Ward Hall, "King of the Sideshows," dies at 88

He put the "show" in showman. Ward Hall was known as the king of the sideshows. At one time, he had 13 shows traveling the country, featuring the odd and unusual -- all under one tent.

Hall has died at the age of 88 after a long career in entertainment.

“I think it’s the end of an era,” offered C.M. Christ of World of Wonders.  “He was the last of the old-time showmen.”

During the off-season, Ward would eat breakfast most every day at the infamous Showtown Bar and Grill in Gibsonton.

“It’s hard,” Showtown manager Kim Bougue said.  “I keep thinking about him not coming through those doors anymore.” 

The showbiz bug bit Ward hard while still in his teens. He was a ventriloquist, a magician, and finally a show owner – every step of the way, transforming the mundane into the magical.

He authored three books, three plays, and was always on, ready to tell a story.

“I used to say you could wind him up and he could go 72 hours and keep you entertained,” Christ chuckled.

To the old timers, Ward is an icon.  

“But the new generation,” continued Harold Mudry of Gibsonton, “he will just be a name in the carnival history book.”

Maybe, but he’s one that wrote the book on it as well.