Jan 15, 2018

Gay Hints on "Let's Make a Deal"

Monty Hall, who died last year at age 92, was not exactly a gay icon, like Tarzan or James West, but he offered a few gay hints during my childhood.  He was the host of Let's Make a Deal, the game show that aired at noon or in the early evening from 1963 to 1986.

I never watched an episode all the way through -- game shows, gross!  -- but I saw snippets here and there, as I was walking through the living room on the way to do something else, or waiting for it to end so I could watch something else.

Glimpses of Monty Hall, a very well-dressed man with a beautiful smile, asking contestants to choose between Door #1, Door #2, or Door #3.  If they got a good prize, like a bedroom set or a car, "the lovely Carol Merrill" would run her hands over it while announcer Jay Stewart extolled its benefits in an obvious advertising ploy.

I never saw men in business in everyday life, except in church on Sunday, so watching Monty Hall walk up and down the aisles brought a frisson of erotic interest.  Nothing as intense as Tarzan or James West, but a frisson.

The end credits said "A Mark Goodson/Bill Todman Production."  I didn't know who Mark Goodson and Bill Todman were, but -- two guys together?  Come on, I thought, they must be boyfriends, sharing a house and a life.

Born Monte Halparin in Winnipeg in 1921, wearing a business suit even as a student at the University of Manitoba in 1944, Hall worked in radio before hosting the Canadian game show Who Am I? on television (1952-59).  He moved to New York in 1955 and hosted children's shows, sports programs, and of course game shows before developing Let's Make a Deal.

Over the years he appeared on many other talk shows and game shows, and played himself, or a parody of himself, on That Girl, Laugh-In,  Love, American Style, Love Boat, Providence, The Nanny, and That 70s Show.

Sometimes you don't need to flex anything.  A beautiful smile and a business suit are enough.

By the way, Mark Goodson, Bill Todman, Jay Stewart, Carol Merrill, and Monty Hall were probably all heterosexual.

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