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Monty HallEd. note: When news of Monty Hall’s passing reached me, my initial reaction was: “Has there ever been anyone who had done more, not only for Jewish causes, but for so many other causes as well?
When I read accounts of Monty’s life in the Free Press, I was disappointed that there was but scant mention of his Jewish roots. Yes, he was a “north ender”, which every story about him noted repeatedly. But Monty wasn’t just a “north ender”; he was a proud “Jewish” north ender who never missed an opportunity to remind people of his Jewish heritage.
I began to scan our own archives (which are accessible to anyone simply by going to our website and clicking on the “search archives” link). I was astonished to find 109 references to Monty Hall in different stories. Although I couldn’t possibly find the time to read everything we had about Monty, I was curious to see what our earliest references were to him.
This is what I came up with:

Monty kidFrom the Jan. 16, 1941 issue:
Mr. Halparin is one of the featured players in the New Theatre major revue, ‘Off the Record,’ Friday and Saturday, January 17 and 18, at the Dominion theatre.
Mr. Hal-parin is well known in dramatic Circles. He had an important role in the University production of “You Can’t Beat Fun.”
The cast includes Ted Cohen, who gained prominence on the stage in England, Robert Leipsic, Joe Tessler, Joseph Zuken, Ruth Popeski and others.

From the March 27, 1941 issue:
(Referring to a program organized by “Council”, the article didn’t say it, but the reference must have been to “Hadassah Council”.)
 An entertaining program has been arranged and will include a group of songs by Mrs. M. H. Halparin and Monty Halparin.. Mr. Halparin will sing a victory-song, “Here Is -to You”, written by a Winnipeg boy Ernest Diamond.”

The story how Monty was rejected from entering medical school at the University of Manitoba is well known. In our November 27, 2016 issue we reported on a talk given by writer Eva Wiseman, who is writing a history of Jewish physicians in Manitoba. Eva noted that “An outstanding student, Monty applied to medical school twice” (and was rejected both times).” In the years in which Monty applied to enter medical school, fewer than five Jewish students were admitted in any year – out of more than 55 who were admitted in total each of those years.

I also contacted Stan Carbone, curator of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada, to inquire whether the Heritage Centre had some good pictures of Monty. Stan told me that he had actually visited Monty in his home in California some years ago and was able to take pictures of photos that Monty had. We’ve reproduced some of those pictures here.
But I also asked Stan whether he had a good account somewhere of the story how Monty had been helped by Max Freed to go to university. It’s a well-known story and Stan told me that he had two different accounts of that story - one written by the late Harry Gutkin in his book, “The Worst of Times The Best of Times”. The other account was written by Monty himself, in his own autobiography, “Monty Hall - America’s Top Trader”. Stan sent copies of both accounts to me and I chose to reproduce Harry Gutkin’s telling of the story here:

   Hall continued a second year with his studies, but dropped out before the final examination. He had run out of steam and out of funds. There was no  point in going to college. He took a job in a wholesale clothing house for nine dollars a week.
“My father’s favourite entertainment gave me my chance. One day at a poker game he ran into a man named Max Freed who owned a garment factory across the street from the wholesale house. Freed had seen me at work and wondered why I was in such a dead-end place. No money for college, my father explained. ‘Have him come and see me,’ Freed directed.”
The next day Hall spoke to Freed and acknowledged that he did indeed want to go on to university, to study medicine. And at a crucial moment in his life, he became aware of an act of great human kindness. “I’m going to arrange it for you,” Freed said. “You can go back for as many years as is necessary. Figure out how much money you need for tuition, books, clothing, and pocket money, and I’ll give it to you.”
Hardly knowing what to make of his stroke of luck, Hall projected his expenses at a modest $300 a year, and his benefactor agreed, attaching a few strings to his offer. Monty had to report to him monthly, to maintain high grades, and to promise to repay the debt in full. He was also to help others in the same way, and keep the arrangements secret from everyone except his parents.
Freed explained that because he himself had been handed everything in life, he wanted to help someone less fortunate. He had tried it before, he said, without success. Monty was not to disappoint him.
“Well, I kept every promise except the last one, not to tell anyone, and eventually I paid back the money – without interest.
“But I never became a doctor. I finished my final pre-med year and stood in the top ten of those applying to the Manitoba Medical College, some three hundred in all. Although seventy were accepted, I was not. The deadly quota system at the medical college restricted access by minority groups, and I didn’t make it.”
Disappointed, but willing to try again, Hall remained at university and took another year of Science. He got good grades, was elected Senior Stick of Science and president of the university Booster Club, and participated in athletics. Again he applied to the medical college, again he was not accepted.
He did well scholastically a third time, was elected president of the entire student body, the first Jew to attain that position, but he failed once more to make the medical college. Despite his frustration, Hall decided to remain in school for a fifth and final year. He participated int the on-going campaign to end discrimination at the medical college, but by this time his interest had shifted elsewhere.

