Zolar

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Astrologer casts a horoscope with the Tables of Houses, Ephemerides and charts. Courtesy Fortean Picture Library.

Zolar (Bruce King) (1897–1976)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Bruce King was born in Chicago, Illinois, on July 22, 1897. His parents were devout Roman Catholics who wanted King to be a priest. He dropped out of his freshman year of high school to study drama. Although he wrote and acted in his own play at age sixteen, King ended up selling men’s hats. He later worked as a travelling salesman, selling a line of men’s wholesale clothing. By the age of nineteen, he was making $20,000 per year and driving a red Roamer, which at that time was comparable to a Rolls Royce. A year later, he was in the army during World War I.

When he came out of the army, King headed for California. He went from menswear to the securities business, and quickly becoming a successful broker. In 1931, the Great Depression had begun and King bought a radio station in Los Angeles. There he found that the only person who made any real money was an astrologer known as “Kobar.” Kobar would give readings over the air and then sell horoscopes at one dollar each. King found that Kobar was selling more than 4,000 horoscopes per week. King made Kobar the station manager, but later both of them decided to quit. King went to New York; not finding what he wanted there, he decided to go back to his hometown, Chicago. He went to the local radio station and purchased seven and a half hours per week of air time and wired for Kobar to join him. They became partners, with Kobar doing the show and King managing the business. After only a month, they were making $5,000 per week from selling horoscopes at a dollar each. Within a few months they had the third highest rated radio show in Chicago. This inspired them to expand to Detroit, St. Louis, Wheeling, Columbus, Pittsburgh, and Fort Worth. In each city, King would hire an actor, give him a mystical name such as “Ramar” or “Yogar,” and have him read Kobar’s old scripts. They had to hire thirty women in Chicago to ship the horoscope orders.

One day, quite unexpectedly, Kobar decided he was quitting and left the partnership. King himself then took over as “astrologer.” He armed himself with Kobar’s old scripts and starting reading astrology books. After only one show he knew he had found his niche. King later published the Official Astrology Magazine and started writing books on astrology, dreams, and other aspects of the occult.

In 1972, King met R. Donald Papon, who was editing Sybil Leek’s Astrology magazine and teaching astrology courses at New York City’s New School. They worked together for years on astrological projects and other ventures. In 1975, King was diagnosed with bone cancer and his health deteriorated. He died on January 15, 1976. In February 1979, King’s widow Billie died and left the Zolar Publishing Company and all rights to the Zolar name to Papon. Papon picked up the banner and has been writing “Zolar” books ever since. Zolar’s Book of the Spirits (1987) reviews Spiritualism and Spiritualist mediums around the country. It contains detailed summaries of many well known figures such as Daniel Dunglas Home, Arthur Ford, and the Fox Family, and reviews of Lily Dale and the National Spiritualist Association of Churches.

Sources:

The Hermetic Order Temple Heliopolis: http://www.zolar-thoth.org/
Zolar: Zolar’s Book of the Spirits: All the Most Famous and Fabulous Lore about Contacting the Spirit World. New York, Prentice Hall, 1987