NEW YORK (AP) — Johnny Fox, a sword-swallowing magician who presented his quirky art form to enthusiastic audiences around the world, has died.
The 64-year-old had been battling cancer and died Sunday at a home in Maryland, according to close friend Barbara Calvert. He passed away peacefully, with a smile, while surrounded by loved ones who gave him a standing ovation, she said.
Jules Smith, the president of the Maryland Renaissance Festival, said Fox — though ailing — completed a nine-weekend run there in October.
His haunts included New York, where he ran an oddity-filled Manhattan museum called Freakatorium for 5 1/2 years. The items on display included a shrunken head, a two-headed turtle and clothing from circus performer Tom Thumb, Smith said.
“He even had a glass eye from Sammy Davis Jr.,” she said.
Fox also performed at Coney Island’s freak show.
“He was one of the finest examples of a sideshow virtuoso as well as being a celebrity within our own culture,” said Patrick Wall, general manager of the nonprofit arts organization Coney Island USA.