Allene Cunningham, once one of the nation’s best-known psychics, died in her sleep early Sunday morning. She was 94 years old.
Ms. Cunningham was known as the “First Lady of Broadcast Psychic Counseling.” She was a friend of the stars, appeared on numerous television and radio shows, was the author of “Heaven Sent” and the subject of countless other books.
Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. May 12 at NewSpring Church, 12200 E. 21st St.
Ms. Cunningham was born June 23, 1921, in Wichita. She was a graduate of East High School.
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As a young girl, she would often have dreams and intuitive moments, said her son and manager, Pat Preboth. But it wouldn’t be until she was a single mother and divorced that she actively pursued her psychic potential, handwriting analysis and astrology readings.
“Thousands of people would ask my mother, ‘Can I talk to the dead? Is the spirit living?’” Preboth said.
“My mother was a born again Christian. … But she also started to have all these feelings, moments and intuitions that opened her mind so that she came to the conclusion that the psychic sense was just like the other senses. Everybody has got it.
“We can all sing in the shower but not all of us can sing like Barbra Streisand. She turned out to be so strong.”
Ms. Cunningham appeared on countless TV and radio talk shows – she predicted that Oprah Winfrey would become great, that Patty Hearst would serve a short time in prison, and that Donny Osmond would extend his career, Preboth said.
She sang at Billy Graham’s Crusades and was a featured artist on the Internional Sacred Recordings of Christian Artists record label, her son said.
Her father was a barber in Wichita and, at age 9, Ms. Cunningham would bring customers to his store by singing and polishing their shoes.
Later, during the Great Depression, Ms. Cunningham auditioned as a teenager in Hollywood and was signed to sing by the Chicago Opera Co. and National Broadcasting Co. at $1,000 a week, according to her book, “Heaven Sent.”
She was married to Roland Preboth, a Baptist minister. The marriage lasted 23 years and ended unhappily, according to her son. But it prompted her to study and sharpen her intuitive skills.
She was a student of Edgar Cayce, the 20th-century American mystic who proclaimed knowledge of the afterlife.
“It required thirty years of my life finally to learn we can’t change others,” Ms. Cunningham wrote in her book. “But I can change myself – and then I can attract the kind of others I desire. …
“Become aware of the self. That is the only way to change the aura field that attracts to us the substances of things in our lives.”
Ms. Cunningham specialized in psychic counseling.
“Everybody always had a preconceived notion what a psychic counselor was,” Preboth said. “She taught people to be spiritually positive. Through motivation and mental projection, they could have control over their own life.”
Her Wichita office was for many years in Clifton Square and then in later years in her son’s home in the Overbrook neighborhood in east Wichita. She did astrology charts, handwriting analysis, psychic readings and astrology.
Her logo, though, for years, read “Physic Counseling.”
“I had some fancy artist do the logo and spent half our money on the poster, and he misspelled ‘psychic’,” Preboth said.
Despite the typo, Preboth said he and his mother “were on the road for 35 years, 11 months a year in three to five cities a month nonstop and never quitting.”
She counseled the rich and famous and the not-so-famous. She was written into “The Doctors” soap opera, which ran on NBC from 1963 to 1982, Preboth said.
Ms. Cunningham is survived by her sons: Danny, Micol and Patric (Vicki) Preboth; a brother, Gene (Jeannie) Cunningham; and eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Memorial donations can be made to the Wichita Alzheimer’s Association, 1820 E. Douglas, Wichita, KS 67214.