Myra Kingsley: Astrologer to the Stars!

 
 '30s New York advertisement  

'30s New York advertisement  

 

I decided to do some research into Myra Kingsley (born Almira 10/1/1897), daughter of Mary Kingsley (who had our house built at the age of 57). To remind you - our house was a 1 bedroom 2 bath 2 story house built in 1927-8. The house had a dinging nook and bedroom added in 1939 and in 1941 a Dr. Lamb is listed as living there so I think the house was sold by then. Mary and Myra were listed as living together in 1940 so I think Myra was taking care of Mary and Mary died shortly after the census was taken.

The family was originally based on the East Coast. Mary, the mother, took the family to L.A. after she separated from William Morgan Kingsley between '15-18. I don't know how Mary was connected to L.A. or the West Coast in general but it seems she wanted to get far away from her ex-husband. This separation seems right around the time that Mary took Myra to the professional astrologer Evangeline Adams. William was a devout Christian and did not approve of astrology so maybe this is why they separated. Who knows.

Back to Evangeline Adams... In 1914-15, Mary took Myra, age 18, to a meeting with the first "Celebrity Astrologer" Evangeline Adams where she told Myra that she was gifted in music, which she had been pursuing, but Evangeline predicted Myra would be a gifted astrologer. Myra's mother Mary had been interested in Astrology and in an article Myra describes reading the astrological and other mystical or magical books her mom had lying around the house. Mary was apparently a Theosophist, which is a belief system based on "a collection of mystical and occultist philosophies" (Wikipedia). Myra continued to pursue music for around another decade. 1916-20 she went to what is not called Julliard in New York. In '21 she married George Houston (who she divorced in 1927).

Myra says she went to San Francisco [Bay Area] to be with her mother and to study astrology (around 1925). It seems these two had a special bond since both in 1925 and 1940 Myra came to the Bay Area to be with Mary.

Mary suggested that Myra train as an astrologer under Milton P. Ropp in San Francisco (for 5 months) - who also had a bookstore in S.F. (that I presume to be of the mystical variety). By 1925 she was a professional astrologer. At this point, I am guessing she was staying with her mom in a large house on 135 Tunnel Rd. in Berkeley - Mary is listed as living there in 1924. I assume that Mary lived in 135 Tunnel Rd. until she moved into the house she was having built. That house, our house, was completed in early 1928.

1940 Census, and '39 additions

The music room, added to Mary's 1 bedroom house in 1939, seems to have originally been a bedroom for Myra Kingsley, who was 41 at the time. Why would you add a room for your successful 41 year old daughter? We believe it was because Mary was ill and dying. We believe the room was built for Myra because she is listed as living there with her mother in the 1940 Census. I assume that Mary had given up the much bigger rental 135 Tunnel Rd. when her house was finished but now she didn't have a room for Myra. Our house was originally a 1 bedroom with 4 rooms - living room, kitchen, downstairs bath, and master bedroom suite upstairs. In 1939 Mary Kingsley tacked on a small breakfast room (erker) to the front of the house and a bedroom with a skylight to the side. The design of the additions didn't go out of their way to blend in, even though they were built by the original builder. Both rooms had vertical 1x10 redwood panel siding and interior walls covered with pecky cedar - a material that was heavily used at the Maybeck-designed Aikin house in 1940-1. The original house is stucco outside and plaster on the inside. I believe the additions are consistent with other additions that Maybeck did to houses - where his additions fit in with his latest style - but the level of detail is definitely less than the original house and they may have been based off of only a sketch and no site visits (he was now 77).

It was at this point that the master bath needed to be rearrange to make a hallway between the bedrooms. This creates a loop in the floorplan that accentuates the original loop of the floor plan. The reoccurring loops in the floor plan are very disorienting and may have had something to do with the affinity of Mary and Myra to the cycles of astrology over the linearity of time. The typical floor plan is a linear branching floor plan which gives the feeling of progressing from point A to point B along a timeline an along the physical linear path of a hallway. It sounds crazy to speculate about this, but our floorplan is very unusual for the time and Maybeck, Mary, and Myra had pretty wild ideas about these things. I certainly wouldn't put it past Maybeck to come up with a circular floor plan for astrology people.

Myra Kingsley: Astrologer to the Stars

Later on, Myra seems to have become the "top" famous astrologer in the U.S. for about 10-20 years. In the "This is New York" column from the Oakland Tribune in 1934, writer Lucius Beebe describes it actually like Myra is inheriting the throne from Evangeline who died in 1932. "The successor to Evangeline Adams as New York's court astrologer is Myra Kingsley, and the great world accepts her in this high office."

Her prominence was noted in many magazines, especially LIFE which proclaimed her "No. 1 astrologer of the U.S." in 1939 and photographed her giving readings to top movie stars of the time.

 Her "peak" seems to be a several page article in a 1939 LIFE magazine where she's shown giving readings at a Hollywood astrology party. 

Her "peak" seems to be a several page article in a 1939 LIFE magazine where she's shown giving readings at a Hollywood astrology party. 

 1937 bio

1937 bio

 1937 bio

1937 bio

In 1946, LIFE again writes about her but this time says she's the "Most publicized" while a different person is now "Hollywood's favorite". Her career continued into the '50s - she came out with a book in '51 and she was still written about in the '50s, but it seems her peak in term of being the fashionable celebrity astrologer was 1939. It seems odd that she would move back in with her mom at the peak of her career but it makes sense when you realize that she died between mid 1940 and mid 1941.

 In 1951 she published a book about astrology and was able to remain "relevant" in the eyes of popular media into the '50s

In 1951 she published a book about astrology and was able to remain "relevant" in the eyes of popular media into the '50s

May of '41 has a permit listed for Dr. Lamb for the back 2 bedroom 1 bath addition - I think the presumed new owner wanted to add rooms for his children.

Myra died at the age of 99 in Florida.

A great summary about Myra comes from a a blog called "From an Oblique Angle." The post is located at http://www.joshuablubuhs.com/blog/three-minor-forteans-myra-kingsley-michael-blankfort-and-e-l-brancato