PERSONAL: Born John Maggee, Jr., in Long Island, NY; son of John (a police officer) and Perinda Magee; married; wife's name, Sandra. Education: Degree in public administration and health-care administration.
ADDRESSES: Office—P.O. Box 383, Huntington, NY 11743; fax: 631-547-6775. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Psychic medium and writer. Worked as a laboratory blood technician, ballroom dance instructor, and in hospital management; host of syndicated television series Crossing over with John Edward, beginning 2000; guest on television programs, including Life Afterlife, Home Box Office (HBO), 1999. Producer of audio series Developing Your Own Psychic Powers.
One Last Time: A Psychic Medium Speaks to Those We Have Loved and Lost, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 1998.
What If God Were the Sun? (novel), Jodere Group (San Diego, CA), 2000.
Crossing Over: The Stories behind the Stories, Jodere Group (San Diego, CA), 2001.
ADAPTATIONS: Crossing Over was adapted for audio.
SIDELIGHTS: John Edward has written about his life in both One Last Time: A Psychic Medium Speaks to Those We Have Loved and Lost and Crossing Over: The Stories behind the Stories. The latter is based on his experiences in producing the syndicated television series Crossing Over with John Edward.
Born on Long Island, New York, Edward claimed he was an ordinary child, except for the fact that he had out-of-body experiences and visions of dead relatives he had never met, and could predict visitors and phone calls before they occurred. His mother was a believer in the paranormal and held group meetings in their home. It was through his mother's salons that he met Lydia Clar in 1985, a psychic who mentored the boy she felt had special gifts. Edward first read palms and tarot cards, and worked in a laboratory and as a ballroom dance instructor. He learned to dance at Arthur Murray from his wife, Sandra, who taught there. Edward established a career in hospital management, where he remained until his work as a psychic developed into a full-time job.
An Entertainment Weekly contributor wrote that "psychics certainly aren't new, but Edward has mainstreamed readings with his regular-Joe approach.... His unique delivery aside, however, Edward's readings are similar to the ones psychics have been giving since Nostradamus. He gets information 'seeing, hearing, and feeling energy,' and though his details are sometimes fuzzy, he nearly always concludes with a clear message of forgiveness or love from the dearly departed. Thus, skeptics have been dissecting his routine . . . just as they have since Nostradamus." The writer noted that skeptics "commonly accuse of Edward of relying on a classic technique called cold reading: using a host of assumptions, generalizations, and subtle manipulations to lead someone into thinking you are 'hitting' many of their private memories.... Edward insists he's fine with people not believing in communicating with the dead, but he's insulted when they call him a fraud."
One Last Time is Edward's memoir of how he accepted his power and acted on it to help the living communicate with the dead. He explains how the spirits communicate to him through sounds, voices, smells, tastes, images, sensations, and symbolism. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that Edward "offers an intriguing collection of anecdotes that may not convince the cynical but that can both comfort and fascinate the merely skeptical."
Crossing Over is also a memoir in which Edward talks about specific experiences, what motivates him, and the rough spots he had to overcome in his career. Salon.com contributor Shari Waxman reviewed the book and wrote that Edward "is more than a psychic medium: he is also a master statistician. The smoke and mirrors behind his self-processed ability to communicate with the dead is a simple application of the laws of probability. Basically, if you keep trying something whose results are independent, your odds of getting your desired result increase."
Waxman pointed out that the book includes descriptions of Edward's more notable readings. "The careful plucking of successes from a mass of attempts is a technique used in Edward's television show as well. The creation of each half-hour episode requires six hours of taping. Do the math. Yet it works. I prefer to believe Edward's fans are not unintelligent, but simply in need of something to believe in, to feel good about, or to relieve the anxiety of what cannot be controlled. If he is fulfilling these needs, then in some ways, his gig is legit."
Entertainment Weekly contributor Noah Robischon noted that Gary Schwartz, founder of the Human Energy Systems Laboratory and a Harvard-trained psychologist "found that mediums attempting to communicate with the dead were accurate more often than control subjects. And Edward is sure enough of his own abilities to brush off his detractors. Confidence, by the way, is one of the true hallmarks of a successful psychic."
But many are believers. Edward began by working at psychic fairs and developed a following of people who requested private readings. He appeared on radio shows on both coasts, and his television show first aired on the Sci Fi Channel in 2000. It was quickly syndicated and distributed on both sides of the Atlantic. He has appeared on many nationally televised shows, including Entertainment Tonight Dateline, and Larry King, and, in addition to his own very successful stage appearances and sold-out seminars, Edward's books and instructional tapes do very well. His waiting list for private readings became so long, that he was forced to stop taking names.
Edward, who lost his own mother to cancer, writes about such a loss in his novel, What If God Were the Sun? Timothy Callahan has a large, loving Italian-American family watched over by his mother, who is dying of cancer. As she deteriorates, he reflects on the existence of a welcoming afterlife where she will be reunited with loved ones. Sharon Galligar Chance reviewed the book for BookBrowser online, saying that "Edward's main point is to pass along the message of letting the important people in your life know that you are there for them in this lifetime. He offers a comforting message that love can bridge even death. . . . I was personally touched by this sensitive story."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Edward, John, Crossing Over: The Stories behind the Stories, Jodere Group (San Diego, CA), 2001.
Edward, John, One Last Time: A Psychic Medium Speaks to Those We Have Loved and Lost, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 1998.
Entertainment Weekly, September 14, 2001, "Tomb Reader," p. 57; September 21, 2001, Noah Robischon, "Dead End? TV Psychic John Edward claims That He Can Communicate with the Dead."
John Edward Home Page,http://www.johnedward.net (March 24, 2003).
People, May 6, 2002, Tom Gliatto, Natasha Stoynoff, "Medium Rare: Skeptics Howl, but TV Psychic John Edward Says He Hears Dead People," p. 85.
Publishers Weekly, November 16, 1998, review of One Last Time: A Psychic Medium Speaks to Those We Have Loved and Lost, p. 63.
Skeptical Inquirer, November, 2001, Joe Nickell, "John Edward: Hustling the Bereaved," p. 19.
Teen People, March 1, 2002, "The Great Communicator" (interview), p. 76.
Time, March 5, 2001, Leon Jaroff, "Talking to the Dead," p. 52.
BookBrowser,http://www.bookbrowser.com/ (May 11, 2002), Sharon Galligar Chance, review of What If God Were the Sun?
Salon.com,http://www.salon.com/ (June 13, 2002), Shari Waxman, review of Crossing Over: The Stories behind the Stories.
Sci Fi,http://www.scifi.com/ (January 2, 2003).*