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

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
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

Solutions Architect - Permanent - London - £70k DOE

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

General Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Great opportunities for Cover...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?