Miss Cleo

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Miss Cleo
Youree Dell Harris

(1962-08-12)August 12, 1962
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
DiedJuly 26, 2016(2016-07-26) (aged 53)
Other namesCleomili Harris, Youree Perris
OccupationTelevision personality
Known forPhone/TV psychic

Youree Dell Harris (August 12, 1962 – July 26, 2016) was an American television personality and actress best known for portraying Miss Cleo, a spokeswoman for a psychic pay-per-call-minute service called Psychic Readers Network, in a series of television commercials that aired from 1997 to 2003.[2] Harris used various aliases, including Ree Perris, Youree Cleomili, Youree Dell Harris, Youree Perris, Rae Dell Harris, Cleomili Perris Youree, and Cleomili Harris.[3]

Early life[edit]

Youree Harris was born on August 12, 1962,[4] at Los Angeles County Hospital to Alisa Teresa Hopis[5] and David Harris, and raised in a Catholic Afro-Caribbean family.[6] She attended, as a boarder, Ramona Convent Secondary School,[7] a Catholic girls' school in Alhambra, California.[5][8]

Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Dorothy Parvaz reported that University of Southern California found no records that Harris had enrolled for four classes in 1980, as reported by People magazine.[3][9][10]



In 1996, Harris as "Ree Perris", wrote a play entitled For Women Only, playing a Jamaican woman named "Cleo", in Seattle.[3]

In 1997, Harris as "Ree Perris", produced and performed two plays with the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center in Seattle, Summer Rhapsody and Supper Club Cafe.[3]

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.[3] 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.[3]

Psychic Readers Network[edit]

In January 1993,[11] Steven Feder and Peter Stolz (sometimes spelled: Stotz[5] Stoltz[12] Stolz[13]) started Psychic Advisors Network,[11] launched to compete with Psychic Friends Network using Philip Michael Thomas,[11] Billy Dee Williams[11] and Catherine Oxenberg.[14]

In 1997, Harris moved to Florida, met Steven Feder and Peter Stolz, Fort Lauderdale cousins behind Access Resource Services,[15] doing business as Psychic Readers Network and took a call-taker job as reader No. 16153.[16][15] Harris was using the Jamaican accent when she moved to Florida and began working as a tarot-reading psychic for a telemarketing center.[9] Harris was approached by Access Resource Services while working at an event in a Pompano Beach, Florida, mall and agreed to appear in an ad in 2000.[9]

"the whole point was two things: keeping people on the phone as long as possible...and...telling people what they wanted to hear"[17]

In the late 1990s, Harris began work for the Psychic Readers Network under the name Cleo. She appeared as a television infomercial psychic in which she claimed to be a shaman from Jamaica.[8][18] Her employers' website also stated that Harris had been born in Trelawny, Jamaica, and grown up there.[6]

The network used the title "Miss Cleo" and sent unsolicited emails,[19] 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 network began to surface around this time.[20] 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.[8][21]

A tie-in book, Keepin' It Real: A Practical Guide for Spiritual Living appeared in 2001. Its authorship was attributed to Miss Cleo.[22][23]

In 2001, Access Resource Services,[6] doing business as Psychic Readers Network, was sued in various lawsuits originating in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas,[24] Missouri,[25][26] New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida and elsewhere, as well as the Federal Communications Commission,[27][28]

In 2002, the Federal Trade Commission charged the company's owners and Harris' promoters, Steven Feder and Peter Stolz, with deceptive advertising, billing, and collection practices; Harris was not indicted.[29] The network had billed its victims for an estimated $1 billion.[28] Her promoters agreed to settle by erasing $500 million of debt owed by its victims to the network and paying a $5 million fine to the Federal Trade Commission.[30][28] It emerged during a lawsuit in Florida that Harris had been born in Los Angeles, and that her parents were American citizens.[28]

The state of Florida also sued Harris under a provision of the law that allowed spokespeople to be held liable. Dave Aronberg of the Florida Attorney General’s Office led the state’s case against her. His successor dropped the charges.[16]

After Psychic Readers Network[edit]

On 11 July 2001, Harris started a company, Waghwaan Entertainment.[7][31]

Harris voiced the character of Auntie Poulet in the 2002 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.[32][33]

