Ward Hall and His World of Wonders
King of The Sideshow
Anyone that has spent time with Ward Hall is captivated by his memory and eloquence. He has accomplished so much in his lifetime. He has even produced a Broadway play.
Ward Hall has written four books, four musical stage productions, has appeared in seven movies, more than 100 videos and TV Specials, performed in Madison Square Garden and Lincoln Center in New York City and has sung in Carnegie Hall.
Ward Hall spearheaded a campaign against a 1921 Florida statute banning the exhibition of malformed, deformed or disfigured humans. He was successful: three years later, judges held the sideshow prohibition “unconstitutional” – because people with deviating bodies have the right to work.
Ward felt that people were going to gawk anyway, why not make them pay for the privilege? He taught them how to make money, and brought them into a makeshift family (“I was the Papa,” he says proudly). Many stayed with him all their lives.
Ward Hall said in his book My Very Unusual Friends: “I have enjoyed being friends with all these wonderful people. I believe they are generally more stable and well adjusted than the average populace.
These people know who they are and what they are. In becoming sideshow attractions, they made an asset of what most would consider a handicap. As a person who is exceptionally attractive may become a model or a person with an exceptional voice may become a singing star, these people intelligently capitalized on their difference.”
Ward Hall has worked with so many famous people in the sideshow industry such as the Percilla Bejano the Monkey Girl, Norbert Pete Terhurne (Poobah) the 3 ft 7-inch dwarf fire eater, Dick Brisbane, with feet growing directly from his hips, causing a waddling walk, became Penguin Boy. Stanley Barent, born with stumps for arms, became Sealo the Seal Boy. Louise Capps Hill, the armless girl who drove a tractor, milked cows, played guitar and raised her children on her farm, Grace McDaniels the Mule-Faced Woman, Melvin Burkhart the Anatomical Wonder, Eddie Camel, Giant, Betty Lou Williams, the Double Bodied Girl, Frank Lentini the Three Legged Man, Dolly Reagan the Ossified Girl, Betty Macgregor – Stella The Beared Lady, Sandra Reed the Albino Girl, Albert Short the Rubber Man, William Dirks the Three-Eyed Man or the Two-Faced man, and Johann Peterson the Viking Giant just to name a few.
As a boy, Ward always wanted to be a circus performer. He made the dream a reality. He visited each circus as it came through his hometown. He read books in the Denver Public Library on the circus. He learned about the Billboard, a weekly show business newspaper. He learned he could find the routes of each circus. Then he saw that the Dailey Brothers Railroad Circus would be showing in nearby Boulder, Colorado in July of 1945. He took the Greyhound Bus to Boulder and worked to earn a pass to the show by helping to set it up.
Ward began practicing doing magic tricks, fire eating, and puppeteering using instructions from library books.
Here is what Marc Hartzman wrote after learning of Ward