30 years on, Ono meets daughter

The Advertiser/January 8, 2001
By Sharon Churcher

Bundled up against the freezing New York winter, a pretty little girl with mischievous eyes and pink butterfly hairslides sits happily on her grandmother's knee, her mother by her side.

This was the scene as Yoko Ono, John Lennon's widow, met for the first time her granddaughter Emi, 3. Until recently her mother, Ono's daughter Kyoko Cox, 37, had kept the child away from Ono because of an extraordinary 30-year feud.

They were seen in Strawberry Fields, the memorial garden to the murdered former Beatle in Central Park across the road from the Dakota Building where he was shot dead 20 years ago.

Ono is so delighted by the reconciliation that she has told friends and lawyers that half her vast fortune, estimated at more than $1 billion, will be settled on Emi in a trust fund, and that eventually she will share the Lennon legacy with her mother's half-brother Sean - Lennon and Ono's son.

Yet three years ago Ono, 67, did not even know that Kyoko was alive. For years, Kyoko lived in hiding after being abducted at the age of eight by her father, eccentric American film-maker Tony Cox, Ono's second husband.

He was deeply resentful when she left him for Lennon and vowed the Beatle, whom he accused of being a depraved drug addict, would never get custody of their child.

A Christian fundamentalist, Cox initiated Kyoko into bizarre Doomsday cult The Walk.

For three decades, moving from continent to continent, she evaded investigators paid by Yoko to find her.

In November, 1997, three weeks after Emi's birth, Kyoko finally re-established contact with the woman she was brought up to believe was, like Lennon, the personification of evil.

Kyoko, a charity worker, said: "I didn't feel it right for me to become a mother without at least letting my mother know that I'm alive and well." Initially, Kyoko spoke to her mother on the phone, from Denver, Colorado, where Kyoko is married to a devout Christian.

In 1998, she agreed to meet Yoko and Sean, now 25. Last week, the emotional reunion finally took place.

Kyoko was aged five when Lennon and Ono became lovers and left her in the care of Cox. Later they tried to kidnap the child while she was in Majorca with her father. After this, Cox disappeared with Kyoko.

A friend of Cox, David Clark, said: "Kyoko's childhood was clouded by the battle between three control freaks - Yoko, John and her natural father. Her father told her he was rescuing her because her mother was involved in drugs and the occult. Her mother stood for corruption."

Ono did not file for custody of her daughter until she was eight. In 1969, soon after marrying, Lennon and Ono launched their campaign for Kyoko's heart.

Their song, Don't Worry Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking For Her Hand In The Snow) featured Ono yodelling the words with Lennon on guitar. The fight moved to the US, where the couple formally sought custody in 1971.

Cox retaliated by testifying Ono and Lennon were drug users. A judge ruled the child should live with Lennon and Ono. But Cox had snatched Kyoko. "It is as much for Yoko's sake that Kyoko is trying to reach out and get to know her," a friend of Kyoko's said.

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