In 2003, the New York Daily News reported that TV music network Fuse had signed Harris as a spokeswoman.[34] 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.[35]

Harris offered "readings", priced from $75 to $250, and "weddings", priced from $350 and up.[36] Harris had a podcast.[37]

In September 2007, Harris released a spoken-word CD, Convicted for My Beliefs.[38]

Under the name Cleomili Harris she spoke, from Toronto,[39] about her experiences at the Psychic Readers Network in the 2014 documentary Hotline, which focuses on the history of telephone hotlines.[39][22][40][41]

Psychic Readers Network's "Miss Cleo" lawsuits[edit]

In 2015, as Miss Cleo, Harris appeared in a series of advertisements for the General Mills breakfast cereal French Toast Crunch. The Psychic Readers Network sued on the basis that they owned the character of Miss Cleo. The advertisements were discontinued.[21]

The Psychic Readers Network sued Benefit Cosmetics, a Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey subsidiary, for using Harris as "Miss Cleo" in a makeup commercial, as the persona's owner.[42][43][44]

Personal life and death[edit]

Harris married at age 19, gave birth to a daughter, and divorced at age 21. She had a second daughter while in her late 20s.[8] In 2006, she came out as a lesbian.[8]

Harris developed colorectal cancer, which metastasized. She died under hospice care in Palm Beach, Florida, on July 26, 2016, at the age of 53.[22]

