Joyce Jillson

Astrologer to the Reagans

Joyce Jillson, actress and astrologer: born Cranston, Rhode Island 26 December 1946; married 1969 Joseph Gallagher (marriage dissolved 1981); died Los Angeles 1 October 2004.

Joyce Jillson was an actress of no small talent, who won a Broadway award as leading lady opposite Anthony Newley in the hit 1960s show The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd. She then starred as Jill Smith in the blockbuster television soap Peyton Place. But her impact on 20th-century America might be far greater. If Jillson is to be believed, she was the astrologer who in 1980 advised Ronald Reagan's team to pick George H.W. Bush as his running mate in the presidential election that year. The rest, as they say, is history.

Jillson started in astrology at the tender age of eight, as child assistant to the well-known Boston astrologer Maude Williams. For a while those gifts were overshadowed by her acting career, but by the mid-1970s she had re-invented herself as an astrologer celebrity who was the talk of Los Angeles.

As official astrologer of 20th Century-Fox, she advised the studio on the most suitable opening day in 1977 for the first "Star Wars" film - with evident success, given that Star Wars went on to become the second biggest-grossing movie of all time. Her business clients included AT&T and ITT, Ford and the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team. But she was most famous - or infamous - for her Reagan connection.

Jillson's exact place in the firmament of Ron and Nancy's occult advisers is unclear. The former First Lady's obsession with astrology was first revealed in For the Record, the 1988 tell-all autobiography by Donald Regan, the White House chief of staff who was sacked on her orders. Regan wrote of her consultations with a "friend in San Francisco" - believed to be the astrologer Joan Quigley. The White House dismissed the story. But it emerged that the First Lady had contact not only with Quigley but also others of her trade including Carroll Righter, Jeane Dixon (who was said to have predicted the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963) and Jillson herself.

Her precise contribution to White House decision-making is a matter of dispute. She claimed to have spent "a lot of time" in Washington after the 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan. The President's spokesmen dismissed the claims, but Jillson's husband, Joseph Gallagher, replied simply, "Just look at the White House logs."

Unarguably however, the collective impact of the various astrologers was considerable. As Regan, a former Merrill Lynch chairman, put it,

The frustration of dealing with a situation in which the schedule of the President of the United States was determined by occult prognostications was very great - far greater than any other I had known in nearly 45 years of working life.

But Regan's problems were nothing but good news for Jillson. The media flocked to her door. She wrote books (Real Women Don't Pump Gas, 1982; The Fine Art of Flirting, 1984). By the end of her life her daily horoscope column, syndicated in 230 papers in the US and 84 abroad, was read by 40 million people.

Rupert Cornwell

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power