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Joyce Jillson, 58; Astrologer Who Said She Advised Reagans

October 06, 2004|Myrna Oliver | Times Staff Writer

Joyce Jillson, the syndicated astrologer who once said she provided horoscopes for President Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan, has died. She was 58.

Jillson died Friday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center of complications from kidney disease, her former husband, Joseph Gallagher, said Tuesday.

As an actress, she appeared on Broadway in "The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd" and on television's racy "Peyton Place." Jillson later styled herself as the "Hollywood Astrologer," saying she decided such show business milestones as advising George Lucas to open his genre-launching "Star Wars" on May 27, 1977.

Her syndicated astrology column appears in about 200 newspapers, including The Times.

Jillson earned worldwide publicity in May 1988 when she said that the Reagans regularly consulted astrologers and said she visited the White House after the assassination attempt on the president in 1981. She also said she made charts that determined George Bush was the best choice for Reagan's running mate in 1980.

At the time, the first lady's spokeswoman acknowledged that Nancy Reagan often consulted "a friend that does astrology" in Los Angeles to seek reassurance of her husband's safety. But the White House denied that the president and his wife consulted or even knew Jillson. Then-White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater dismissed her as a publicity seeker.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday October 08, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 28 words Type of Material: Correction
"Star Wars" opening -- The obituary of astrologer Joyce Jillson in Wednesday's California section said the movie "Star Wars" opened May 27, 1977. It opened May 25, 1977.

Jillson claimed among her corporate clients 20th Century Fox, Ford Motor Co. and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Her astrology column has appeared in The Times since the death of horoscope icon Sydney Omarr in January 2003. The feature originally was syndicated by the Chicago Tribune -- which, like The Times, is owned by Tribune Co. -- but it is currently handled by Creators Syndicate.

Jillson was born in Cranston, R.I., and began studying astrology at age 8, advising classmates on such adolescent quandaries as whether they should become cheerleaders. She attended Boston University on an opera scholarship and in the 1960s enjoyed a modest acting career in New York and Los Angeles.

In addition to "Peyton Place," she landed guest roles in such series as "Columbo," "Lou Grant" and "Police Woman." But her real forte proved to be television talk shows, and she appeared frequently on "Good Morning America," "Live With Regis and Kathie Lee," "The Tonight Show" and "The Merv Griffin Show." She also discussed astrology on her own syndicated "The Joyce Jillson Show."

Jillson said the subjects she was most often asked to chart were "love and money" -- when or if a woman would marry, when a company should launch an initial public offering of stock or fire a chief executive.

She published several books, including "Joyce Jillson's Lifesigns," "Real Women Don't Pump Gas" and "The Fine Art of Flirting." Gallagher said Jillson had also completed two books that have not yet been published: "Dog Astrology" and "Astrology for Cats."

Jillson is survived by her mother, Beatrice H. Twitchell.

Funeral services will be private. A public memorial service is pending.

The family has asked that, instead of flowers, memorial donations be sent to the Acute Renal Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, 8700 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048.

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