Miss Cleo on The Jenny Jones Show
Youree Dell Harris
August 12, 1962
|Died||July 26, 2016 (aged 53)|
|Other names||Cleomili Harris, Youree Perris|
|Known for||Phone/TV psychic|
|Part of a series on the|
Youree Dell Harris (August 12, 1962 – July 26, 2016) was an American television personality best known as Miss Cleo, a spokeswoman for a psychic pay-per-call service called Psychic Readers Network from 1997 to 2003. Harris used various aliases, including Cleomili Harris and Youree Perris.
Early life and career
Harris was born in Los Angeles on August 12, 1962, and raised in a Catholic Caribbean family. She attended an all-girls boarding school. She married at age 19, gave birth to a daughter, and divorced at age 21. She had a second daughter while in her late 20s.
In 1996, Harris and her partner opened a theatrical production company in Seattle, Washington, which produced several plays written by her. She also acted in her first project, an autobiographical play entitled For Women Only.
Her last project, Supper Club Cafe in 1997, was not successful, and she "left town with a trail of debts and broken promises" according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Some of the cast of her productions claimed that they were never paid, and that Harris "told her cast members she had bone cancer" and "her medical costs would prevent her from paying people immediately", but she wrote each actor and crew member a letter telling him or her how much money she owed them.
Psychic Readers Network
In the late 1990s, Harris began to work for the Psychic Readers Network under the name Cleo. She appeared as a television infomercial psychic in which she claimed she was a mystical shaman from Jamaica. Her employers' website also stated that Harris had been born in Trelawny, Jamaica, and grown up there.
The Psychic Readers Network is said to have coined the title "Miss Cleo" and sent unsolicited emails, some of which stated, "[Miss Cleo has] been authorized to issue you a Special Tarot Reading!... it is vital that you call immediately!" Charges of deceptive advertising and of fraud on the part of the Psychic Readers Network began to surface around this time. Among the complaints were allegations that calls to Miss Cleo were answered by her "associates" who were actors reading from scripts, and that calls promoted as "free" were in fact charged for.
In 2001, Access Resource Services doing business as Psychic Readers Network was sued in various lawsuits brought by (among others) Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, and the Federal Communications Commission, although a later report from Consumer Affairs said that "many customers were satisfied with the service." The report did not cite its source.
In 2002, the Federal Trade Commission charged the company's owners and Harris' promoters, Steven Feder and Peter Stotz, with deceptive advertising, billing, and collection practices; Harris was not indicted. The Psychic Readers Network had billed its victims for an estimated $1 billion. Her promoters agreed to settle by erasing $500 million of debt owed by its victims to Psychic Readers Network and paying a $5 million fine to the Federal Trade Commission. It emerged during a lawsuit in Florida that Harris had been born in Los Angeles, and that her parents were U.S. citizens.
In 2003, the New York Daily News reported that TV music network Fuse had signed Harris as a spokeswoman. In early 2005, Harris was reportedly appearing on television as Miss Cleo in advertisements for a used car dealership in Florida, according to the Broward-Palm Beach New Times. In 2006, she came out as a lesbian.
In 2015, Harris appeared as Miss Cleo in a series of advertisements for the General Mills cereal French Toast Crunch. The Psychic Readers Network intervened, however, saying that it owned the character of Miss Cleo, and the advertisements were no longer aired.
In popular culture
- "Miss Cleo's A Valley Girl". The Smoking Gun . March 14, 2002. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
- "Miss Cleo Dead at 53". TMZ. July 26, 2016. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
- Parvaz, D. (March 2, 2002). "Miss Cleo left a trail of deception in Seattle". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved November 18, 2006.
- CNN, Lisa Respers France. "'Miss Cleo,' TV psychic network pitchwoman, dies". CNN. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
- "Miss Cleo Comes Out". September 25, 2006. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
- "Actress who played TV psychic Miss Cleo dies of cancer at 53". Chicago Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
- "Phone psychics' scam follows script". Erie Times-News. December 1, 2001. p. 2.
- Lithwick, Dahlia. With Psychics Like These …: The lawsuits pile up for Miss Cleo. Slate, March 26, 2002. Accessed August 4, 2015.
- "Youree Dell Harris, who played Jamaican psychic 'Miss Cleo' in TV ads, dies at 53". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
- Hood, James (November 14, 2002). "Miss Cleo Settles for $500 Million". News. Washington, DC: ConsumerAffairs.com Inc. Retrieved March 1, 2010.
- "FTC Charges "Miss Cleo" Promoters with Deceptive Advertising, Billing and Collection Practices – Federal Trade Commission". Retrieved July 26, 2016.
- Christopher, Kevin (March – April 2003). "'Miss Cleo' settles with the Federal Trade Commission – News and Comment". 27 (2). Skeptical Inquirer. p. 8. Archived from the original on November 21, 2015. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
- Clary, Mike (August 26, 2015). "Psychic network accuses cereal maker of infringing on 'Miss Cleo' copyright". SunSentinel. Retrieved January 16, 2016.
- Reed, Chris (September 12, 2014). "The 11 Best GTA Supporting Characters". Retrieved March 2, 2016.
- Rogers, Katie (July 26, 2016). "Youree Dell Harris, the TV Psychic Miss Cleo, Dies at 53". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
- Cleo, Miss (2001). Keepin' It Real: A Practical Guide for Spiritual Living. Radar Communications. ISBN 0-9715399-0-1.
- Rush and Molloy (November 30, 2003). "Schumer $andbagging friends of AG?". New York Daily News. Section:"Unde-Fuse-able feud". Archived from the original on December 5, 2003. Retrieved January 8, 2008.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link) CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- "Drink and Scoot!". Broward-Palm Beach New Times. February 5, 2005. Section: "Call Me, Darlin'". Retrieved January 8, 2008.
- Editor, Cavan Sieczkowski Senior; Strategy, Content; Post, The Huffington (May 3, 2014). "The Elusive 'Psychic' Ms. Cleo Talks About Coming Out". Retrieved July 26, 2016.
- "Episode 07: The Psychic". Swindled | A true crime podcast about white-collar criminals, con artists, and corporate evil. December 1, 2018. Retrieved April 28, 2019.