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P. T. Barnum
Date: 1810 - 1891
Remarks: Phineas Taylor Barnum tried his hand at a number of trades; he did everything from peddle goods to run a boardinghouse. However it was not until 1835, when he purchased Jocie Heth, a woman claiming to be 161 years old and the former nurse of George Washington, and began to exhibit her that he made a name for himself. Barnum followed the success of Jocie Barnum with exhibits such as the "Fiji Mermaid" and Tom Thumb, and his career in show business took off. Aside from running a show of extravangant exhibits, Barnum also managed the singer Jenny Lind's American tour and ran the American Museum in New York City. In 1855, he retired from show business and even served as mayor of Bridgeport, CT; however unsuccessful financial ventures soon drove him back to the world of show business and in 1871, he organized his famous circus, "The Greatest Show on Earth". P.T. Barnum died on April 7, 1891, with his family by his side, after many months of illness. - Source: http://www.bartleby.com/65/ba/Barnum-P.html