Johnny Fox passed away on December 17, 2017 at the age of 64 of liver cancer. Most notably, Johnny Fox was a well-respected American professional sword swallower and sleight of hand expert, performing for 37 seasons at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. His engaging and hilarious act included sword swallowing and magic, such as cups and balls, coin tricks, swallowing of a balloon, water from India, and other favorite routines. His last season with the festival included stories about believing in yourself. Johnny Fox said this past summer at the MDRF, “It’s an honor to have a job where I can make people laugh…”
On January 6, 2018, fans, friends, and co-workers gathered at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis to celebrate the life of Johnny Fox. The event featured musicians, speakers, a slide show, a puppet, a stage filled with swords, old show banners, and one of Fox’s costumes displayed on a mannequin. It was organized by the MDRF with significant help from Joan and Scott Houghton, and directed the day of the event by Arsene Dupin.
Host Arsene Dupin, a longtime performance partner of Fox, delighted the audience by performing Fox’s famous water from India trick throughout the afternoon. Before the presentation, a thoughtful audience member gave Dupin a bottle of water that was actually from India. At one point, Dupin presented the bottle of water to the audience, poured it into the vessel, and then performed the trick using real water from India!
A highlight of the event included 14 sword swallowers from all across the country giving a “21 sword swallowing salute” in memory of Fox. The gesture garnered an emotional standing ovation from the packed theatre.
The ceremony came to a dramatic conclusion as Arsene Dupin implemented the ceremonial breaking of the magician’s wand, presenting it to Fox’s partner, Barbara “Tammy” Calvert and Kelly Fox, Johnny’s son.
The memory of Johnny Fox will live on at the MDRF since this past summer the Royal Stage was renamed the Royal Fox Theatre in his honor.