His unusual career has earned him the title "the King of the Sideshow." Since managing his first sideshow at 17, Hall, now 79, has helped scores of little people, giants, bearded ladies, conjoined twins, fat ladies, fat men and other attractions earn a living.
"From my very earliest recollection," he said, "it's what I wanted to do."
Hall has been able to keep doing it year after year partly because of his ability to take risks and make personal sacrifices. He never married or had any children to support.
"I've been broke more times than you've got hairs on your head," he said. "But it didn't matter, because no one got hurt but me."
Today Hall's "World of Wonders" show is keeping the 10-in-1 sideshow alive. That's 10 acts continuously running all day in one show. That used to be the standard, but now, Coney Island's Sideshows by the Seashore is the only other 10-in-1 in America. And that show doesn't tour.
Hall's latest tour begins Thursday at the Florida State Fair, and his new lineup features a younger generation of fire-eaters, sword swallowers, human blockheads and more. Famous sideshow freaks of the past, such as Lionel the Lion-Faced Man and Percilla the Monkey Girl, are represented, if only in the form of wax figures.
And then there's Poobah -- a performer from the past and present.
Poobah is a 4-foot-1-inch fire-eating dwarf who just turned 80. He's been with Hall since they first met at a Minnesota fair in 1954. As always, he'll be outside the tent, beneath the hundred-foot stretch of colorful banners that promise, of course, the wonders of the world.
Though he lost his hearing years ago, Poobah, whose real name is Pete Terhurne, hasn't lost his appetite for the torch. "There are days he'll eat fire 25, 30 times out there on that stage," Hall said.
Terhurne will be joined out front by a 28-year-old sword swallower named Tommy Breen, who is in his sixth season with the show. Like many of Hall's performers over the years, he sought out this kind of work. Breen learned the art of sword swallowing, fire-eating and other stunts at the Coney Island Sideshow School while living in Brooklyn, N.Y., and working at a barbecue restaurant. A posting on the Internet led him to Hall's show.
"When I saw the ad, I packed up my stuff and joined up and have been there ever since," Breen said. "It's what I always wanted to do, a real sideshow. ... Not at a nightclub once a month for a gimmick night."
It's just the kind of attitude Hall looks for. "I'm of that generation where I'm trained to work," he said. "You don't find that much anymore."
Nearing his 80th birthday, the showman has no plans to slow down. At least not anytime soon. "I expect to work another 20 years," he said. "Then I want to retire and go traveling so I can see all I missed while I've been on tour all these years."