Let's Make A Deal (1963) Image
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  • Starring: Vance DeGeneres, Billy Bush, Vanessa Minnillo
  • Summary: These people, dressed as they are, come from all over the United States to make deals here at the Marketplace of America,
    Let's Make A Deal®
    One of TV's all time greatest and most successful shows, Let's Make a Deal was a game of intuition, skill, luck, decision-making and greed...all
    These people, dressed as they are, come from all over the United States to make deals here at the Marketplace of America,
    Let's Make A Deal®

    One of TV's all time greatest and most successful shows, Let's Make a Deal was a game of intuition, skill, luck, decision-making and greed...all mixed into one. It was fun and would have been a success even if the show had stuck with the formal dresses and suits that the game started with on December 30, 1963.

    That's right, contestants wore dresses and suits in the very early months of LMaD {December 30, 1963-July 31, 1964}. A few months after the show's premiere on February 3, 1964 someone came with a sign to attract host Monty Hall's attention and low and behold, he chose her (or him)! Sometime later on August 3-7, 1964, someone wore a crazy costume and the entire studio changed from a formal, quiet, dignified setting to a free-for-all. The show came alive and became the legendary success it would be known for.

    Each day, a gallery of 31 contestants (each wearing some loony costume, either their own creation or suggested by the show's producers) vied for Monty's attention.

    One, two or perhaps three at a time, Monty would choose contestants to make a deal with him. Many of the deals would involve either:

    * An unstated amount of cash in Monty's hand or an unknown prize behind the curtain.
    * Keys which unlocked anything from boxes to cars. Usually, the trader had to select from at least three keys. Monty always offered cash or the curtain/box as options. The number of working keys depended on the deal; more than once, every key worked (in the deals involving multiple contestants). Variant: Just three keys shown (only one of which works) and a couple playing for a car chooses the one they think works; Monty always shows one that doesn't work and then offers a substitute prize option.
    * Deciding if leather wallets contained thousands of dollars in cash or car keys or perhaps only a small amount or nothing at all (except for play money or worthless keys). Before the reveal, the contestant could choose the curtain or box.
    * Deciding whether an announced prize was real or fake and choosing a cash amount or the box/curtain as a substitute.
    * Choosing an envelope, purse, wallet, etc., which concealed dollar bills. The contestant could take the cash or trade for the curtain/box, but always risked giving up an announced dollar bill (usually $1 or $5) which awarded a grand prize (usually a car or trip); often, the "consolation" prize was $500, $1000 or $1500.
    * Choosing four of seven envelopes, each containing $1 and $2 bills, whose contents they hoped added up to at least $7 for a grand prize.
    * Monty's Cash Register, wherein a couple had to punch keys on a 15-key register. Exactly 13 of the buttons hid amounts of either $50 or $100, and getting to a stated amount (usually $500-$1000) won a grand prize. The couple could stop at any time and keep what they have (always then being tempted with a follow-up keep-or-trade deal) but hitting "no sale" at any time ended the game; if the unlucky button were struck on the first try, hitting the second "no sale" button the very next time also won the grand prize. Otherwise, Monty allowed the couple to take home whatever dollar amount they hit with the next key punch. * Three unrelated traders acted as a team on deals. Sometimes, only one was allowed to speak for the team without consultation of the others; other times, a "majority rules" format was used. Usually after a series of deals, the team was broken up and could individually decide on one or more options on a final deal.
    * At the start of the show, a contestant given a large grocery item (e.g., a box of candy bars), always containing a cash amount. Throughout the show, he/she is given several chances to trade the box and/or give it to another trader, in exchange for the box or curtain. Only after the Big Deal of the Day was awarded (or if the last trader with said item elects to go for the Big Deal) was the cash amount given. Variant: A "claim check" given to a trader at the start of the show for any prize shown during the regular deals and chances to trade throughout the episode. The prize ranged from cash and cars to zonks. Variant: The "claim check" was played as the very last regular deal with one sure deal offered in lieu of its contents.

    ...* And much more! Sometimes Monty would either sweeten the deal or allow the contestants to call off the deal for cash.

    Sometimes, the contestants did very well -- they could win rooms of furniture, appliances, TVs and stereos, cars, furs, trips, thousands of dollars in cash and MUCH MORE...

    Or they could be stuck with a ZONK! (those silly, nonsense prizes when they made the wrong decision). And yes, there were many zonks -- ranging from:

    * Live animals (usually from local zoos or farms). These included everything from pigs and cattle to skunks and lions, tigers and bears (oh my!)!
    * Rooms full of worthless junk.
    * Antique, broken-down cars (often rusted-out shells with overheated radiators).
    * Oversized mooseheads, deerheads and more.
    * Stuffed teddy bears.
    * Announcer Jay Stewart and model Carol Merrill dressed up as comedy characters. Often, they held such things as oversized paint rollers or were situated on things like jumbo kiddie cars and rocking horses.

    ... and much, much MORE!!!

    Not all the games involved luck or speculation. Some were skill games testing a contestant's knowledge of shopping and products (an early version of the 1970s The Price is Right, if you will). Some contestants had to determine which prize was a stated amount (or sometimes, choose two or more items which added up to a given amount), arrange items in order of value, remember which product was beneath the letter of a car, etc.

    Usually, Monty gave the contestants either a cash buyout or substitute prize either as the game progressed or just before the correct answer was revealed. Even if the contestant lost, he/she was given $50 or $100 as a consolation gift.

