited viewers to provide Zonk ideas to producers. At the end of the season, the Zonk declared the most creative was worth $2,500 to the winner, and other viewers' Zonk ideas were also used. For every viewer-developed Zonk, the host announced the viewer who provided the Zonk. The contest has been renewed for its second season in 2013.
As the end credits of the show roll, it is typical for the host to ask random members of the studio audience to participate in fast deals. In the current Wayne Brady version, these are often referred on the CBS version as "quickie deals", and are conducted by the host, announcer, and model each. CBS will post information on the show's Twitter address (@LetsMakeADeal) days before taping to encourage audience members to carry certain items in their pockets in order to win additional cash when one of the hosts approaches them at the end of the show and asks to see such items. The deals are usually in the form of the following:Offering cash to one person in the audience who had a certain item on them.
Offering a small cash amount for each item of a certain quantity.
Offering cash for each instance of a particular digit as it occurred in the serial number on a dollar bill, driver's license, etc.
Offering to pay the last check in the person's checkbook, if they had one, up to a certain limit (usually $500 or $1,000).
Deals were often more complicated than the basic format described above. Additionally, some deals took the form of games of chance, and others in the form of pricing games.Choosing an envelope, purse, wallet, etc., which conceal dollar bills. One of them conceals a pre-announced value (usually $1 or $5), which awards a car or trip. The other envelopes contain a larger amount of money as a consolation prize. The trader must decide whether to keep their choice or trade. In some playings it is possible for more than one trader to win the grand prize.
Making decisions for another person, such as a spouse or a series of unrelated traders. Sometimes after several offers, the teams are broken up to make an individual decision.
Being presented with a large grocery item (e.g., a box of candy bars)—almost always containing a hidden cash amount—or a "claim check" at the start of the show. Throughout the show, the trader is given several chances to trade the item and/or give it to another trader in exchange for a different box or curtain. The final trader in possession of the item prior to the Big Deal is usually offered first choice of the three doors in exchange for giving up the item. The contents of the item are only revealed after the Big Deal is awarded (or prior to the Big Deal if the last trader with the item elected to choose one of the three doors).
A variation of the above: A "cash box", with at various points the host inserting packets of money inside, with the trader allowed to give it to another trader in exchange for a curtain or box. As with the above deal, the host revealed the contents only after the last trader with the box goes for the Big Deal (again, he/she is given first choice of the doors) or after the Big Deal segment and before the closing credits.
A wide variety of chance-based games have been used on the show. Examples:Collecting a certain amount of money hidden inside wallets, envelopes, etc., or by pressing unlabeled buttons on a cash register, in order to reach a pre-stated "selling price" for a larger prize, such as a car, trip or larger amount of cash. Typically, there may also be one or more Zonk items hidden which end the game immediately if found. In the cash register game, if the Zonk button—the one that rings up "No Sale" – is found, the trader was offered a chance to find the second "No Sale" sign to win the grand prize, otherwise the trader won whatever amount was rang up, often double the amount. In the current CBS version, a board with thirteen cash amounts and two Zonks is used.
Choosing one from among several items (e.g., one of three keys that unlocks a safe, one of three diamond rings that is genuine, one of three eggs that is raw, etc.) in order to win money or a prize. Sometimes, two or perhaps all three of the items would pay off with the stated prize, especially if multiple traders played.
Games involving a deck of cards in which a trader must find matching cards, draw cards that reach a cumulative total within a certain number of draws, draw a certain number of cards from a certain suit to win a designated prize (with one suit always designated as going toward a "zonk," which ends the game with nothing won), etc. to win a prize or additional money.
Receiving clues about an unknown prize (such as a partial spelling of the prize or clues in the form or rap, rhyme, etc.) and deciding whether to take the unknown prize or a cash prize.
Receiving money in the form of a long strip of bills dispensed one at a time from a machine. The trader can end the game at any time and keep the accumulated money, but he/she forfeits it if a blank sheet appears. Updated versions of the game involve an ATM. Depositing a card withdraws cash, but if the ATM displays "overdrawn" on the screen the trader loses everything.
Rolling dice to receive cash based upon the roll or achieving a cumulative score within a certain number of rolls to win a larger prize.
Depending on the game, the trader is given the opportunity to stop the game at various points and take a "sure thing" deal or cash/prizes already accumulated or continue on and risk possibly losing.
Other deals related to pricing merchandise are featured in order to win a larger prize or cash amounts. Sometimes traders are required to price individual items (either grocery products or smaller prizes generally valued less than $100) within a certain range to win successively larger prizes or a car. Other times traders must choose an item that a pre-announced price, order grocery items or small prizes from least to most expensive, or two items with prices that total a certain amount to win a larger prize. These games are not used on the CBS version because of their similarities to The Price is Right.