Monty studentIn later years, as Monty’s career,  first in radio, then in television, began to skyrocket, we regularly carried stories about Monty. Here’s one from the May 15, 1954 issue:
Toronto (Special) - Monty Hall, Toronto television and radio star, formerly of Winnipeg, was named winner of the Variety Club’s annual Heart Award for the most significant contribution to charitable work of the club during the past year.
He received a plaque presented by R. W. Bolstad, the club’s chief barker and international representative of Variety Clubs International.
Mr. Hall, just returned from a vacation, was unaware he had been chosen for the award until a few minutes before his name was announced.
His efforts in behalf of the club included recruiting casts and producing out-of-town variety shows.
He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. M. H. Halparin, Balfouria Apartments, Winnipeg.

In a June 1976 issue our Hollywood reporter at that time, Barney Glazer wrote about Monty:
Monty Hall told about “his grandfather, a poor immigrant from Russia, who arrived around the turn of the century with many others, in Toronto and Montreal, and was shipped out to Manitoba.
When the elder Hall arrived at the railroad station in Winnipeg, there was a little elderly man running about the tracks shouting, “Are there any Yidden?”; a representative of the community, he took the young immigrant into his care, gave him a place to live, some clothing, money, and a pushcart with vegetables to sell at the street market. This is the way Monty Halls’s sense of charity was born.

From “The Irrepressible Mr. Hall”
By Herbert Luft - Sept. 27, 1979
Monty Hall began to act and sing at age five in neighborhood shows. His professional career started in Winnipeg while he was attending the University of Manitoba en route to a bachelor of science degree. At radio station CKRC he did a little bit of everything, singing, script writing – emceeing, engineering. At the same time, he played in college musicals and dramatic productions and – with World War II in progress – sang in shows for the Canadian armed forces. After obtaining his degree, he went on to Toronto, where he joined the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Simultaneously, he worked as a sportscaster for CBC and CHUM in Toronto. In 1949, he created and hosted “Who Am I?”, which became Canada’s longest-running radio quiz show. Under contract to Colgate-Palmolive, he produced and directed a soap opera, “The Story of Martha Reed” and hosted two other radio shows for the same company. When TV emerged in Canada in 1952, he emceed two of CBC TV’s earliest , “Floor Show” and “Matinee Party.”
In 1955, Monty went to New York to replace Warren Hull for one week as emcee of “Strike It Rich.” Many other offers resulted and he decided to stay on. Among assignments which followed were a five-year run as communicator of NBC radio’s “Monitor,’” emcee of CBS-TV’s “Keep Talking,” plus a daily interview show on Channel 5, “Monty Hall.” He also did the New York Rangers’ hockey broadcasts, reported wrestling from Sunnyside Arena, and was Manhattan’s first soccer play-by-play man. In 1960, he became emcee of CBS’s “Video Village”.
When “Video Village” shifted to Los Angeles, Monty moved to the West Coast. Shortly afterwords, he packaged his first television property, “Your First Impression,” and sold it to NBC. He created “Let’s Make a Deal,” which went on NBC, with Monty as host, in January of 1964. After five years, it shifted to ABC, where it continued to air daily and be among the highest rated of all daytime TV shows for another seven and one-half years. In April of 1971, Monty made his Las Vegas debut at the Sahara Hotel with a singing-dancing-comedy act. He appeared on the NBC-TV two-hour dramatization of “Joshua Tree,” as well as on “Love Boat,” “Love American Style,” “The Odd Couple,” and “That Girl.” He made singing guest appearances on “The Flip Wilson Show,” “Dean Martin,” and “Dinah Shore Show.” During the summer of 1978 he was busy on tour, starring as Harrison Floy in the stage musical, “High Button Shoes. “
In the fall of 1970, when two plane crashes killed dozens of members of both Wichita State University and Marshall University football teams, Monty organized a televised coast-to-coast all-star show to raise funds to meet the needs of the families of those killed; It was an effort pointed out by Rep. Thomas M. Rees in the U.S. House of Representatives, in which he hailed Hall as being “something much more important than the host of a popular television show; He is a humanitarian.”
Throughout his adult life, Monty Hall has been active in Jewish organizations, serving on the board of governors of United Jewish Welfare Fund in Los Angeles at the present; and on the boards of State of Israel Bonds and the Los Angeles Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
In 1960, the Jewish National Fund dedicated a park in honor of Monty’s mother, Rose Halparin; it is known as Gan Shoshona (Rose Garden) to perpetuate her name in recognition of her lifetime devotion to the State of Israel. Following her death 10 years later, Monty and his brother Robert created a second park bearing her name in the Carmel Forest.

