Jacqueline Bigar, 72, an astrologist whose syndicated column, “Bigar’s Stars,” has been published for decades in The Inquirer and other newspapers across the nation, died Sunday, March 1, at her home in Glendale, Ariz.
Determination of the cause and manner of her death are pending, the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office said. Ms. Bigar’s former husband, Thomas E. Livingston, said sheriff’s deputies were called to her home and found her unresponsive.
First published in the Daily News in 1977, Ms. Bigar’s column over the years drew a national and then an international audience. In it, the then-Philadelphia-based writer offered readers a view of the future based on their birth dates and the position of the stars.
“Readers flocked to it,” recalled Gene Castellano, a former assistant features editor for the Daily News.
Castellano worked on Sundays, and said the column would arrive that day for editing even though it wouldn’t be published until later in the week. It was so compelling that fellow journalists would call from home, Castellano said, asking him to look ahead and let them know what was in the stars for their love life.
Ms. Bigar’s column began appearing in The Inquirer in 1988. King Features Syndicate acquired the rights to the column in 1991, and it was published in newspapers including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Denver Post, Kansas City Star, Los Angeles Daily News, and San Francisco Examiner.
In 1995, Ms. Bigar helped to develop and moderate, with her former husband, an online astrology forum for Prodigy.com. She also wrote daily astrology tips and conducted chat sessions online.
“She will be missed,” said C.J. Kettler, King Features president. “She has been part of the King Features family for a long time. We are shocked. She was beloved.”
The last of her columns, written in advance, will appear in The Inquirer on Saturday, March 14.
Ms. Bigar, an Aquarius, began formal astrology training in 1975 under the guidance of Jeanette Oswald, a professional astrologer and radio and television personality. Except for that tutelage, Ms. Bigar was largely self-taught.
Her son, Geoffrey Livingston, posted the news of his mother’s passing on Facebook.
“Once we get control of her Facebook page, we will turn it into a memorial site for her readers across the globe,” he wrote Monday. He said the family was seeking privacy as it mourned and sought to make burial arrangements. “We will post something as soon as we can. However, we may not be responsive in the interim,” he wrote. "May the stars be with you.”
Born in Washington, she graduated in 1965 from the Orme School in Mayer, Ariz. Four years later, she graduated from Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., with a bachelor’s degree in literature.
In 1966, she met Livingston, a student at the nearby Claremont McKenna College, through the student newspaper, the Collegian. “She was always interested in astrology when I met her in college,” he said. “It was hard to tell if this was her hobby.”
They married in 1970 in Pasadena, Calif., and moved in 1975 to Philadelphia, when Livingston took a job at the Daily News.
In predicting the 23-day duration of a Philadelphia newspaper strike in 1977, she so amazed Daily News editor F. Gilman Spencer that he hired her on the spot to write a weekly horoscope column. In 1982, she began writing her daily column, “Bigar’s Stars.”
“Gil was impressed,” Livingston said. “He was a whimsical guy, and he made Jackie the astrology columnist, to my horror. I didn’t think she could do it.”
Ms. Bigar studied astrology books and honed her skill, Livingston said. While preparing an astrological profile for the reputed mobster Philip “Chicken Man" Testa, she predicted that there would be a “big blowup” in the family in March 1981. “A few days later,” Livingston said, Testa "was blown up by a bomb.”
The “Love and the Stars” column, published in The Inquirer’s Do This section, typically offered readers at times cryptic guidance on romance and interactions, usually just in a few lines. On Friday, for instance, Ms. Bigar predicted a five-star night for those born under the Libra sign.
“One on one relating could take you down an unusual path,” she wrote. “At first you might not feel comfortable with what is happening. The unexpected occurs when dealing with an important person. Tonight: Walk away from a power play.”
But each column also offered an extended dash of advice for those born on that date. For readers born on Feb. 28, she wrote: “This year, your intuition greets your stability. The combination proves to be powerful when applied together. If single, you might reveal these traits as you reveal different personalities and different segments of your life.…”
Livingston described Ms. Bigar as quirky and fun, a lover of music and good times. The couple divorced in 1986. Ms. Bigar moved to Arizona in 2011.
In addition to her son and former husband, she is survived by a daughter, Joanne Marder; two grandchildren; and a brother.