On the CBS version, due to the similarities of the pricing game concept with The Price is Right, quiz games are used instead. These deals involve products in the form of when they were introduced to the market, general knowledge quizzes, currency exchange rates (at the time of taping), or knowledge of geography of trips to certain locales used as prizes.
The Big Deal serves as the final segment of the show and offers a chance at a significantly larger prize for a lucky trader. Before the round, the value of the day's Big Deal is announced to the audience.
The process for choosing traders was the same for every series through the 2003 NBC primetime series. Monty Hall (or his successors) would begin asking the day's traders, usually starting with the highest winner, if they wanted to give back what they had managed to win earlier in the show for a chance to choose one of three numbered doors on the stage. The process continued until two traders agreed to play, and the biggest winner of the two got first choice of Door #1, Door #2, or Door #3. The other trader then chose from the remaining two doors. Since the 2009 series, the Big Deal has been played with just one trader.
Each of the doors conceals a prize package of some sort. Occasionally, a door conceals an all-cash prize (ostensibly hidden inside "Monty's Piggy Bank", the "Let's Make a Deal Vault", or some other similarly-named prop). Sometimes when an all-cash prize is offered the doors are opened and the prop is revealed (but not the amount hidden inside) prior to the trader making his or her door selection, cluing the trader that selecting that specific door will result in an all-cash prize.
The doors are opened in ascending order, with the Big Deal always revealed last regardless if it was selected. The Big Deal prize is usually the most extravagant on each episode, and is often a car or a vacation with first-class accommodations. On rare occasions, the Big Deal involves one of the all-cash prize props mentioned above; in most cases, such as when a car is not part of the package, a cash prize is awarded as part of the Big Deal.
The Big Deal is the one time in the show where a trader is guaranteed to not walk away with a Zonk. However, it is possible for traders to give up prizes from earlier in the show and receive a prize package behind their chosen door worth somewhat or significantly less than the original prize value.
It is also noted the 1984–86 version had big deals worth significantly lower than their 1970s counterparts, especially when adjusted for inflation, usually in the $8,000 to $9,000 range.
During the 1975–76 syndicated season, winners of the Big Deal were offered a chance to win the "Super Deal". At this point, Big Deals were limited to a range of $8,000 to $10,000. The trader could risk their Big Deal winnings on a shot at adding a $20,000 cash prize, which hidden behind only one of three mini doors onstage. The other two doors contained cash amounts of $1,000 or $2,000; however, the $1,000 value was later replaced with a "mystery" amount between $1,000 and $9,000. A trader who decided to play risked their Big Deal winnings and selected one of the mini doors. If the $20,000 prize was behind the door, the trader kept the Big Deal and added the $20,000 prize, for a potential maximum total of $30,000. However, if a trader selected one of the other two doors, he or she forfeited the Big Deal prizes but kept the cash amount behind the door. The Super Deal was discontinued when the show permanently moved to Las Vegas for the final season (1976–77), and Big Deal values returned to the previous range of $10,000 to $15,000.
Since 2012, the Super Deal is offered as a limited event and is not played regularly. The show will designate one or two weeks of episodes, typically airing during a special event (e.g., the 500th episode, 50th anniversary of franchise, etc.), each season for the Super Deal.
For season premiere weeks in the Brady version since Season 7 (2015-16 season), Big Deal of the Day winners have an opportunity to win every non-Zonk, non-cash prize from that day's episode as a "Mega-Deal". Prior to the start of the Big Deal, the contestant picked both a Big Deal curtain and one of seven Mega Deal cards (reduced by one for each day that the Mega Deal was not won that week). Unlike the Super Deal, the contestant does not risk their winnings in the Mega Deal. Only if the contestant won the Big Deal would the contestant's card would be revealed. If the card was the Mega Deal, they won every non-Zonk, non-cash prize on the show that day. Regardless, at the end of the Big Deal, whichever door was chosen was the contestant's to keep.
The week of May 9, 2016 was designated Mash-Up Week; on that week, Deal featured games from The Price is Right, although modified to fit the Deal format. Likewise, Price featured Deal's games but with a twist; the most common twist was guessing the price of items to earn the chance at the games.
Upon the original Let's Make a Deal's debut, journalist Charles Witbeck was skeptical of the show's chances of success, noting that the previous four NBC programs to compete with CBS's Password had failed. Some critics described the show as "mindless" and "demeaning to traders and audiences alike".
