Psychic/astrologist/wowlebrity/fashion icon Walter Mercado (star of ¡Viva Hollywood!) died Saturday in Puerto Rico. He was 87.
Sofía Luquis, a spokeswoman for the Auxilio Mutuo Hospital in San Juan, confirmed Mercado’s death with The Associated Press and said he died from kidney failure.
Mercado’s career as an astrologer began by chance in 1969, when the unknown actor/dancer was asked – on a whim – to fill in for a Telemundo program in 1969.
His horoscope reading on the show was a surprise hit and the next year he began a regular broadcast segment reading horoscopes and offering predictions for Telemundo Puerto Rico. His flamboyant robes and penchant for big jewels endeared him to a kabillion abuelas in the latin community, reaching an estimated 120 million viewers daily for more than three decades. NPR notes that “his 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,” or “Above all, much, much, much love.”
Speaking about his style with The Miami Herald, Mercado once said, “I have always liked to speak to people very directly. I have used astrology to send positive messages: ‘You can do it, even if you fall, get back up again.'”
(Bottom photo: Avalon)