Here’s something from the 1990 issue about the “Naming of Monty Hall Drive”:

Monty Hall2By MYRON LOVE
With the official unveiling of Monty Hall Drive on Thursday, June 28, Tillie Goren’s long campaign to have a Winnipeg street named in honor of one of the city’s favorite and best known native sons has come to a successful conclusion.
Goren, a lifelong North Ender, first came up with the idea one January day five years ago when a local radio station encouraged people to go to the airport to greet Hall, who was returning to Winnipeg for one of his many fundraising visits.
Although she didn’t know Hall personally, it occurred to her that, with his still strong attachment to his home town and his contributions of good works as a whole, the city should honor him.
Last July, Greg Jasper of Genstar Development Company read an article about Goren and her interest in staging a block party with Hall present to celebrate the street naming.
Jasper, the project manager for Seven Oaks Crossings, contacted her and, as her health was not up to organizing the party, told her Genstar would do it.
It actually turned out to be a triple celebration. Not only was Hall honored with a street name, but so was the Simkin family, who founded Genstar (originally BACM) 40 years ago. Hall and Abe Simkin actually go back a long way together. When Hall was the first Jewish president of the University of Manitoba Students Union, Simkin was the first Jewish treasurer.
Over the years no one wrote more about Monty, especially his ongoing contributions to Variety, the children’s charity, than the late Gene Telpner, who founded the Manitoba branch of Variety together with Monty. Here is what Gene’s wife, Fritzie, had to say about Monty: “Monty was a good friend to us and he will be sadly missed. He visited Gene at the Sharon Home and even sent me a happy birthday video last year for my 95th birthday. He was a real mensch.”

I,  myself, never had the honour of meeting Monty Hall in person, but I did attend several events at which he emceed. I wrote about one of those events in 2011, when I recalled a funny story Monty had told about emceeing a Hadassah dinner in Los Angeles one year.
Apparently, according to Hall, Angelenos prefer to see their evenings end early, since they spend so much time getting home on the freeway.
As it was, this particular function, which had been held to honour a particular individual, had been going on well past its appointed end time, when the guest speaker was called upon to speak. That particular guest speaker was none other than Alexander Haig who, although he not yet been appointed Secretary of State, was Henry Kissinger’s deputy and a man worthy of some respect (especially in Haig’s mind).
Unfortunately, as Hall told the story, someone decided it would be a good idea to have one person at every table receive a rose, which were all delivered from the dais – one at a time. Naturally, this took an interminable amount of time to complete and, by the time Haig got up to speak, guests were getting fidgety about being able to hit the freeway – which, for anyone who has visited Los Angeles, takes a monstrous amount of time to navigate.
As Hall told it, Haig had finished giving his speech, but then proceeded to ask the members of the audience whether there were any questions. At that point, the guest of honour rose up from his seat, went up to Haig, and said: “Enough already!”
Haig was so shaken, Hall noted, that he sat down.

Another time Hall told how he had been asked to MC a Hadassah event in Cleveland. It was the middle of summer, Hall noted.
When he landed at the Cleveland airport, he said he didn’t know who was going to be picking him up – but, sure enough, he spotted two women who he knew were from Hadassah and were there to meet him.
How did he know? Who else would be wearing fur coats in the middle of summer!

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