07 July 2008


I meant to post about this the other day. I'm a little slow on the up-take, what can I say?

The Asbury Park fortune teller, Madam Marie, who became a figure of rock ’n’ roll mythology thanks to Bruce Springsteen, died on Friday (27 June 2008).

Madame Marie is pictured here, in a 2004 Asbury Park Press File Photo, waiting for a client at her boardwalk Temple of Knowledge.

Her obit, courtesy of the Asbury Park Press:

July 2, 2008

Madam Marie, 93, passes away

Made famous by Springsteen


It was one line from a Bruce Springsteen song that made the boardwalk fortuneteller world famous. And now, Madam Marie has passed away.

Marie Castello, who had told fortunes since the 1930s and became famous for her presence and predictions on the Asbury Park boardwalk, died Friday, her great-granddaughter, Sally Castello said Tuesday. Family members attended morning services Tuesday, Castello said.

She was such a part of the Asbury Park boardwalk; she was the longest-running tenant, according to Gary Mottola, president of investments for developer Madison Marquette, the lead partner in a joint venture with Asbury Partners to restore or rebuild the boardwalk's entertainment buildings.

"She's an Asbury Park tradition," Mottola said. "We felt that honoring her by lowering the Convention Hall flag to half-staff is the right thing to do."

The psychic reader and adviser was 93. She became known worldwide from Bruce Springsteen's homage to her in his 1973 song "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)":

"Did you hear the cops finally busted Madam Marie for tellin' fortunes better than they do."

"That was just The Boss," said Asbury Park Deputy Mayor Jim Bruno. "She was never arrested. But Springsteen turned her into an icon."

Bruno remembers his own run-in with the psychic.

"I was a 12-year-old kid. And I don't remember what I was doing, but I remember her chasing me away from her shack," he said. "Her death is a real loss."

It also was somewhat unexpected.

"She really wasn't sick. She just wasn't feeling well," Castello said. "She was very, very strong until the day she died."

Madam Marie bragged that she had told the fortunes of everyone from Judy Garland to Springsteen himself. Legend has it that she told Springsteen he was going to be a success. Springsteen later joked that she told all the musicians that.

Springsteen, though, never forgot Madam Marie.

"He always comes by to say hello," she told Asbury Park Press columnist Bill Handleman in May. "He knows where he came from."

Marie Castello closed down her regular seer operations on the boardwalk in the mid-1990s after a drop-off in business. She continued telling fortunes in Ocean Township.

However, Sally Castello is one of the family members who still does readings at the Madam Marie booth not far from Convention Hall on the boardwalk.

"The booth will always be there," Marie Castello told Handleman. "The Temple of Knowledge, that's a landmark, that's nostalgia. They'll never tear it down."

In that interview, she also said she saw better times ahead for Asbury Park.

And she would know. As she told Handleman: "I've seen it all."

Maybe she did.

Gary Froonjian, a former Middletown resident who moved to Florida but is operating a mobile espresso bar on the boardwalk this summer, sought her services once.

"After a fun night at the Stone Pony, I staggered in there one time," Froonjian recalled.

"I can't remember what she told me. It had to be 28 years ago," he said. But he added that he found the experience "very, very eerie."

1 comment:

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

They dedicated the Asbury fireworks to Madame Marie and E Streeter Danny Federici. I thought that was pretty cool....The Madame would have probably got a kick out of that. Or, she would have been her feisty self, like, "Hell, yeah -- I made this boardwalk! Stayed here when no one else would!" :-)