Whatever Happened To The Psychic Who Predicted JFK's Assassination?

Three days after Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963, The World News — a Roanoke, Virginia newspaper — had a story headlined "Kennedy's Death Predicted." It alleged the "soothsayer" Jeane Dixon had foreseen Kennedy's murder in a May 1956 Parade Magazine article. In the piece, Dixon predicted that a Democrat would win the 1960 presidential election but would "be assassinated or die in office though not necessarily in his first term."

Dixon's fairly accurate prognostication was enough to launch her career as a nationally known psychic. She would become friendly with two U.S. presidents, write several best-selling books, have a long-running syndicated newspaper astrology column, and become a staple of the talk show circuit before her death at age 93 in 1997. After her death, her financial advisor opened a museum in Virginia dedicated to her. "I started out as a rational skeptic," the museum's curator, John Schreiner, told the Tampa Bay Times in 2002. "But some of these predictions are so frighteningly accurate that you can't just write it off as a lucky guess."

Playing politics

Jeane Dixon was born Lydia Pinckert in Medford, Wisconsin in 1904 (she later claimed she was born in 1918). She alleged she'd been gifted with psychic abilities since childhood. "I was always psychic," she said (via the Los Angeles Times). She grew up in California and in 1939 married James Dixon. The couple moved to Washington, D.C. in the 1940s, and there, they ran a real estate company. In the nation's capital, her career as a psychic took off. She became known as the "Seeress of Washington" and collected such high-profile friends and clients as Ronald and Nancy Reagen and South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond.

Nancy Reagen, who was publicly ridiculed for her reliance on psychics, later abandoned Dixon for another astrologer named Joan Quigley. Dixon met with President Richard Nixon at the White House in 1971. She would send the president national security forecasts through his secretary Rose Mary Woods. One such message, about Palestinian terrorists, had Nixon upset enough to speak about it with Henry Kissinger, his national security advisor. "Rose talks to this soothsayer, Jeane Dixon, all the time," Nixon told Kissinger (via Newsweek). "They are desperate that [the terrorists] will kidnap somebody. They may shoot somebody. We have got to have a plan." Based on this, Nixon ordered Kissinger to set up a counterterrorism committee. Dixon was also on a first-name basis with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who allowed her to use confidential material in her public speeches.

Rumors and the apocalypse

Jeanne Dixon wasn't only a favorite of the powerful inside the Beltway — she also had a popular daily syndicated astrology column. She was so well regarded that in September 1968 a mere rumor that she'd predicted there would be an explosion at the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant near Parsons, Kanas the following year had the facility's officials up in arms. She had to talk the town down via the local newspaper. "It's a complete rumor," she told The Parsons Sun. "I've never heard of Parsons, Kansas, even in my study of geography as a student. I've never got it psychically."

During her career, Dixon also penned several books, including a book about her pet cat, Mike the MagiCat, who she alleged had ESP. She also collaborated with Milton Bradley on a game — "Jeane Dixon's Game of Destiny" — and continued to stay in the public eye until her death in 1997. Her predictions, which were often wrong, became more apocalyptic as she got older. She claimed the Antichrist had been born in the Middle East in 1962 and told Americans to give up their materialistic ways before it was too late. Dixon claimed the world would end around 2020 because of a nuclear war.

Death and a museum

Jeane Dixon survived a financial scandal in the 1970s when the media reported that her charity Children for Children had spent most of its funds on salaries and promotion with little going to its cause. She died of a heart attack in 1997 and requested that her ashes be scattered on Mt. Rainier in Washington state. Her fame was such that mathematician John Paulos named a phenomenon after her — the Jeane Dixon Effect, which occurs when people focus on a few correct predictions and overlook numerous wrong ones.

Following her death, her financial advisor and friend Leo Bernstein bankrolled a museum and library dedicated to her. The attraction in Strasbourg, Virginia opened in 2002 and closed six years later when Bernstein died. The collection went up for auction the next year and included designer hats and Mike the MagiCat's rhinestone collars, among other items. "I knew this would happen," Dixon allegedly said on her deathbed (via "The Gospel of Wellness: Gyms, Gurus, Goop, and the False Promise of Self-Care").