LOS ANGELES – As the official astrologer for 20th Century Fox Studios (search), Joyce Jillson (search) consulted on the best opening days for movies, including 1977's "Star Wars" — the second-highest grossing movie of all time.
Jillson, author of a nationally syndicated astrology (search) column who also divined the stars on behalf of the Reagan administration, died Friday at Cedars Sinai Medical Center of kidney failure, said her former husband, Joseph Gallagher. She was 58.
Her daily astrology column has appeared in nearly 200 newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News.
In 1988, Jillson was linked to the Reagan White House after former chief of staff Donald T. Regan wrote in a book that Nancy Reagan consulted astrologers.
Jillson contended she advised Reagan campaign aides to select George H.W. Bush as Reagan's running mate in 1980. Jillson also said she "spent a lot of time" at the White House after the March 1981 assassination attempt on the president.
Born and raised in Cranston, R.I., Jillson attended Boston University on an opera scholarship and later moved to New York to begin a stage career. She won an award as outstanding Broadway newcomer and then moved to Los Angeles to pursue a TV career.
Jillson starred as "Jill Smith" in the 1960s television series "Peyton Place."
She married Gallagher in 1969 and they divorced in 1981.
"She radiated strength and optimism," Gallagher said Tuesday. "All the doctors with whom she dealt with during this very painful illness said she was the bravest, strongest, most optimistic patient they've ever had."
Jillson was a Capricorn, but she regarded herself as a Libra since most of her astrological planets were aligned with that sign, Gallagher said.
"She had a complex and very intellectual approach to astrology," he said.
Holiday Mathis, who had been Jillson's apprentice and editor since 1991, had been co-writing the astrology column the past few months, Creators Syndicate said in a statement.
Jillson and Mathis wrote in advance and the columns they prepared will run through Nov. 6. Starting Nov. 7, the horoscopes will be renamed "Horoscopes by Holiday," but their format will remain the same.
"She took something that was somewhat stodgy and made it full of life — just as she was," said Richard S. Newcombe, president of Creators Syndicate.
Jillson also is survived by her mother, Beatrice H. Twitchell.