|Fedor Jeftichew 1864~1904|
Born in Saint Peterburg in 1864, Fedor Jeftichew (Yevtishchev) suffered from the genetic condition of hypertrichosis, with pale coloured, long smooth hair covering most of his body. The condition was said to have been inherited from his father, Adrian, who himself performed as a curiosity in a touring French Circus. However, there were other stories saying that Fedor came from a different family who sold their child to the circus where he was then adopted by Adrian. Whatever the truth of the story, and,whovever Fedor's mother had been, as a double act the pair soon became the stars of freak shows all over Europe. They were known as L'home Chien, the dog men.
When Adrian died of alcoholism, Fedor was contracted to B. T. Barnum who called him 'The most prodigious paragon of all prodigies secured in over 50 years.' Such a treasure was taken to America to join 'The Greatest Show on Earth', Barnum's famous show of freaks.
Now, sixteen years old, Fedor's performance as Jo Jo The Dog Faced Boy was very much enhanced, with the showman concocting the story that he and his father had been found living as savages in a cave in the midst of a Russian forest. The father had been short in self-defence after attacking the men who discovered them, and the infant child Fedor was then 'tamed' by Barnum himself.
Barnum also proclaimed that Fedor could not talk, but would communicate by barking, growling, or howling ~ which the boy then did on command to thrill the audience. This played to the theory of Atavism with many in the Victorian era believing that excessive hair proved a regression the original form of a species. So, an individual like Fedor would be thought of as being closer to the cave men, or apes, or in this case was described as a dog.
Ironically, due to extensive travelling, but also to his intellect, Fedor was actually fluent in Russian, German, and English. He loved to read and did so extensively. Meanwhile, he mourned for his Russian homeland and even wrote to the Russian Consulate to try and find out about his true family and whether his mother might still be alive. But despite his hopes to return, Fedor was too valuable an asset for Barnum to let him go. Unmarried and childless himself, he carried on performing until, on a tour in Greece, he fell ill with pneumonia and died.
Fedor was 40 years old.