Miss Cleo, the TV psychic whose pay-per-view service encouraged viewers to “call me now,” died July 26 in Palm Beach, Fla., following a battle with cancer. She was 53.
Although fans may have believed that the television personality was born in the Caribbean judging from her Jamaican accent, she actually hailed from Los Angeles. She claimed to possess genuine psychic abilities which she would use on infomercials for the Psychic Readers Network and other channels. For a fee, viewers in the late 1990s and early 2000s would get tarot card readings over the phone. At the time, the public was unaware of her true identity, and that Youree Dell Harris (her real name) had used a number of aliases over the years including LaShawnda Williams, Corvette Mama, Deseree Canterlaw, Christina Garcia and Janet Snyder. The Psychic Readers Network and others were investigated over the years, but Miss Cleo was never charged with any crime.
In 2001, Access Resource Services—doing business as the Psychic Readers Network—was sued in a number of multi-state lawsuits as well as by the Federal Communications Commission which the following year charged the company’s owners and Harris’ promoters, Steven Feder and Peter Stoltz, with deceptive advertising, billing and collection practices. While Harris was not indicted, her promoters agreed to settle for a fraction of the amount of money they took in.
Harris had a varied career. In 1996 she and her partner opened a Seattle, Wash. production company that produced several of her plays; she acted in her first project which was an autobiographical work called “Women Only: A Celebration of Love, Life and Healing.” Another Seattle project, “Supper Club Cafe,” was not successful and she reportedly left town with a “… trail of debts and broken promises” according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
In 2002, she voiced the character Auntie Poulet in the video game “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.” The next year, the New York Daily News reported that the TV network FUSE had signed her as a spokesperson, and in early 2005 she was reportedly again appearing on television as Miss Cleo for a used car dealership in Florida.
She later spoke about her experiences in the 2014 documentary “Hotline.”