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From the Archives: At the doorstep of ‘Let’s Make a Deal’

Aug. 1, 1973: Possible contestants line up before taping of "Let's Make a Deal."
Aug. 1, 1973: Possible contestants line up before taping of “Let’s Make a Deal.”
(Marianna Diamos / Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)

The contestants come as anything including televisions, pizzas and set dining room tables, all hoping for a chance to trade on “Let’s Make a Deal.”

This image above by Marianna Dimos accompanied a Sept. 9, 1973, Los Angeles Times View section article by writer Beth Ann Krier that began:

“Life,” a friendly connoisseur of daytime television recently suggested, “is ‘Let’s Make a Deal.’ The program is split-second decisions. It’s costumes. It’s greed. It’s heartbreaking. It’s spectacular. It’s put down by the critics. It’s enormously middle class. It will go on forever. It’s the most honest thing on television. It’s the best fashion parade there ever was or ever will be.”

Certainly, it was worth a look.

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And sure enough, there, waiting in the harsh Hollywood sunlight that is still beating down around 5:30 on September afternoons, were the celebrities for a day who have turned “Let’s Make a Deal” into the most popular daytime drama this summer outside of the Senate Watergate hearings.

They were unmistakable. No one could miss the show’s cast of gameful loony birds presumably motivated by the same sort of curiosity that moves people to high school reunions and gambling tables.

An accountant wore a cardboard television set on his head. A pregnant housewife was resplendent, as fashion commentators say, in a leather jacket, greased ducktail and Roy Orbison sunglasses….

Second-guessing how the selection process works seems to be the pastime, once contestants are lined up and begin waiting almost three hours until taping begins.

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Actually, the choosing is fairly subjective and usually dependent on the whims and formulas of writer Bernie Gould and daytime producer Alan Gilbert.

“We always have at least two people do the picking. We’re human and obviously we’re going to have certain biases we’re not aware of and this washes them out,” Gould noted one night after he and Gilbert surveyed the evening’s bonny conglomeration of screaming meemies, high jumpers and assorted attention getters. ...

The original “Let’s Make a Dear” ran from 1963 through 1976. New versions of the game show continue to this day.

An earlier version of this post appeared on May 30, 2012. This version was updated with three additional photos.

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Aug. 1, 1973: Host Monte Hall with two contestants during taping of the television show "Let's Make a Deal."
Aug. 1, 1973: Host Monte Hall with two contestants during taping of the television show “Let’s Make a Deal.”
(Marianna Diamos / Los Angeles Times )
Aug. 1, 1973: Host Monte Hall, standing right, with two contestants dressed as painters, during taping of the television show "Let's Make a Deal." This photo appeared in the Sept. 9, 1973, Los Angeles Times.
(Marianna Diamos / Los Angeles Times )
Aug. 1, 1973: Taping of the television show "Let's Make a Deal." Monte Hall is standing on left side of image next to two contestants dressed as painters.
(Marianna Diamos / Los Angeles Times )

See more from the Los Angeles Times archives here

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