Position is everything in life, and for John Reynolds, commonly known as the “human fly,” it meant everything. From the flag pole of the Times-Herald Building in Washington D.C., Reynolds captivated audiences with his death-defying feats. His life, shrouded in mystery, was a testament to his audacious spirit and unmatched daredevilry.
Born in 1890 or 1891, little is known about Reynolds’ early life or his true identity. An acrobat and juggler by trade, he adopted various aliases throughout his career, earning him a reputation as a man of many names – Daredevil Johnny, Daredevil Jack, the Climbing Wonder, The Lizard, the Human Spider, and the Human Fly.
Reynolds’ extraordinary journey began at the tender age of six in Buffalo, where he stunned onlookers by maintaining balance on one foot atop a flagpole soaring 140 feet into the sky. This feat set the stage for his future exploits and ignited his passion for conquering gravity.
His first major stunt came at the age of 12 when he fearlessly scaled the side of the Old South Building in Boston. Perched atop four chairs and five tables on a plank extended over the building’s edge, Reynolds captivated the city with his audacity and skill. Similar performances followed in New York, where he astounded crowds by ascending the iconic Flatiron Building, and in his hometown of Philadelphia.
However, Reynolds’ daredevilry came at a price. Arrested multiple times for “unlawful assembly” after his death-defying performances, he faced legal repercussions for pushing the boundaries of human ability. Yet, despite these setbacks, Reynolds remained unwavering in his pursuit of defying gravity and capturing the public’s imagination.
A stunt performer, also known as a stuntman or daredevil, dedicates their life to executing dangerous feats, often as a profession. Reynolds epitomized this calling, mesmerizing audiences and leaving them in awe of his unmatched courage and physical prowess.
In 1924, Reynolds was immortalized in a photograph taken by the esteemed National Photo Company, further cementing his status as a legendary figure in the annals of daredevilry.
While the enigma surrounding John Reynolds persists, his daring spirit and indomitable will continue to inspire generations of thrill-seekers. Though his true identity may forever remain a mystery, his legacy as the “human fly” lives on as a testament to the incredible heights one can achieve with unwavering determination and a touch of audacity.