    Sometimes, two or more contestants or couples competed in a single deal to guess the prices of items with the closest guessers getting increasing amounts of cash (usually but not always, $100, $200, $300 and $400); if the trader won $700, they won a car. Even the loser got to spend any accumulated winnings on a curtain or box with more cash options thrown in as well.

    When about 7-8 minutes were left, Monty would call on the top winners from the show and ask them if they wanted to trade what they already won for a shot at the Big Deal of the Day � usually worth $2000-$5000 on the daytime show and from $7500 to $15,000 or more on the nighttime and syndicated versions). Once two contestants were selected, they would - with the top winner going first - select a curtain. There were no zonks at this stage, but the contestants risked going home with much less than they won (ergo, trading in a new $2000 kitchen for a color console TV worth $500 or a couple hundred dollars in cash). More than once, contestants traded cars for a chance at the Big Deal, and while they were usually lucky, there was at least one occassion where someone traded their car for less than $100 in prizes!

    Many times, the Big Deal of the Day was a fantastic prize -- such as a motorhome, a cabin cruiser, a four-seat airplane, a mink sable, a modular home, a Cadillac Eldorado convertible and a 60-day trip around the world...or in some cases, $10,000 or more in cash were among the many examples.

    The show debuted on NBC on December 30, 1963-January 3, 1964 and switched to ABC on December 30 1968-January 3, 1969. NBC (and later on ABC) later premiered a weekly prime-time version of the show (NBC's appeared in 1967; ABC's in February 1969) which was a major hit with viewers. A twice-weekly syndicated LMaD surfaced in 1971, and was (yup) a big hit. During the 1975-76 season, the Big Deal winner could risk his/her top prize for a shot at the Super Deal, where behind one of three doors was hidden a $20,000 grand prize; selecting the $20,000 window allowed the contestant to keep the Big Deal, though the Big Deal was forfeited if they chose incorrectly (they received a $1000 or $2000 consolation prize; later, $2000 and another unknown consolation amount between $3000 and $8000). LET'S MAKE A DEAL finished and goes out of business on July 9, 1976.

    During its final original-run season in syndication (1976-1977), the show was taped in Las Vegas, with the final shows taped in December 1976. The Super Deal feature was scrapped, and the last show was said to have featured no zonks.

    An unsuccessful five-day-a-week revival surfaced in syndication in 1980-1981, but would be a modest success when Monty tried again in five-a-week syndication in 1984-1986.
    While cheap prizes were the norm very early in the 1984-1986 run (the most expensive cars were often Chevrolet Sprints and Pontiac 1000s(!)), the show held its own and eventually gave away decent cars -- including a fully equipped $13,000 Chevrolet Camaro and a $15,000 Madza RX7. The most notable change was with a new feature, Door 4. Played twice a week or so, Door 4 was totally a surprise (announced only by sudden quick siren and at times, camera zoom fanfare). A People-Picker computer selected the contestant, and he/she would be presented a check worth $1000. He/she could keep the check or spin a carnival-type wheel for a chance at a new car, $100, $200, $2000, $3000, $4000...or perhaps a zonk (I was ZONKED by Money Hall T-shirt)! Regardless of what he/she decided, they were always asked to spin the wheel just to see what would've happened (when they decided to keep the check, the contestant usually would find out they passed up the car!). A short-lived NBC revival surfaced in 1990-1991, with Bob Hilton serving as host. He didn't last long and Monty was soon making deals; alas, even his return couldn't save the show. An embarassingly bad remake called Big Deal, surfaced in 1996, where contestants performed stunts as part of the game. The revival, which aired on FOX, didn't last long. Neither did a March 2003 hour-long remake of LMaD, with Billy Bush as host. The ratings started off decently and the show appeared promising. However, some critics pointed to questionable content (the opening deal in the premiere had women reaching underneath a stagehand's undergarments to retrieve part of their deal) as a prime reason the revival quickly soured; putting LMaD up against American Idol didn't help. In August 2001, Game Show Network (as of March 2004, simply GSN) began airing reruns of the 1970s LMaD, with the 1980-1981 and 1984-1986 runs part of the package. The show has been (and remains) a wonderful addition to GSN! NBC Broadcast History December 30, 1963-June 26, 1964, Monday-Friday at 2:00-2:25pm June 29, 1964-September 29, 1967, Monday-Friday at 1:30-1:55pm May 21, 1967-September 3, 1967, Sunday at 8:30-9:00pm October 2, 1967-December 27, 1968, Monday-Friday at 1:30-2:00pm July 16, 1990-January 11, 1991, Monday-Friday at 10:00-10:30am March 4-18, 2003, Tuesday at 8:00-9:00pm ABC Broadcast History December 30, 1968-July 9, 1976, Monday-Friday at 1:30-2:00pm February 7, 1969-May 9, 1969, Friday at 9:00-9:30pm May 16, 1969-January 9, 1970, Friday at 7:30-8:00pm January 24, 1970-January 2, 1971, Saturday at 7:30-8:00pm January 18, 1971-August 30, 1971, Monday at 7:30-8:00pm Syndicated History September 13, 1971-September 10, 1977 Various Times September 8, 1980-September 11, 1981 Various Times September 17, 1984-September 12, 1986 Various Times Depending on the TV Market of the area.
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  • Genre(s): Reality, Game Show
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