SAN FRANCISCO — Sylvia Browne once said she was just 3 when she discovered she could look into the future and know what was coming.
For the next 74 years, Browne claimed to do just that, predicting who would win elections, which celebrities would be getting married, splitting up or having babies, and whether people who had disappeared were alive or dead.
Sometimes she got it right and sometimes not. Among the predictions that misfired was one she made to talk-show host Larry King in 2003 that she would live to be 88.
Browne was 77 when she died Wednesday at Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose. The cause of death was not disclosed.
One of the most well-known psychics of her generation, Browne often appeared on “The Montel Williams Show” and in interviews with King. She wrote dozens of books, including several best-sellers, and she sometimes offered her services to the FBI and police agencies.
Over the years she said she mingled with angels and ghosts, twice traveled through the tunnel of light during near-death experiences, and came face-to-face with extraterrestrials.
She also believed in reincarnation, telling King that people keep coming back to Earth in new lives until they get it right.
In a statement posted on her website, Williams indicated his belief that she made the cut this time.
“A beacon that shined for so many was extinguished today, but its brightness was relit and will now shine forever for many of us from above,” he said.
Browne said she discovered her psychic ability as a preschooler in her native Kansas City, Mo., For many years, it was something she shared only with friends and family.
She eventually began giving readings to others and, 10 years after moving to California in 1964, she formed the Nirvana Foundation for Psychic Research.
Among the predictions she cited over the years as coming true were that Arnold Schwarzenegger would go into politics (made 11 years before the “Terminator” actor was elected California’s governor) and that Madonna would have a second child but not by the father of her first one. A year before Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 she predicted the United States would have its first black president within eight years.
A vision misfired badly when she told the parents of Shawn Hornbeck in 2002 that the 11-year-old Missouri boy was dead after he disappeared while riding his bike. Police found him four years later living with his abductor.
She also told the mother of Ohio kidnapping victim Amanda Berry in 2004 that her daughter was dead. Berry and two other women were later found alive. They had been held captive for years.
Such wrong information given to grief-stricken people brought Browne her share of critics, including those who maintained that her psychic powers were no more than educated guesses.
She responded that even the best psychics don’t get it right every time. She also maintained that even a psychic can’t predict exactly what’s going to happen to them.
Indeed, if they could she presumably would not have booked a Caribbean cruise for herself and her fans scheduled for next March.
Browne is survived by her husband, Michael Ulery; her son and fellow psychic, Christopher Dufresne; another son, Paul Dufresne; her sister, Sharon Bortolussi; and three grandchildren.
Services will be private.