So Long, Psychic Friend

THE BALTIMORE SUN

What will we do without her? What with the millennium approaching, the Clinton administration ever-perched on the edge of scandal, Michael Jackson expecting his first child, Bob Dole launching a new career as credit card pitchman, frosts in the South, floods in the West -- what will we do without Jeane Dixon?

She's gone. Perhaps you heard. Or sensed. The famous astrologer, the woman who had the world at her feet after predicting the assassination of John F. Kennedy (I tried to warn him -- don't, don't go to Dallas ...) died Saturday at a Washington hospital at the age of 79. She wrote an astrology column that was read by millions, she advised Nancy and Ronald Reagan, she wrote seven books, she told us how it would be.

Now we're on our own, facing an uncertain future. Now we have only her last predictions, the final forecasts for 1997 that she delivered before she abandoned the physical realm. One last time we can ask, for example: Whither Alec Baldwin?

Alec Baldwin is threatened by a killer disease when he finds himself in one unhealthy part of the globe after another, especially in early February.

She was a pioneer. Long before the Psychic Friends Network put clairvoyant at the other end of every telephone, before Ricki Lake and Geraldo and Sally and Jenny, decades before popular media culture assumed all the substance of a carnival sideshow including the fortune teller's booth, Dixon parted a bead curtain and declared: I am a psychic.

"She was sort of the maverick of the century in terms of psychic astrology," says Linda Georgian, famed seer of the Psychic Friends Network. "When she started it was in the closet. ... She led the way. That was a big breakthrough for America."

Georgian -- recently rated one of the Five Most Famous Psychics in America -- is reached at her home in Vero Beach, Fla. She has heard about Dixon's passing.

"Was it her heart?" she asks.

It was. Cardiopulmonary arrest, to be exact.

"I sensed that psychically," says Georgian.

No extra charge for the reading, we trust.

Georgian cannot definitively answer a mystical question: Where do we go from here? How do we face the future without Dixon, who has been credited with predicting the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Mahatma Gandhi, Harry Truman's election in 1948, Ronald Reagan's future as a president and the Communist takeover of China. How will we know what becomes of Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow? Whither Dick Morris? And what further developments may we expect in fish husbandry?

Electronic signals will herd schools of fish as if they were sheep.

This modern-age Nostradamus was born Jeane L. Pinckert in a (( small town in Wisconsin in 1918. She was no taller than a fortune teller's table when her gift began to surface. The story goes that as a toddler she asked her mother for a letter bordered in black. Days later just such a letter arrived, announcing the death of a grandfather in Germany.

Later her father tried to surprise her with a gift of a black and white puppy. The child saw it coming and called it, color and all.

The child's talents were compelling enough that her mother took her to see a gypsy woman. The woman read her palms. On little Jeane's left hand she found lines forming a star of David. Lines on the right formed a star with points radiating in all directions. Palmists say these are sure signs of an authentic mystic.

Dixon herself never read palms, tea leaves, bumps on the head. She never told fortunes in the back room of a Hungarian restaurant. She did readings for family friends as a child and continued when she moved to Washington with her husband during World War II, finding among her clients diplomats, legislators. She claimed to have been invited twice to the White House for private consultations with Franklin D. Roosevelt.

She was the last of an era of big-deal all-purpose astrologer/seers, says Paulette Cooper, co-editor of "The 100 Top Psychics in America," published last year. Now it's all specialization, says Cooper. There are love psychics and business psychics, career psychics and even a "car psychic," a guy in Colorado who looks for clues about people's lives in the cars they drive.

Dixon didn't bother with that sort of thing.

"I think she was a true psychic," says Irene Hughes of Chicago, another of the Most Famous Five.

Sometimes her predictions even came true. Often not. By all accounts nobody's calculated her psychic batting average since the New York Post rated her a .600 hitter. But that was 1965. Since then she predicted in July 1974 that President Richard M. Nixon would outlast the "Watergate manipulators" and remain in office. He resigned a month later. She called a stock market retreat in 1996 and predicted George Bush would defeat Bill Clinton in 1992.

Skeptics have wondered over the years if perhaps her second sight has been clouded by a right-wing political bias. During the Cold War, she tended to blame many of this country's problems on the Soviet Union.

No matter. She apparently helped usher in a wider public acceptance of paranormal practices, a phenomenon pushed along by the explosion of 900-number psychics and cable television.

nTC That's a development that "should concern us all," says Chip Denman of the National Capital Area Skeptics in suburban Washington. "All of us who are concerned about making good decisions based on good evidence."

Jonathan Kandell, a psychologist and director of the counseling center at the University of Maryland College Park, agrees. He's not recommending psychics to his clients, but he says at times they can provide some comfort.

"There are many people who find it hard to deal with ambiguity," he says. "Life many times is ambiguous and they look for answers wherever they can."

Now whom do we ask: Whither "Friends" star Matt LeBlanc?

The march of planets spells disaster for Matt LeBlanc in the weeks ahead when he's treated badly by women. Strangely enough, Matt could be in real trouble when his luck changes in the spring.

Her last predictions, that's all we have now. Or so it seems. She told an interviewer in 1984 that she did not fear death. She'd been through it before. When she met Gen. George S. Patton, for example, she discovered they had both lived in ancient Carthage.

"It was wonderful there," she said.

Hits and misses in the storied psychic career of Jeane Dixon.

Hits:

Told Parade magazine in 1956 that a Democratic president elected in 1960 -- a tall young man with thick, dark hair and blue eyes -- would die in office. Seven years later John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

At a Kentucky Fried Chicken convention in Miami in January 1968 predicted that Sen. Robert F. Kennedy would be assassinated that June.

In March 1968, predicted that George Wallace's third-party bid for the presidency would be influenced by "situations beyond his control." That May, he suspended his campaign for a month when his wife died. Also claimed to have predicted in April 1972 that Wallace would be the target of an assassination attempt. The next month Wallace was shot and seriously wounded while campaigning in Laurel.

Predicted publicly in mid-March 1968 "some startling moves by the incumbent administration before July." Two weeks later President Lyndon B. Johnson announced he would not seek re-election.

Published predictions in January 1996 included a "stormy" future for Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown. Brown was later arrested in Atlanta with another woman in his car.

Misses:

World War III would erupt in 1958 over the Chinese islands of Quemoy and Matsu.

The Soviet Union would be first to land a man on the moon.

Predicted in July 1974 that President Richard M. Nixon "will continue to occupy the White House ... will be plagued by Watergate manipulators until November, 1975." Nixon resigned from office in August 1974.

A cure for cancer would be discovered in 1978.

In 1975, predicted that "the guitar, the most popular instrument for 20 years and a great influence in shaping modern music, will be replaced by the violin."

Pub Date: 1/28/97

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