Famed television psychic Miss Cleo died Tuesday morning in Palm Beach County, Fla., after a battle with colon cancer. She was 53.
Miss Cleo, born Youree Dell Harris in Los Angeles, became an infomercial staple in the late ’90s until the early ’00s as the spokeswoman for Psychic Readers Network. The on-air personality would wear headwraps and colorful garb and use a fake Jamaican accent. Her infomercials became well known for her on-air psychic readings and famous catchphrases “You can’t fool Miss Cleo” and “Call me now.”
The calls claimed to be free, but according to the Federal Trade Commission, customers were charged $4.99 per minute adding up to an average of $60 per call. Nearly six million people fell victim to the charges. The Psychic Readers Network’s parent company reached a settlement with customers in 2002 and the Miss Cleo character retired. Harris would continue on to do private readings with clients.
In 2006, Harris came out as a lesbian in an interview with The Advocate. She told the publication coming out had always been hard for her because of people’s reactions.
“The reason it’s scary is because in my personal experience, black cultures throughout the world have a more difficult time accepting homosexuality in their family,” Harris told The Advocate.
“I have family members who will be shocked; they don’t know. I have some family members who are very close to me, and they do know. But I’ve been afraid of the wrath, of the exile. When I came out to a number of friends in the late ’80s I had a number of friends who turned their backs on me and walked away. That was really intense. I really believed they were my friends,” Harris continued.
Harris appeared in the 2014 documentary “Hotline,” which followed hotline operators and their clients. In the film, she discussed her time as a television psychic and the scandal behind Psychic Readers Network.
“What I loved watching was — and what was most poignant for me — was the connection I made with other people that were featured in the film,” Harris told IndieWire after the film’s premiere. “It really touched me. I’m tickled.”