By 1974, however, the show had spent more than a decade at or near the top of daytime ratings, and became the highest-rated syndicated primetime program. At the time, the show held the world's record for the longest waiting list for tickets in show-business history – there were 350 seats available for each show, and a wait time of two-to-three years after requesting a ticket.
In 2001, Let's Make a Deal was ranked as #18 on TV Guide's list of "The 50 Greatest Game Shows of All Time". In 2006, GSN aired a series of specials counting down its own list of the "50 Greatest Game Shows of All Time", on which Let's Make a Deal was #7.
In 2014, the American series won a Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Song for "30,000 Reasons to Love Me", composed by Cat Gray and sung by Wayne Brady.
Many of the show's estimated five thousand plus episodes exist:NBC Daytime/Nighttime: Status is unknown though it is very likely that the original tapes were wiped as they were recorded over by NBC with new programming in an era when videotape was prohibitively expensive. The 1963 pilot exists, with Wendell Niles as announcer, traders in normal business attire (typical of its first season), and a Zonk behind one of the doors in the Big Deal (worth $2,005). Zonks have never officially been in the big deal. The 1967 nighttime finale exists in the Library of Congress, along with a few scattered daytime episodes. Three daytime episodes are at the Paley Center for Media.
ABC Daytime: More than 500 episodes exist. A clip from the ABC daytime premiere was used on Monty Hall's "Biography", which aired during Game Show Week on A&E. Another episode from 1969 was found, which features a gaffe that Hall himself rated as his most embarrassing moment on Let's Make a Deal – at the end of the show, he attempted to make a deal with a woman carrying a baby's bottle. Noting that it had a removable rubber nipple, he offered the woman $100 if she could show him another nipple. This clip was restored utilizing the LiveFeed Video Imaging kinescope restoration process, and was re-aired in 2008 as part of NBC's Most Outrageous Moments series. Episodes substitute-hosted by Dennis James exist in his personal library; a portion of one such episode is widely circulated as part of a pitch film for James's version of The Price Is Right.
ABC Nighttime/1971–77 Syndicated: Exist almost in their entirety and have been seen on GSN in the past. The CBN Cable Network reran the syndicated series in the 1980s and its successor, The Family Channel, from June 7, 1993 to March 29, 1996. Episodes of this version currently airs on Buzzr.
The 1980–81 Canadian version was seen in reruns on the Global Television Network for much of the 1980s.
The 1984–86 syndicated version has been seen on GSN in the past. Reruns previously aired on the USA Network from December 29, 1986 to December 30, 1988 and The Family Channel from August 30, 1993 to March 29, 1996. Buzzr began airing episodes from 1985 on June 1, 2016.
The 1990s NBC version has not been seen since its cancellation.
The 2003 NBC prime time version only aired three of the five episodes produced, with no rebroadcasts since.
RTL Group holds international (and as of February 2009, American) rights to the show, and has licensed the show to 14 countries.
* The 1980–81 version aired in both the U.S. and Canada.
In 1964, Milton Bradley released a home version of Let's Make a Deal featuring gameplay somewhat different from the television show. In 1974, Ideal Toys released an updated version of the game featuring Hall on the box cover, which was also given to all traders on the syndicated version in the 1974–75 season. An electronic tabletop version by Tiger Electronics was released in 1998. In the late summer of 2006, an interactive DVD version of Let's Make a Deal was released by Imagination Games, which also features classic clips from the Monty Hall years of the show. In 2010, Pressman Toy Corporation released an updated version of the box game, with gameplay more similar to the 1974 version, featuring Brady on the box cover.
Various U.S. lotteries have included instant lottery tickets based on Let's Make a Deal.
In 1999, Shuffle Master teamed up with Bally's to do a video slot machine game based on the show with the voice and likeness of Monty Hall.
In 2004, IGT (International Gaming Technology) did a new video slot game based on the show still featuring Monty Hall.
In 2013, Aristocrat Technology did an all-new video slot machine game based on the Wayne Brady version.
The Monty Hall Problem, also called the Monty Hall paradox, is a veridical paradox because the result appears impossible but is demonstrably true. The Monty Hall problem, in its usual interpretation, is mathematically equivalent to the earlier Three Prisoners problem, and both bear some similarity to the much older Bertrand's box paradox. The problem examines the counterintuitive effect of switching one's choice of doors, one of which hides a "prize".
The problem has been analyzed many times, in books, articles and online. In an interview with The New York Times reporter John Tierney in 1991, Hall gave an explanation of the solution to that problem, stating that he played on the psychology of the trader, and why the solution did not apply to the case of the actual show.