Kitty Kelley: Author of Unauthorized Biographies

Zip Dobyns

Kitty Kelley’s birth data was published in a full page article about her life by her home town newspaper, The Spokesman-Review and Spokane Chronicle on July 28, 1991. She is the author of biographies about Jackie Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, and Nancy Reagan which have sold a half million to three million copies. She is noted for her ability to “dig up dirt” about the lives of her famous subjects, to the point that her work is sometimes referred to as “kitty litter.” But despite her publication of intimate, highly unflattering, and sometimes questionable information about her targets, she is reportedly upset and vindictive in response to criticism directed against her. The Spokane newspaper article says that one reporter who wrote a negative review of the Liz Taylor biography received a box of fish heads with a note “from the friends of Kitty Kelley.” Another newspaper writer who was investigating Kelley received strange letters signed by people she could not trace. A typewriter expert hired by the newspaper identified the typewriter used for the mysterious letters as the same one used to type letters from Kelley’s office to the paper.

Kelley’s early life helps to explain her reactions and her work. She was whipped with a belt by her father, often at the demand of her mother, and was hit on the face and head by her mother in front of friends up to the age of 17 when she left home. As late as age 20 when Kitty was visiting home, her father beat her with a belt on orders from his wife. A friend saw the welts, bruises and cuts on Kitty’s back later that night. Kitty’s mother was a size 3 and was paranoid about her girls becoming fat so she kept padlocks on the refrigerator and cupboards. Friends at school used to bring extra food to share with Kitty and her sister Ellen at lunch. But the girls skipped lunch on Thursday and Friday because they were weighed by their mother every Saturday morning. Kitty’s mother died at age 60 of acute pancreatitis, a disease associated with chronic alcoholism. It is not surprising that in all four of Kitty’s biographies, the mothers of the subjects are portrayed as monstrous. We do put ourselves in our writing. Kitty’s 87 year old father refuses to talk about the family.

In spite of (or maybe partly because of) the abuse she received at home, Kitty was very popular at school, managing to win the title of “friendliest girl” four years in a row, the only time this happened in the school’s history. She was a 5’ 2” strawberry blonde who dated the most popular boy in school, was a cheer leader for the all-boys Catholic high school and belonged to the best social clubs. Her steady boy friend in school said later that he recognized that she was career-oriented and ambitious, that Spokane was too small for her. Kitty attended the University of Arizona for three years and completed a B.A. degree in English at the University of Washington in 1964. She taught for a little while, was a hostess at the New York World’s Fair where she met her first celebrities, worked briefly for a Washington newspaper, before becoming a free lance writer. She was married to another writer for 14 years but divorced in 1990. They did not have any children.

A glance at Kitty’s horoscope shows the obvious potential for success as a writer. The abusive parents are less obvious. A strong Virgo-Pisces identification includes the Antivertex, the East Point and the north lunar node in Virgo in the Pisces house while Neptune, ruler of Pisces, is in Virgo in the first house. Kitty’s mother is also connected to the Virgo-Pisces polarity since Ceres is conjunct the south node of the Moon in Pisces in the Virgo house. People with a Virgo-Pisces emphasis can be artists, saviors or victims. Kitty’s mother apparently felt enough a victim to drink but mainly she made Kitty her victim. Adele, Kitty’s sister who was born 12 years after her, would not discuss the family except to say that what Kitty grew up with was different that what she grew up with. I usually find that there was a difficult relationship with a parent when the south lunar node is on the Moon or Ceres (for mother) or on Saturn (for father). The Moon in early Sagittarius is square Ceres, suggesting that mother was in conflict within herself over faith, values, goals, etc. The nodes, East Point, and Ascendant are square the very close conjunction of MC, Jupiter, and Mars, showing the potential for conflict with one or both parents. Jupiter rules the IC and is on the MC so it is a key to both parents. Also, Saturn, the traditional key to father and one of the rulers of the fourth house, is in the Sagittarius house. Traditional astrology would expect good fortune to come from parents so associated with Jupiter, but letter nine (as well as twelve) is often a sign of too high expectations and consequent frustration.

