Hugard was born John Gerard Rodney Boyce in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia.
Over the course of his life he performed as Oscar Kellmann, Chin Sun Loo, Ching Ling Foo, and Jean Hugarde. He was inspired in 1880 seeing a Haselmayer show. He eventually began his professional career in 1896.
One of his full evening shows presented on tour in Australia and New Zealand was a silent Chinese act. He also was known for his bullet catch routine he called "The Great Rifle Feat". He was the first to present it with modern-day guns at the time.
In 1915, he moved to the USA and worked in vaudeville from 1916 until 1918. One of his feature attractions then was "Birth of the Sea Nymph."
He owned and performed in a magic theater in Luna Park (at Coney Island) from 1919-1929. He also appeared in a Broadway Show in 1928 at the Forrest Theater called "The Squealer."
When he retired from performing, he moved to Brooklyn to write and edit magic publications. He wrote more than 30 books on magic. The death of John Northern Hilliard, who had written only the first chapter of his Greater Magic, a lot of manuscript was left to be completed. Carl Waring Jones, who had contracted for its publication, hired Jean Hugard in 1938 to complete and enlarge the text to over 1,000 pages. The book went on to become a standard textbook of magic, which author Henry Hay called "one of the best and largest books ever written about magic."
He was editor of Hugard's Magic Monthly starting in 1943. He was also named the fourth ever Society of American Magicians, Dean of Magicians in 1951. Near the end of his life, Hugard was blind, having lost the sight of both eyes following operations for the removal of cataracts. In spite of this handicap he continued to work in the magic field at his home in Brooklyn, NY.