Iconic TV psychic Miss Cleo has died at age 53, TMZ is reporting. She reportedly had colon cancer that spread to her lungs and liver.
The spiritual advisor, whose real name was Youree Harris, gained infamy in the late 1990s for a series of infomercials touting her psychic hotline. Though raised in L.A., Harris adopted a Jamaican accent for the spots, and urged viewers to “call me now!”
In 2006, after her infomercials went off the air, Harris came out as a lesbian. She credited her teenage godson, who is also gay, for giving her the strength to share her truth.
“When he made the decision I told him I’d be there to support him 100%, and he embraced [coming out] wholeheartedly,” Harris told the Advocate. “It’s a different vibe than when I was his age, being raised Catholic in an all-girls boarding school. But he was afraid of nothing, and I thought, I can’t be a hypocrite. This boy is going to force me to put my money where my mouth is.”
After the Psychic Readers Network closed down, Harris took a variety of jobs—including voicework in the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and appearing in a commercial for French Toast Crunch cereal.
She used a variety of aliases besides Cleo over the years, including LaShawnda Williams, Corvette Mama, Elenore St. Julian, Desiree Canterlaw, Janet Snyder, Maria Delcampo, Christina Garcia, Cleomili Harris and Youree Perris.
As for her psychic powers, Harris maintained she was more of a counselor or “spiritual adviser.”
“I’m more a shaman, an elder in a community who has visions and gives direction to people in their village,” she explained in the Advocate interview. “My clients and my students are my village. I take care of this community. If you sit down at my table, you have to take away a lesson and not just learn what is going to happen tomorrow. I also perform weddings — both gay and straight marriages — and house cleansings and blessings.”