The Fakir (and Faker) of Ava

“The Fakir of Ava” (1813-1891) is today chiefly remembered as the mentor and teacher of The Dean of American Magicians, Harry Kellar, and thus progenitor of a long chain of magicians who came afterward. Ava is in Burma, and the Fakir’s stage shows were exercises in Eastern exotica. His biggest illusion of all however was the notion that he had anything to do with South Asia. His real name was Isaiah Harris Hughes and he hailed from Essex, England. Most of his life and career were spent in the U.S. where he wowed ’em on the stage of P.T. Barnum’s American Museum and elsewhere. Having made a fortune from performing, Hughes built a large estate in the then-rising city of Buffalo, New York, where he is now buried.

To learn more about show business, including magicians like The Fakir of Ava, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous