Hal Denver

Hal Denver

Hal Denver was the stage name of Ralph Norman, second son of Tom Norman ‘The Silver King’.
Hal was born on 22nd August 1909, his early career started in the travelling fairground with his family but it wasn’t until he moved to the circus arena as a Wild West speciality act that he became famous.

His extraordinary skills with the lasso and knife throwing quickly catapulted him into the world of variety entertainment on both sides of the Atlantic. He appeared in variety bills alongside performers like Dick Henderson, Morecambe and Wise, Edith Piaf and Tony Martin and featured in leading theatres in Vegas and Broadway.

His career as a performer was not limited to circus and variety shows, between the 1930s and 50s Hal appeared in many cowboy films and life rodeos in America as well as some of the biggest television shows such as the Ed Sullivan and Johnny Carson Shows alongside Elvis Presley and Gene Autry.

Outside the variety scene he worked with some of the biggest circus in the world, including Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey in America and Blackpool Tower and Billy Smart in England. He also became a circus proprietor, travelling his own circus under names like 'The Silver King Circus' and 'The Great American Circus' amongst others.

Hal married and divorced three times and had two sons Monty and Michael, both of whom appeared with him in the circus but eventually left the business to follow their own paths. His son Michael, also known as Micky Van, went to become a renowned top boxing referee.

Hal Denver worked on the entertainment industry until his death whether it was cabaret, theatre, film or television appearing in household name programmes such as Emmerdale and Coronation Street in his later days. Hal died 24 July 1994 in Leeds, England.