Youree Dell Harris: Cancer Claims Life Of TV Psychic Known As Miss Cleo
Youree Dell Harris, aka Miss Cleo, is dead. According to the New York Times, the 53-year-old “psychic reader” died in Palm Beach from complications related to her battle with cancer.
Miss Cleo was the star of the Psychic Readers Network, which was extremely popular in the late 1990s. Scores of late-night television viewers couldn’t get enough of her psychic readings. They scrambled to the phone after hearing her famous catchphrase, “Call me now!”
— Variety (@Variety) July 26, 2016
Miss Cleo spoke with a Jamaican accent. However, a former acquaintance revealed that Youree Dell Harris was born and raised in Los Angeles and her Jamaican accent was fake. It simply helped to create a more believable psychic persona. In addition, several former colleagues whom she met through the local theater industry questioned her Jamaican background as well.
Miss Cleo’s infomercials raked in millions of dollars. Viewers watched her counsel caller after caller, using her tarot cards to predict futures and reveal cheating lovers. In fact, Miss Cleo probably revealed more cheating lovers than all of the other Psychic Readers Network employees combined.
The following video clip shows Miss Cleo in action. She was a guest on the Jenny Jones Show.
Unfortunately, Youree Dell Harris’ fame was rather short-lived. The Psychic Readers Network, along with Access Resource Services, ended up in court in 2002. The lawsuit ordered the companies to forgive $500 million in “customer fees.” At that time, the Psychic Readers Network agreed to stop selling psychic-related phone services and pay a hefty $5 million fine. Miss Cleo and her late-night readings were no more.
Although she was never charged with a crime, she felt that the legal proceedings damaged her career and her reputation. She claimed to have made between 12 and 24 cents a minute working for the hotline and never thought of herself as a swindler.
Yahoo Style gave readers an inside look regarding the start of Miss Cleo’s career as a so-called psychic with the Psychic Readers Network. Youree Harris explained it like this.
“I come from a family of Obeah—which is another word for voodoo. My teacher was Haitian, [a mambo] born in Port-au-Prince, and I studied under her for some 30 years and then became a mambo myself. So they refer to me as psychic—because the word voodoo scares just about everybody.”
She went on to explain that many people thought she worked in a big room with several other psychics. However, in reality, she worked from home. While on a shopping trip, when a fan asked her why she wasn’t manning the phone, she gave the following answer.
“Honey, do you really think that I do that while I’m traveling and doing press? You have a better chance of talking to me right here than you do if you called.”
— Good Morning America (@GMA) July 26, 2016
After the infomercials went off of the air, Miss Cleo still enjoyed somewhat of a following. She and her accent were still easily recognizable on the street. Youree Harris appeared in the documentary Hotline. Produced by a fellow Psychic Readers Network employee, Hotline exposed the psychic industry and did its best to focus on some of the main reasons why people turn to psychics and phone chats to resolve their problems.
Miss Cleo also involved herself in the Grand Theft Auto video game franchise. Her voice can be heard on the Vice City version of the popular game.
Are you familiar with Miss Cleo? If so, did you ever call the Psychic Readers Network hotline? Feel free to leave your thoughts about the psychic industry in general below.
[Image via Shutterstock]