Psychic: Bette Davis May Still Be Smoking

Kenny Kingston is in the back seat of a Mercury Tracer speeding south to Laguna Beach. Over the blast of the air conditioner and the roar of passing trucks, Kingston chats about what Marilyn Monroe told him from the grave.

"You know, she came to me in spirit in 1977 and said that within two weeks Elvis Presley would be on the other side," he said, glancing out the car window.

OK. Marilyn Monroe in 1977. She had been dead, what, 15 years?

"So I called James Bacon, who used to report on Hollywood for The Associated Press, and he said, `Who did you hear from tonight, Kenny?' and I said, `Marilyn.' And I told him what Marilyn had told me, just so someone from the press would have it on record.

"And sure enough, on Aug. 16, Presley passed."

Are you sure?

Behind the wheel, Kingston's companion Valerie Porter nods slowly.

"Ten days later," she says solemnly.

A moment of silence - make that a millisecond - passes before Kingston begins again.

"Now Lucille Ball. . ."

Didn't she die in 1989?

". . . She is extremely happy with Desi and watching over Lucy Jr. and her career. And of course, Desi Jr."

Of course. Of course, Kenny Kingston knows these things.

For Kingston - smooth as a milkshake and chock full of charm - is the "Psychic to the Stars," a Hollywood institution who says he is in regular contact with all the greats, both "passed" and present.

And on this day, Kingston is dropping their names like anvils.

Garbo. Monroe. Bette Davis. Even Hitler.

"These are people I know," he says. "I'm sorry! I'm a happy medium. I got a story for everybody in the world!"

Also a teacher

In his lectures, Kingston tries to teach his mostly female audiences how to tap into their own psychic abilities.

"But they don't really come to develop their own power," he says. "They want to know about themselves. A little about business, but mostly romance.

"People today are turning to psychics more than doctors. We give them hope."

The car is snaking down Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach. As it passes Main Beach, Kingston takes in a deep breath.

"Oh!" he marvels. "I think there is so much energy right here in this spot!"

Porter doesn't have the exact address of the Bette Davis estate, but turns on Diamond Street. And there is the house.

"The spirits are really working!" Kingston bellows in back. "Thank you, sweet spirits!"

Kingston emerges from the car to stand before the house, a sprawling Tudor set behind high walls on Ocean Way.

"I think she's definitely here. Definitely," Kingston says. "And loving every minute of it."

Pressed for time, he decides not to try to reach the actress's spirit.

Davis never was one of Kingston's clients, and, in fact, they only were introduced twice while she was alive, he says.

But in death, Davis is a regular correspondent.

As Kingston tells the story, he and Porter were in Laguna Beach and stopped into a real-estate office to ask where the actress once lived.

"The realtor told us, `That home is for sale. Would you like to see it?' " Kingston says. He pauses. Behind his tinted glasses, Kingston dramatically raises one eyebrow.

Where's the seat?

Psychic moment acknowledged, he continues the story:

Once inside the house, Kingston began to hear Davis' frail voice in his ear. Frail, he said, because she had just died a few months before in a Paris hospital in 1989.

With Davis directing him from room to room, Kingston confounded the agent showing them the house. They knew where the game room was. And then they asked to see the wine cellar.

"She claimed," Kingston says, "That somewhere down there was an original toilet seat left over from the days she was there."

He pauses. Another psychic moment.

So that's it? A toilet seat?

"The original one," Kingston says. "And as far as the contact we made, it's still here."

In other contacts, Davis has told Kingston that she is trying to quit smoking with the help of Tallulah Bankhead, "who smoked 110 cigarettes a day while she was alive," he says. "Go figure that out."

Kingston refuses to use his psychic powers to help people make money, preferring to advise them on relationships, business and health.

But even he didn't see Marilyn Monroe's "passing" coming in August 1962 and to this day, believes it was an "accidental overdose of barbiturates and alcohol."

In the afterlife, he said, Monroe is studying philosophy.

"She was a very happy woman," he said. "Not the strange one people made her out to be."

Kingston has made a comfortable living as a psychic and believes he was born with the power. In his thick press packet, he lists his spiritual guides as the late actor Clifton Webb, Indian Chief Running Bull, a Dr. Mayberry and his grandfather, Henry Clark.

He was trained in psychometry by his mother, Kaye, and learned to do readings over the phone from family friend Mae West.

Through West and others, Kingston was able to parlay his psychic skills into a full-blown entertainment career, appearing on television talk-shows, mixing with stars and traveling in jet-setting circles that at one time included the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

"I've never done anything but this," Kingston said. "I don't use my brain. I open my mouth and it comes out. The spirits speak through me."

Currently, Kingston is preparing his third book, "I Still Talk to . . ." scheduled for fall release by Berkeley-Putnam.

When he feels like it, Kingston conducts one-hour, private readings in his Studio City home for $250 a pop. He also appears regularly on "Loveline," a call-in advice show, where staff members have dubbed him "The Awesome Dude."

Kingston delights in the moniker, as well as one given to him by a British journalist: "A pixie with a facelift."

What is age?

Seemed as good an opening as any - how old is he?

"What is age?" Kingston says with a smile that put the issue to rest. "When I open my eyes, I feel I'm ahead."

Over a lunch of chicken enchiladas and iced water with lemon, Kingston chatted about his travels with former client Greta Garbo, who, strangely, hasn't done much communicating since she died in 1990.

When she lived in Beverly Hills, the star used to call Kingston late at night and murmur "I've got the scissors," then take Kingston along as she cut roses from neighbors' gardens.

Kingston used to help Garbo contact the spirit of her one and only love, George Sheely, the husband of the designer Valentina.

And, Kingston says, Garbo had a strange liking for Paul Lynde on "The Hollywood Squares."

"Yeah!" Kingston says. "Sent him the only fan letter she ever wrote. Isn't that weird?"

One more thing, Kingston says: "While on Earth, Monroe, Garbo and Dietrich all shared the same problem."

And with that, Kenny Kingston stops talking and starts smiling.

"Buy the book," he said.