By Edward Snow
Managing Editor, Astrology News Service
“Astrology,” says the man who has spent more time in front of live television talk show audiences than anyone else on the planet, “isn’t for sissies.”
In his book, How I Got This Way, Regis Philbin, an inveterate story-teller and master of “spontaneous conversation,” describes a series of on-air meetings with the “remarkable” astrologer Sydney Omarr (his adjective).
Early in a broadcast career that spanned more than five decades, Philbin, who holds the Guinness World Record for most time spent in front of a television camera, was feeling incredibly blessed. With only a low-budget, live TV talk show in a secondary market (San Diego) to recommend him, he was asked to take over Steve Allen’s nationally syndicated TV talk show, which was filmed in Hollywood at the time.
The first guest he booked on The Regis Philbin Show was Omarr, whose syndicated horoscope column was a staple in newspapers from coast to coast. The astrologer was asked to predict how successful the new show would be.
“I thought this would be a daring and different way to start a new TV show,” Philbin said.
It was October 1964. Omarr showed up and solemnly delivered the bad news.
“Sydney fixed a haunted gaze on me and said there’s a fight going on right now behind the scenes as to what direction the show should go. He told me the show will fail. You won’t make it,” Philbin recounted.
In private after the show, Omarr told Philbin he was heading into the worst period of his life. “The earth will literally move under your feet,” he warned.
Philbin worried about the dire forecast, but was pleasantly surprised when his show was renewed after 13 weeks. So, he invited Omarr back on the program to see if he had any second thoughts about the matter.
The astrologer was even more insistent. He told his host the show would be off the air within 48 hours, and it was canceled 36 hours later.
The next few years for Philbin were as personally and professionally challenging, as the astrologer had predicted they would be. Even the part about the earth moving under his feet.
Philbin owned a house on a hillside overlooking Universal City. At one point in 1968, it rained heavily for two straight weeks. On one of those rainy days, half of his back yard slid into the canyon.
“City officials ordered the house evacuated. When I couldn’t pay the bills to shore up the property, I lost the house entirely,” he said.
Philbin had managed to land on his professional feet with a three-year stint as sidekick to Joey Bishop on the Joey Bishop Show. When this show was winding down after a disappointingly short run in 1969, he invited Omarr back to predict how things would go forward career-wise for Bishop and himself.
The outlook for Bishop was not especially upbeat. But the astrologer predicted Philbin was destined to become “a household name in America,” and said he would have “great success.”
When pressed for a timetable, Omarr said it wasn’t going to happen right away. It would take another 20 years.
Philbin says Omarr made this prediction in Decenber 1969. In September of 1988, his New York morning talk show, Live with Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford, was syndicated nationally, and “we were well on our way to making that prediction come true,” he said.
After 28-plus years, Philbin has moved on from his morning show but is actively doing concerts, television appearances, book signings, lectures and the like.
Each chapter in Philbin’s book remembers a different celebrity guest and closes with a “What I Took Away From it All” summary of the experience. He closed the chapter devoted to his interviews with Omarr in this way:
“Astrology isn’t for sissies. Those stars do seem to know things we don’t — and maybe never should.
“Great things can happen much later than you might have hoped. But even then, great things are still great — and always worth appreciating — so don’t give up.”
Edward Snow is managing editor of the Astrology News Service (ANS) in Arlington Heights, Ill.
From the May 9-15, 2012, issue