Known by his stage-name The Amazing Criswell, he was famous for his wildly inaccurate predictions.
Criswell, was born Jeron Charles Criswell King, on Sunday, August 18th, 1907, in Princeton, Indiana.
Criswell went to high school, and did some newspaper work for the local paper; later he attended the University of Cincinnati, studying at the Conservatory of Music. Criswell returned to newspaper work, and made more and more predictions, having his forecasts printed in more and more papers. Over the years, an ever-increasing number of people followed his syndicated columns.
Criswell married an eccentric former speak-easy dancer, named Halo Meadows (she appeared on an episode of "You Bet Your Life" with Groucho Marx). His wife spent a great deal of time sunbathing; she also had a poodle named "Buttercup" which she was convinced was the reincarnation of her cousin Thomas.
Criswell was longtime friends with actress Mae West, once predicting her impending rise to the position of President of the United States, whereupon she, Criswell and George Liberace, the brother of showman Liberace, would ride a rocket to the moon. West used Criswell as her personal psychic, as well as lavishing him with gifts of home-cooked food, dropped off via chauffeur. Additionally, West was known to sell Criswell her old luxury cars for $5. For her 1955 album The Fabulous Mae West, she recorded a song about the psychic, titled, appropriately enough, "Criswell Predicts."
Criswell was a flamboyant figure, best remembered for his spit-curled hair, his stentorian speaking style, and his sequined tuxedo. He was the possessor of a coffin, in which he claimed to sleep.
87% of Criswell's predictions have come true! (The ones he reminds you of.)
Whereas it is true Criswell made the amazing forecast (on the Jack Paar TV special, March 10, 1963): "I predict that President Kennedy will not run for reelection in 1964, because of something that will happen to him in November 1963" -- Criswell also predicted... the destruction of Denver, shifting polar caps, Castro's assassination, and the End of the World.
As Criswell's fame grew, he appeared a number of times on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show"; on December 31, 1965, Criswell predicted that Ronald Reagan would be California's next Governor.
Criswell's predictions were nationally syndicated. Additionally, the psychic appeared on the television show Criswell Predicts on KCOP Channel 13 in Los Angeles, as well as being kinescoped for syndication on other television stations. Criswell's announcer, Bob Shields, would eventually be the announcer on Divorce Court. Criswell was notorious for wearing his heavy pancake makeup outside the studio.
was almost 50 when he associated with Ed Wood, however this did not
(as some believe) do much to further his reputation. Criswell played
"Himself" in Ed's movie "Plan 9 from Outer Space" providing
predictions at the beginning and end of the movie and narration; however, even
though the movie was filmed in 1956, it wasn't released until 1958.
His next venture with Ed Wood fared even worse; even though Criswell
had a bigger part in "Night of the Ghouls" (1959), Ed Wood was so
broke he couldn't pay the lab to develop his film-- it wasn't until
1983 (after both Criswell and Ed were dead) that entrepreneur Wade
Williams paid a 24-year-old lab bill, and the movie was finally
released. Criswell's 3rd movie with Ed Wood, "Orgy of the Dead" (1965),
saw Criswell play the "Emperor of the Dead". This movie provided Criswell with the most screen time, and the film was
In 1968, Criswell wrote his first book: "Criswell Predicts: From Now To The Year 2000!"; this book was Criswell's "Journal of the Future". It contained hundreds of predictions covering the next 30 years. Readers were asked to "keep score" on the accuracy of his predictions-- until, as Criswell predicted, August 1999, "after which it will not matter." Click here to see some of his predictions from this book.
His second book "Criswell Predicts Your Next Ten Years!" was released in 1969. "Why should you feel lonely when you have a trillion counterparts?" Criswell admonishes the reader in his foreword to Your Next Ten Years. "Do the other trillion feel as lonely as you? Are you fair to them?" This work is a combination of fashion tips, financial forecasts, amazing labor-saving devices, spicy gossip and gloomy tales of impending social collapse.
In 1972 Criswell released his 3rd and final book "Criswell's Forbidden Predictions: Based on Nostradamus and the Tarot".
Around 1970 Criswell released "The Legendary Criswell Predicts! Your Incredible Future" from Horoscope records. This rare vinyl record album contained many scarifying predictions. Including:
"I predict the day of severity in dress will soon be at hand, almost Puritanical in style, with no beads, no jangles, no bracelets. Men and women will wear exactly the same makeup, the same style of hair dress, and, if required, the same type of wig. I was not allowed to say on television, radio, or have it appear in my column, as the advertisers would clomp down on me, and clomp very heavily."
He was portrayed by actor Jeffrey Jones in the biopic Ed Wood (1994), in which it is suggested that Criswell was simply a showman and never claimed to be a real psychic. However, those who knew him, such as actress and fellow Plan 9 alumna Maila Nurmi ("Vampira"), have disputed this. Also, according to writer Charles A. Coulombe, whose family rented an apartment from the psychic, Criswell told Coulombe's father "[I] had the gift, but … lost it when I started taking money for it."
Whereas the End of the World did not
occur in 1999 as he had predicted, Criswell left our world at age 75 on
Monday, October 4, 1982. He had no known survivors besides his
estranged wife Halo Meadows. He was cremated October 7th, and
interred at Pierce Brothers Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood,
in the Niches of Remembrance, F-10, Space 2. Click here to
view his death certificate.
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