At the doorstep of ‘Let’s Make a Deal’
September 1973: Contestants line up before taping of the popular television game show “Let’s Make a Deal,” hoping to be selected for the show’s trading floor.
This image by staff photographer Marianna Dimos accompanied a Sept. 9, 1973, View section article by Times staff writer Beth Ann Krier.
“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.
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.
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.
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