Kitty undoubtedly also expected too much of herself and had to battle self-criticism. The combinations that mark perfectionism are connected to both parents and to herself. Letters nine and twelve are looking for the Absolute while letters six and ten are looking for flaws. We see these combinations in the Virgo-Pisces mixtures, with both Sagittarius and Capricorn in Kitty’s fourth house, with Saturn in her ninth house and with Jupiter in her tenth house. If the search for the Absolute becomes religious fanaticism, the belief that our way is the only right way and any deviation is a sin threatening damnation, incredible cruelty becomes possible. It would appear that Kitty’s mother was a fanatic in some ways. Kitty may have learned from her example though it has not stopped her from practicing psychological cruelty in her writing about famous people.

The same combinations which can signify a perfectionist can also indicate a struggle between faith and materialism. Or they can be manifested by bringing one’s faith into form in the material world, by an idealistic career. Or they can be expressed by bringing one’s knowledge (Jupiter) or creative imagination (Neptune) into tangible form through writing. Kitty has found great success in the last. Her close grand trine in earth signs and fire houses including Neptune, Vesta, and Uranus-Saturn shows a potential steam roller and she has done a fair amount of that with her books. Her creativity and strong will are also shown by the fire signs with Moon trine Pluto and an Aries Sun. Venus in Aquarius in the Virgo house is a key to artistic talent and/or financial success in her work with a preference for varied and intellectually stimulating work. Vesta in the fifth house, especially in Capricorn, marks a tendency to either make one’s children one’s primary job and therefore to delay work outside the home, or to work with children in the job (commonly teaching), or to avoid having children because of career ambitions and a refusal to have children unless we can “do it right.” After her early experiences, it is understandable that Kitty could be reluctant to risk motherhood. If she had had children, she would have had to be very careful not to repeat her mother’s pattern of criticism and control of the kids.

Kitty’s tendency toward self-doubt and her need to please other people to gain reassurance about her own worth is not only suggested by the tendency to expect too much of herself but also by the potential for projecting her personal power. Conflict aspects between different forms of letter one show the danger of inner warfare, of self-against-self or self-blocking. Kitty has her Ascendant square Mars, the natural ruler of the first house and Mercury which rules her Ascendant opposite Neptune in the first house. The danger of projection is shown by Mercury’s placement in the seventh house, by Aries in the seventh and eighth houses, and by the Sun in the eighth house. Such individuals tend to experience their personal power (any form of letter one or letter five) in the hands of other people. In Kitty’s case, it was clearly in her parents’ hands and they abused it, but she tried to compensate by being the most popular student in her school. Later, she married a fellow writer but one who could not equal her success. The tendency to project one’s personal power can lead to giving in to please people, to trying to keep all the power, or to avoiding closeness in order to escape being hurt. On the positive side, we can share the power with compromise, have healthy, game-playing competition, and help people.

Before leaving Miss Kelley, we can take a quick look at how her chart hits the horoscope of the last of her famous subjects, Nancy Reagan. At first glance, we can see that Kitty’s Ascendant is exactly conjunct Nancy’s Saturn while Kitty’s East Point and north lunar node are exactly conjunct Nancy’s Jupiter. Additionally, Nancy’s P Sun was conjunct Kitty’s Ascendant while the book was being written and Nancy’s P Jupiter and P Saturn were conjunct Kitty’s P Neptune; all within one degree orbs. It would be fascinating to know what kind of karmic tie links these two souls from the past. Another tie which is presumably from the past in Nancy’s Uranus on Kitty’s south lunar node and Ceres. Kitty’s Sun is also conjunct Nancy’s Chiron and Antivertex, in water houses in both charts to further suggest the connections from the past. Nancy’s Venus is conjunct Kitty’s Saturn-Uranus but in this case, Kitty got the money and any pleasure in the project. Kitty’s P Mars was conjunct Nancy’s natal Mercury and IC while the book was being written, which fits Kitty’s career action (her tenth house) analyzing (Mercury) Nancy’s past (her IC). Finally, Kitty’s Chiron is on Nancy’s Ceres as Kitty wrote (Chiron) about Nancy’s mother (Ceres). Many other aspects could be mentioned, but conjunctions are the most important and intense.

At the moment, Kitty has attained both money and fame but I’m not sure that she has achieved happiness. Perfectionists have to learn to enjoy the journey because no matter how high we climb, there is another higher hill just ahead.

Copyright © 1991 Los Angeles Community Church of Religious Science, Inc.

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