TV personality Miss Cleo dies of cancer at 53
MIAMI -- Miss Cleo, the late-night TV pitchwoman for psychic services on the telephone, died Tuesday in South Florida. Her real name was Youree Harris, and she was a cultural touchstone from the 1990s through the early 2000s. Harris died of cance...
MIAMI - Miss Cleo, the late-night TV pitchwoman for psychic services on the telephone, died Tuesday in South Florida.
Her real name was Youree Harris, and she was a cultural touchstone from the 1990s through the early 2000s. Harris died of cancer in Palm Beach County on Tuesday, TMZ reported, at age 53.
With Miss Cleo’s Afrocentric attire and Jamaican accent, her commercials for Psychic Readers Network hustling 1-900 telephone readings became camp entertainment to some. To those searching for supernatural answers to love or money questions, the late-night advertising spots proved more alluring than astrology or a Magic 8-Ball.
Harris told Vice.com in 2014 that her supernatural talents and Jamaican background were real as was the accent - her Jamaican parents taught her to squash the patois, she said.
But she was playing a personality owned by a company. The “Miss Cleo” character was the property of Access Resource Services, based in Fort Lauderdale.
Miss Cleo’s time as an A-list cultural reference ended when the Federal Trade Commission charged Access and the Psychic Readers Network with, among other illegal business practices, billing people $4.99 a minute for initial calls advertised as being free. In a 2002 settlement with the FTC, the companies agreed to forgive approximately $500 million in customers’ charges, return to customers all uncashed checks and pay an additional $5 million to settle the FTC charges. The court order also required the companies to cease all pay-per-call activity.