Kenny KingstonAt this point it’s surprising that any of my mother and father’s contemporaries are left. Kenny Kingston, who my mom hung out with at some point in the late ’60s or early ’70s, was a little younger than her; he died Monday at 87. My mom had a thing for psychics, gurus and other vaguely supernatural trappings. She threw Iching coins, played the Ouija board, conducted seances and read palms, as well as preparing astrological charts for her friends. game

She even roped me in with Kreskin’s ESP game, on which I did about as well as Kenny. I’m not sure how she met Kenny or if they ever really dated — she never had a real longterm boyfriend after she divorced my father and his Los Angeles Times obituary says he met his partner in 1970. Maybe there’s a story there, but I guess it’s too late to find out. Maybe they met on the Merv Griffin show; MJ appeared on the show to talk about her book “How to Tell if Your Husband is Cheating on You” while Kenny was a frequent guest. But as the L.A. Times points out, he wasn’t a particularly gifted psychic:

The predictions were often no better than those in an office pool. For example, in 1994 Kingston said he had it on good authority from the likes of Greta Garbo, Gloria Swanson and James Dean that the acting winners would include Holly Hunter and Tommy Lee Jones. Those picks turned out to be correct, but the dead stars also wrongly picked Liam Neeson and Emma Thompson. The always genial Kingston, known for his oversized tinted glasses and ample mop of blond hair, blamed misfires on the dead stars, saying that they rigged it by choosing the people they wanted to win.

No matter, in Hollywood and especially in those days before Snopes.com and an internet full of paraprofessional fact-checkers, it was more about the presentation and bonhomie than the actual clairvoyant powers. We used to listen to him on the radio, and my mom was always happy to hear him and his tagline, “Sweet spirits!” Here’s to Kenny and the Jewish American Indian guru White Eagle Schwartz and the rest of MJ’s colorful cast of friends.

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