June 24, 2024
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Legendary sword swallower, magician Johnny Fox dies

From the Maryland Renaissance Festival:

The Maryland Renaissance celebrates the life and career of Johnny Fox, sword swallower, magician, illusionist and comedian, who passed away peacefully December 17th, 2017. Johnny Fox was a unique mainstay of the Festival, more than eight million people passed through the gates of the Festival and most saw Johnny Fox’s stage show. In a career spanning more than forty-five years, Johnny performed for thirty-seven at the Festival outside Annapolis, Maryland.

Johnny Fox became interested in magic at the age of eight and became a Harry Houdini enthusiast when his father gave him a book about the artist. Beginning his performance career in st. Petersburg, Florida Johnny developed a show that took him all over the world. When others started to copy his magic act he taught himself to swallow swords. Johnny Fox thrilled audiences at renaissance festivals from New York, Ontario Canada, Houston and Dallas Texas, Minnesota, Colorado, Kansas City and Connecticut. Johnny also appeared on many television shows, among them Merv Griffin, Jonathan Winters, The View and David Letterman. Many performances are immortalized on YouTube.

Johnny Fox was the holder of The Guinness Book of World Records for swallowing the most swords at one time, sixteen, until they eliminated that as they deemed the category too dangerous. Johnny could swallow a sword twenty-two inches long, drive an eight inch spike into his nose and finished his performance by swallowing a five foot long balloon. Known for encouraging other performers, Johnny shared his performance skills with many other stage shows he befriended over the years. From 1996 until 2005 Johnny also owned and operated the Freakatorium El Museo Loco in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Featuring his collection of curiosities, including a two-headed turtle, General Tom Thumb’s vest, Sammy Davis, Jr.’s glass eye and many side show memorabilia in his attraction modeled on Hubert’s Museum and Flea Circus in Times Square.

Johnny Fox was born November 13, 1954, a Friday the thirteenth, in Minneapolis, Minnesota and passed away from liver cancer on December 17th, 2017 in Damascus, Maryland in the company of good friends. At the beginning of his last season of performing in Maryland the stage he occupied was renamed the Royal Fox Theatre, which he unveiled August 26th, 2017.

Funeral arrangements are private. A public memorial will be held at a later date.

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