Fedor Jeftichew — “Jo-Jo The Dog-Faced Boy”
Born Fedor Jeftichew in 1868, “Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy” was a famed freak show performer from Russia, brought to the U.S. at age 16 by P.T. Barnum.
Jeftichew was born with hereditary hypertrichosis (aka werewolf syndrome), which causes an excessive amount of hair growth over the entire body.
While advertising Jeftichew as a “dog-faced boy,” P.T. Barnum claimed that Jeftichew and his father — who had the same condition — had been captured by a hunter while living in a cave in the forest.
Though Jeftichew was described as gentle, his father was depicted as a “savage” who was unable to be tamed and was thus killed by the hunter. In reality, Jeftichew’s father had performed in sideshows just like his son but ultimately drank himself to death with the money he earned.
Billed as “the most prodigious paragon of all prodigies secured by P.T. Barnum in over 50 years,” Jeftichew was highly intelligent and spoke multiple languages. However, he was still forced to bark like a dog on stage.
Jeftichew quickly became one of the most popular circus performers. The New York Herald described him as being as playful as a puppy and “the most absorbingly interesting curiosity to ever reach these shores.”
Tragically, Jeftichew died of pneumonia at age 35 on January 31, 1904, in Greece. When news of his death reached the United States, he was mourned by fans and other performers all over the country.