Mercado – born in Ponce, Puerto Rico on March 9, 1932 and also known as Shanti Ananda – was a stage performer before he turned to astrology. During a production of the play Critico del amor, dolor y muerte, he unexpectedly needed to fill in on a segment on Telemundo, which is where his persona was born. He built a following in Puerto Rico before becoming successful across Latin America and the United States.
And while he was no longer showing up regularly on people’s television, he was still a much-beloved figure. When Puerto Ricans went out to protest Governor Ricardo Rosselló, Mercado backed them up and told him it was time to leave. When President Donald Trump ran for president, Mercado denounced what the demagogue said about immigrants. And in August, when HistoryMiami Museum held an exhibition in his honor – aptly titled Mucho, Mucho Amor: 50 Years of Walter Mercado – people were genuinely excited to see his capes, jewelry and more on display.
As the news of his death spreads, many are paying tribute to the icon on social media. Check out a few reactions below.