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Clarence Hunter

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Clarence Hunter
BornOctober 7, 1920
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
DiedJanuary 1, 1993 (age 72)

Clarence "Chandu" Hunter (1920-1993) was an African-American magician who posed as a "Hindu" in order to get work. His most famous trick was "The Human Cigarette Lighter" in which he blew flames through a metal tube to light the cigarette of an audience volunteer.


Hunter began performing in 1940 in carnivals where performed fire-eating and walking on broken class. He wore a turban and took a stage name "Chandu" from the movie Chandu the Magician.

Within a few years, he had his own radio show in Pittsburgh, a fifteen-minute daily show that brought him more bookings in nightclubs and theaters. By the late 1940s, he was touring the East Coast working at theaters, performing a brief midnight magic show before the screening of horror films.

Hunter relocated to San Francisco, California, around 1950, still doing his fire-eating act. He performed on NBC-TV's "Breakfast in Hollywood" show in 1954 and was an extra in several Hollywood films.

In the late 1950s, he moved to Cleveland, Ohio, married, and went to work as a building maintenance man at a YMCA branch and as a photographer. Under his own name, he continued to perform his magic and fire-eating act at schools, nightclubs, parties, and trade shows.

Hunter retired from maintenance work in 1990 and at the age of 70 continued performing magic at hospitals and benefits, which he did until cancer forced him to curtail his activities.[1]


  1. Conjure Times : Black Magicians in America by Jim Haskins, Kathleen Benson (2001)