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Yoko Ono | Kyoko Chan Cox | Source: Getty Images
Yoko Ono | Kyoko Chan Cox | Source: Getty Images

Kyoko Chan Cox Is Yoko Ono's Daughter Who Vanished for Years Though Rebuilt Their Relationship in Her Adulthood

Aug 13, 2023
11:15 P.M.

Kyoko Chan Cox's mother, Yoko Ono, and stepfather, John Lennon, spent years searching for her after her dad abducted her and joined a cult.

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Kyoko Chan Cox, who also goes by Kyoko Ono Cox, Kyoko Ono, and briefly, Ruth Holman, was eight when her dad, filmmaker Anthony Tony Cox violated a court order and went on the run with her on Christmas Eve.

Tony and his second wife, Melinda Kendall, joined a cult and vanished with little Kyoko, and it would be 24 years before Yoko saw her daughter again. She wrote "Don't Worry, Kyoko " in tribute to the search.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono at London's Heathrow airport with Kyoko in 1969 | Source: Getty Images

John Lennon and Yoko Ono at London's Heathrow airport with Kyoko in 1969 | Source: Getty Images

Kyoko Chan Cox's Parents Fought for Her in Court despite an Amicable Divorce

As a fan of Yoko's work, Tony tracked down the Japanese artist in Tokyo in 1961. The pair married and welcomed their only child, Kyoko, on August 8, 1963. Tony said Yoko "felt very strongly" about them caring for the child together, something he agreed with.

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The couple collaborated as "conceptual artists" upon relocating to London. They were divorced within three years of Yoko meeting John Lennon at her art show in 1966.

Relations remained amicable between the exes, with Yoko and John giving Tony access to film a documentary about their life. Per a news report, neither parent had sole custody, yet Tony was reluctant to grant Yoko and John visitation.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono visiting her daughter Kyoko in Copenhagen in 1969 | Source: Getty Images

John Lennon and Yoko Ono visiting her daughter Kyoko in Copenhagen in 1969 | Source: Getty Images

Yoko and John searched for the child through Europe and finally decided to sue for custody in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Yoko and Tony's divorce had been filed. The Lennons won custody but discovered that Tony had set up residency in Houston, Texas, where he was countersuing them.

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Yoko wrote an open letter.

The battle for Kyoko started all over again, but when Tony saw that the Lennons were on the verge of winning the case after they agreed to the Judge's stipulation that they raise Kyoko in America, he fled with the eight-year-old on Christmas Eve, 1971.

Kyoko Chan Cox's Father Was so Afraid to Lose Her That They Vanished for Years

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Tony later revealed that he and Kyoko had sought refuge with a friend who belonged to the Church of the Living Word, a pseudo-Christian cult known as The Walk. Tony, his wife Melinda, and his young daughter lived with the cult in rural Iowa, and he converted.

Kyoko was enrolled at the Walter Reed Junior High School in North Hollywood, California, under the pseudonym Ruth Holman. Tony claims that after the church got wind of him thinking of leaving, they escorted Kyoko to school daily.

According to the filmmaker, whose second wife had divorced him and remarried someone else in the cult, he collected Kyoko from school, and they escaped with nothing but the clothes on their backs. He would make a documentary of the cult, "Vain Glory," crediting his child as an associate producer.

Kyoko Ono Cox and her mother Yoko Ono leave a restaurant March 20, 2004, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

Kyoko Ono Cox and her mother Yoko Ono leave a restaurant March 20, 2004, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

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Kyoko Chan Cox Managed to Rebuild the Relationship with Her Mother in Later Years

When John Lennon was murdered in 1980, Yoko received a telegram expressing condolences on her husband's death, signed by Kyoko and Tony. With her daughter's reemergence in the late '80s, Yoko wrote an open letter saying how much she missed her.

Out of respect for her privacy and agency, the artist promised her daughter not to search for her but kept the line of communication open for when she was ready.

Kyoko Chan Cox during leaving Da Silvano Restaurant on July 29, 2006 in West Village, New York City, New York. | Source: Getty Images

Kyoko Chan Cox during leaving Da Silvano Restaurant on July 29, 2006 in West Village, New York City, New York. | Source: Getty Images

Mother and daughter reunited over Christmas time in person in 1995. The artist told a tabloid they were talking on the phone earlier that year. "She's here all the time, and they have a very nice relationship," Yoko's spokesperson said.

Though she lives out of the limelight, Kyoko has appeared in various documentaries, most recently "The Real Yoko Ono" in 2001. She was at her mom's 87th birthday party in February 2020, organized by her half-brother Sean Lennon.

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