If you watched any amount of TV in the late 1990s and early 2000s, then you definitely heard the bold claims and Jamaican accent of one Miss Cleo, the temporarily ubiquitous TV psychic whose real name was Youree Dell Harris. Unfortunately, Miss Cleo's days of taking customers calls is long gone, as the actress and self-proclaimed psychic passed away today, July 26, 2016. She was 54 years old.
Miss Cleo died this morning in Palm Beach County, Florida, according to TMZ. She was diagnosed with colon cancer previously, but the disease sadly spread to her lungs and her liver, severely limiting her chances. She was reportedly hospitalized recently, but was released last week and was transported to a hospice center. It's said she was surrounded by her family and friends as she died, and that she was as strong as could be as she battled the cancer.
It was literally impossible not to sit through at least a handful of Miss Cleo commercials and infomercials a week in those days before TiVo and DVR became household necessities. After an unsuccessful stint heading a stage production company (that reportedly wasn't exactly the most straightforward and honest endeavor), Harris joined the Psychic Readers Network in the late 1990s, adopting the Jamaican persona and fake name, using a variety of headwear and bright colors to urge commercial-watching consumers to "CALL ME NOW!" That phrase was uttered on TV far more times than one can possibly imagine, and it led to huge success for the Psychic Readers Network.
Of course, the company and Miss Cleo got into a slew of legal troubles as the years went by, with many lawsuits coming from customers claiming fraudulent tactics were used. The biggest hit came in 2002 when the FTC slapped the company's execs with charges for deceptive advertising and collection practices, though Miss Cleo escaped that unscathed. Although that's when it was revealed that the accent and name were fake
Later, Harris went on to speak about her years as Miss Cleo for two documentaries, 2010's Becoming Psychic and 2014's Hotline. She also voiced a character in the hugely popular video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and actually later reprised her Miss Cleo persona for a marketing campaign for French Toast Crunch. Check that out below.
It's hard to think of a marketing crossover that's stranger than that, which is kind of a great thing. Not only will Youree Harris be remembered for one of the most aped catchphrases of modern advertising, but also for the return of a pretty good cereal. We here at Cinema Blend send our thoughts and condolences to the friends and family of Miss Cleo in this time of mourning.
Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
Your Daily Blend of Entertainment News
Thank you for signing up to CinemaBlend. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.