Sylvia Browne, the psychic whose frequent appearances on TV shows such as "Larry King Live" and with Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show," as well as frequent appearances on "The Montel Williams Show," died Wednesday at a hospital in San Jose, Calif., hospital officials confirmed Thursday to the Associated Press. She was 77.
Good Samaritan Hospital spokeswoman Leslie Kelsay told the AP Wire Service she could not disclose further details.
Browne had been ill in recent months and was forced to cancel performances around the country during a recent tour, that included the Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, Mich. originally scheduled for Sept. 27 at the Silver Creek Event Center. Her manager cited the reason "due to illness." However, that show was rescheduled for Friday, Feb. 28, 2014.
"It's always nice meeting new people. I love it," said Browne during one of her last media interviews in September, talking by telephone to my Times columnist colleague Eloise Valadez. She told Eloise that "people are often grateful to spend some time talking [with her]," and how they'd often make comments indicating she "really helped them or even saved their lives."
"It's like going home," Browne told Eloise about her fondness of bookings in the Midwest. The psychic was scheduled to make an earlier appearance in the Region in March 2011 at Star Plaza Theatre, but the event was cancelled because Browne broke her hip.
During her appearances, Browne, who credited herself as a researcher in the field of parapsychology, would lecture for an hour, do a healing meditation and take questions from the audience. Browne described her approach to Eloise about delving into the spiritual world as a very "natural" process, which wasn't done in "wacky ways."
"I think everything comes from God," she said.
During her September chat with Eloise, Browne said she was working on her latest book, titled, "Crazy Things People Have Said To Me," and she said it was be released at the end of the year.
Browne said she believed in reincarnation and could help people communicate with their dead loved ones as well as see the future. She was a regular on "The Montel Williams Show," where she fielded questions on topics ranging from marriage and careers to ghosts.
She was criticized after telling the mother of Ohio kidnapping victim Amanda Berry on the show in 2004 that her daughter was dead. Berry and two other women were later found alive after being held captive for years.
Even during her local appearances, her abilities were questioned by skeptics, including Times reader Albert Matulewicz, Whiting, who wrote to The Times in October 2012 about Browne's plans to visit Star Plaza for her appearance the next month.
"Perhaps during her lecture, Browne will use her psychic abilities and explain why, in 2003, she told the parents of Shawn Hornbeck that their son was dead and then four years later police found him alive," Matulewicz wrote.
"Maybe Browne's inner voice will enlighten us as to why Christopher Reeve of Superman fame died six months after her prediction of April 2004 that the paralyzed Reeve would have electrodes implanted in him. Perhaps her psychic guide will explain why Browne told Holly Krewson's mother in 2002 that Holly, who had been missing since 1995, was alive and working as a stripper in Hollywood when in actuality Krewson's dead body was found in 1996 and labeled as a Jane Doe. Perhaps Browne will explain why 11 years after she agreed to be tested for the JREF Million Dollar Challenge, she still refuses to follow through on her agreement. Perhaps people who are thinking of going to see her might do a little research like I did at www.StopSylvia.com. Most likely, Browne will leave Merrillville, laughing all the way to the bank."
Browne grew up in Kansas City, Mo., where her psychic abilities began to manifest themselves at the age of 3, according to an obituary on her website.
She founded two nonprofits, The Nirvana Foundation for Psychic Research and the Society of Novus Spiritus, and was the author of dozens of books, many of which appeared on the New York Times Bestsellers list, according to the obituary.
Her 2009 book, "Temples on the Other Side," was intended to help people understand where they go after they die, she told Montel Williams.
"So you just don't float around," she said. "You can go to the Hall of Messengers, where you can talk to Jesus ... You can go to the Hall of Reconnection, where you can connect with someone you love."
In a statement included in the obituary on Browne's website, Williams called her a friend. "A beacon that shined for so many was extinguished today, but its brightness was relit and will now shine forever for many of us from above," he said.
Browne is survived by her husband, Michael Ulery, two sons and a sister, according to the obituary.