In December 2022, HBO Max released a feature documentary about Harris' life titled Call Me Miss Cleo.[45]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Miss Cleo on The Jenny Jones Show
  2. ^ "Miss Cleo's A Valley Girl". The Smoking Gun. March 14, 2002. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Parvaz, Dorothy (March 2, 2002). "Miss Cleo left a trail of deception in Seattle". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved November 18, 2006.
  4. ^ "Youree D Harris, Born on August 12, 1962 in Los Angeles County, California". CaliforniaBirthIndex.org. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  5. ^ a b c Strouse, Chuck; Swanson, Jess. "Miss Cleo, Famed Fortuneteller, Dead at 53 Years Old". New Times Broward-Palm Beach. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  6. ^ a b c Respers France, Lisa (July 26, 2016). "'Miss Cleo,' TV psychic network pitchwoman, dies". CNN.com. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  7. ^ a b Gaines, Jim. "Old-School Psychic". New Times Broward-Palm Beach. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Miss Cleo Comes Out". Advocate.com. September 25, 2006. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  9. ^ a b c Rogers, Patrick; Morrissey, Siobhan; Stambler, Lyndon; Bonawitz, Amy (March 3, 2003). "Say It Ain't So, Cleo". People.com. Archived from the original on September 21, 2015. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  10. ^ Rogers, Patrick; Hogan, Kate (July 27, 2016). "The Truth About Miss Cleo: How a Privileged Girl from L.A. Became a Psychic Sensation". people.com. yahoo news. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  11. ^ a b c d Gaines, Jim. "Pop Culture Phenomenon Miss Cleo Remains a Mystery". New Times Broward-Palm Beach. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  12. ^ 2002-c-1415 - Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt
  13. ^ "2 MISS CLEO EXECUTIVES ENTER 'NO CONTEST' PLEAS". Sun Sentinel. October 3, 2002. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  14. ^ Bean, Matt (January 17, 2002). "Seeing the future—or just dollar signs?". Court TV. Archived from the original on October 17, 2002. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  15. ^ a b Wortham, Jenna (December 21, 2016). "Miss Cleo Went From Joke to Legend". The New York Times. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  16. ^ a b "Former 'Psychic Network' Miss Cleo content with life away from TV". Spokesman.com. April 4, 2009. Archived from the original on April 9, 2009. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  17. ^ Barthel, Rebecca (September 27, 2012). "It Happened To Me: I Was a Telephone Psychic For Miss Cleo". xoJane. Archived from the original on September 29, 2012. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  18. ^ "Actress who played TV psychic Miss Cleo dies of cancer at 53". Chicago Tribune. Associated Press. July 26, 2016. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  19. ^ "Phone psychics' scam follows script". Erie Times-News. December 1, 2001. p. 2.
  20. ^ Lithwick, Dahlia (March 26, 2002). "With Psychics Like These…: The lawsuits pile up for Miss Cleo". Slate.com. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  21. ^ a b "Youree Dell Harris, who played Jamaican psychic 'Miss Cleo' in TV ads, dies at 53". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  22. ^ a b c 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.
  23. ^ Miss Cleo (2001). Keepin' It Real: A Practical Guide for Spiritual Living. Radar Communications. ISBN 0-9715399-0-1.
  24. ^ "Kansas investigating Miss Cleo's 'psychic hotline'". LJWorld.com. September 27, 2001. Archived from the original on December 5, 2006. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  25. ^ "'Miss Cleo' corporations cut a deal". UPI. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  26. ^ "Missouri sues company behind TV psychic Miss Cleo". CNN. Archived from the original on September 25, 2010. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  27. ^ "Access Resource Services, Inc. et al". Federal Trade Commission. February 14, 2002. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  28. ^ a b c d "Miss Cleo Settles for $500 Million". ConsumerAffairs.com. Consumers Unified LLC. November 14, 2002. Archived from the original on April 21, 2003. Retrieved March 1, 2010. Consumers Unified, LLC d/b/a ConsumerAffairs.com ("we" or "us") is a licensed mortgage broker, where applicable by law, with its principal place of business located at 600 East 4th Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74120.
  29. ^ "FTC Charges "Miss Cleo" Promoters with Deceptive Advertising, Billing and Collection Practices". FTC.gov. Federal Trade Commission. February 14, 2002. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  30. ^ Christopher, Kevin (March–April 2003). "'Miss Cleo' settles with the Federal Trade Commission – News and Comment". Skeptical Inquirer. Vol. 27, no. 2. p. 8. Archived from the original on November 21, 2015. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  31. ^ "Cleo's Tarot, Pyschic and Astrology Lines". misscleo-psychic.com. Total Telcom Media. Archived from the original on February 1, 2001. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  32. ^ Clary, Mike (August 26, 2015). "Psychic network accuses cereal maker of infringing on 'Miss Cleo' copyright". SunSentinel. Retrieved January 16, 2016.
  33. ^ Reed, Chris (September 12, 2014). "The 11 Best GTA Supporting Characters". IGN.com. Archived from the original on September 13, 2014. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  34. ^ Rush, George; Molloy, Joanna (November 30, 2003). "Unde-Fuse-able feud". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on December 5, 2003. Retrieved January 8, 2008.
  35. ^ "Drink and Scoot!". Broward-Palm Beach New Times. February 5, 2005. Section: "Call Me, Darlin'". Retrieved January 8, 2008.
  36. ^ "Special Services". The Real Ms. Cleo. 2008. Archived from the original on February 21, 2009. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  37. ^ "Conversations with Cleo". Archived from the original on May 5, 2014. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  38. ^ Cunningham, Jonathan. "Miss Cleo, This Time for Real". New Times Broward-Palm Beach. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  39. ^ a b Sowunmi, Jordan (April 30, 2014). "Miss Cleo on Her Allegedly Fake Patois and Getting Ripped Off By the Psychic Readers Network". vice.com. Archived from the original on May 2, 2014. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  40. ^ Sieczkowski, Cavan (May 3, 2014). "The Elusive 'Psychic' Ms. Cleo Talks About Coming Out". The Huffington Post. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  41. ^ Hot Docs Fest. "Hot Docs Trailers 2014: HOTLINE". youtube. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  42. ^ Allison, Wayne (October 11, 2016). "Louis Vuitton's Benefit Cosmetics Sued Over "Miss Cleo"". Allison Legal Law Firm. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  43. ^ Joseph, Samantha (October 10, 2016). "Louis Vuitton's Benefit Cosmetics Sued Over Use of 'Miss Cleo'". Daily Business Review. American Lawyer Media. Archived from the original on December 26, 2022. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  44. ^ Walano, Rose (April 1, 2015). "Real Thing: The Glorious Miss Cleo Is Now Working a Compliments Hotline!". Us Weekly. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  45. ^ Schager, Nick (December 13, 2022). "'Call Me Miss Cleo' Goes Way Too Easy on the Scamming TV Psychic". The Daily Beast. Retrieved December 18, 2022.

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