Walter Mercado, Legendary Puerto Rican Astrologer, Dead at 88
Walter Mercado, the popular astrologer who endeared himself to millions of Hispanic television viewers for more than three decades, died Saturday in Puerto Rico. He was 87.
A spokesperson for the Auxilio Mutuo Hospital in San Juan confirmed Mercado’s death with The Associated Press and said he died from kidney failure.
Mercado was well-known across Latin America and in the United States for his horoscope readings and predictions.
His career as an astrologer began by chance when he was asked to fill in on a whim for a Telemundo program in 1969. Prior to becoming an iconic psychic, Mercado worked as an actor and dancer.
Mercado’s reading of the horoscope was a hit and in 1970 he began his regular broadcast segment reading horoscopes and offering predictions for Telemundo Puerto Rico, according to The Miami Herald.
The way in which Mercado delivered his predictions was just as beloved by his fans as the messages themselves. Mercado was a fan of grand colorful robes and outfits accented with gems and brooches that dazzled. With his trilled “r’s” and dramatic readings, Mercado made an art form out of his work.
His broadcasts reached an estimated 120 million Latino viewers daily for more than three decades. Mercado’s flamboyant character stood out in contrast to much of what was being broadcast across Latin America television at that time.
At the end of his program, Mercado would sign off by saying “Pero sobre todo, mucho, mucho, mucho amor” — “Above all, much, much, much love.”
Mercado was a syndicated writer for the Miami Herald.
He was not without a few legal battles.
In 1998, he got in trouble for endorsing alleged health and beauty products and was named in a class-action lawsuit that accused him of misleading people into buying beads with supposed special powers. The president of the jewelry company, Unique Gems International Corp., was later sentenced to 14 years in prison for defrauding 16,000 people in a $90 million scam.
In October 2010, Mercado announced he was changing his name to “Shanti Ananda.” That same year, he stopped shooting his segment for the Univision Spanish-language TV channel. Months later, he began to deliver daily horoscopes through El Nuevo Herald newspaper in Miami.