Carson City newlyweds Cole and Linda Schmidt carefully had to make sure she was stepping up on a chair just right in her wedding dress for filming purposes. Neither of them were too concerned about her falling from it, though. Linda also had television host and comedian Wayne Brady at her side holding her hand and propping her up just in case. “It was so neat,” Linda said. “Cole was helping me out on the chair and he said, ‘Oh, he’s such a gentleman.’” The rare experience last year to audition for the CBS show “Let’s Make a Deal,” then to be interviewed and finally appear as contestants in February was an amusing opportunity for a couple whose own relationship is as exciting as the show. Cole and Linda Schmidt were chosen in part based on their own “one-in-a-million” love story that began in their youth in the 1960s and continues now as a happily wedded couple. “We thoroughly enjoyed it,” Cole said, recalling the past year and being a part of the taping. “We never, ever thought for one minute we would be chosen.” This week, after nearly a year-long process, they’re eagerly awaiting to see their appearance on Wednesday’s episode of “Let’s Make a Deal” hosted by Brady at 9 a.m. on CBS. Magic of ‘Match.mom’ Cole and Linda like to say they met through “Match.mom” when they were set up by their parents on a blind date back in 1966. They began dating and fell in love shortly after, but Cole soon enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He would ask Linda to marry him and provided her with a gold necklace with a charm that had the words “I Love You.”
Linda and Cole Schmidt on a dinner date together in 1967 before breaking up.
But not wanting her daughter to throw away “their best years” while he was off serving in the military, Linda’s mother made her break up with him and she returned the necklace to Cole.“I said, ‘I can’t do that, Mom, no way’ … and I said, ‘I’ve got to do what my mom says,’ ” Linda explained to Cole at the time. “My dream was to apply for secretary of the Navy,” he said and made plans to move to Minneapolis. By 1967, they had broken up, and Cole went to preparatory school in 1968. He asked for Linda’s hand in marriage again, and she declined again. The two would go on their separate ways after that, each getting married a few years later. The years went on and 1984 arrived. Cole’s mother finally got back in touch with Linda and let her know Cole was separating from his wife, and Linda’s marriage no longer had worked out, either. “We reconnected on Facebook with my sisters,” Cole, now 72, said. “And my other sister and my mother were begging us to find Linda, so I went on Facebook and I found her through happenstance through her brother’s wife and her sister-in-law, and we got back together in 2016, then we got married in 2018.” The couple finally had their first face-to-face meeting since 1968 in 2016 after reconnecting online. Linda, 73, who formerly worked for a cosmetics business and other management companies prior to marrying Cole, said although she previously had been offered promotions in other jobs elsewhere, has been very happy every since. “I have two beautiful girls, and everything’s been perfect,” she said. The game The format of the show is known for its contestants to dress up in outrageous costumes to increase their likelihood of becoming traders to be offered something of value. They’re allowed to decide to keep it or exchange it for something else, unknown to them, a prize referred to as a “zonk.” The original show hosted by Monty Hall first aired in the United States in 1963. The current format hosted by Wayne Brady on CBS began in October 2009 with Jonathan Mangum as Brady’s announcer, and a hybrid model was adopted with contestants playing virtually from home last year due to the pandemic. The Schmidts first applied last year after responding to a Facebook advertisement seeking anyone who would be interested. The producers followed up asking if they would be willing to commit to a Zoom interview, which they agreed to follow up afterward. “After that, it was silent for a while,” Cole said. “COVID took in, and we finally heard back form them in an e-mail. They were thinking of putting us on the show, and they asked us about our story.” Their selection, however, was truly unique based on their original Zoom interview with the producers, one that Linda said likely was based on their “one-in-a-million” story. “During our first Zoom meeting, in our interview with this producer, he went crazy over our story,” Cole said. “He said, ‘Wayne Brady is going to go crazy over this story.’” They were told they would need to be tested for COVID to appear on the show and finally, production came to a stop earlier this year, Cole said. “It wasn’t all their fault they had to halt production in January,” he said. “They probably closed it for the holidays. They let us know they appreciated us hanging on for the stretch.” They were invited to go to the studio in Southern California, both having tested negative for COVID as required beforehand, and they appeared where tapings for the show occur three times a day, Cole said. The Schmidts described the audition process as very organized. While the couple wasn’t allowed to provide much detail about what the actual experience in Southern California was like or on how much they were aware of would be edited out from their time on the show, he added Brady gave them free reign to share their story and enjoyed hearing their account. “They loved it,” he said. “Wayne was talking to us. … They’ve got cheat sheets. … He loves to talk. … He was in awe, his eyes were wide open … and he told the cameras, ‘Get up close on the necklace. It was so good.’ We had a lot of fun on our segment.” The Schmidts said anyone who might consider a similar venture should not “think about it – just do it. It’s fun.”