Walter Mercado
Born
Walter Mercado Salinas

(1932-03-09)9 March 1932[1][2][3]
Died2 November 2019(2019-11-02) (aged 87)
Resting placeSeñorial Memorial Park, Cupey, San Juan, Puerto Rico
NationalityPuerto Rican
EducationUniversity of Puerto Rico
Known for
MovementSanford Meisner
AwardsMr. Televisión (N.Y.C.)
Señor Televisión (D.R.)
Websitewww.waltermercado.com

Walter Mercado Salinas[1][a] (9 March 1932 – 2 November 2019),[1][2][3] also known by his stage name Shanti Ananda, was a Puerto Rican astrologer, actor, dancer, and writer, best known as a television personality for his shows as an astrologer. His astrological predictions shows aired for decades in Puerto Rico, Latin America and the United States.

Early years

Mercado was born on 9 March 1932,[3] in Ponce, Puerto Rico,[3] where he spent his early childhood. His parents were José María Mercado, from San Germán, Puerto Rico, and Aída Salinas from Catalonia, Spain.[2] Mercado believed that he had spiritual abilities, even as a child.[4] He attended university majoring in pedagogy, psychology and pharmacy, and used these skills to teach others, to study the human mind and to learn about the healing properties of medicinal plants.[5]

Professional career

Dancing

Mercado Salinas studied singing and had a talent for dancing. He also studied classical and modern ballet. He was one of the most prolific dancers in Puerto Rico.[5] He was the dancing partner of comedian Velda González.[5]

Acting

Walter Mercado worked as an actor in the Puerto Rican telenovelas Un adiós en el recuerdo (A Farewell to the Memory) and Larga distancia (Long Distance), and also had a dramatic arts school called Walter Actors Studio 64.[5][6]

Astrology

I always give the touch of love and they call me the Walter of Miracles

Walter Mercado to WLRN[7]

His TV debut as an entertainer came when Puerto Rican producer Elín Ortíz invited him to perform on his TV show when one guest artist did not show up. Walter Mercado happened to be at the station and Ortiz asked Mercado to use the 15-minute allotment scheduled for the other guest, to make astrological predictions wearing colorful and extravagant robes. After that, Mercado was made a regular in the show making astrological predictions.[5] He would frequently appear in heavily-decorated costumes and capes.[8]

In 1970, Mercado started his regular astrology segment in El Show de las 12. He enhanced his studies with formal study into astrology, tarot, and other occult disciplines. Mercado hosted a weekly astrology television show at WKAQ-TV, Channel 2/Telemundo. After several years, when the network changed its programming, Mercado moved his show to WRIK-TV (channel 7 in Ponce) where he hosted it for many years.[5] Westinghouse was a steady and long-time sponsor.[2] In the 1980s, his show was seen on several TV channels throughout Latin America and the United States.[5] When Tommy Muñiz bought WRIK-TV, Mercado stayed for two years then moved his show to WKBM-TV, Channel 11/Tele Once (later renamed WLII-TV/Univision). In addition to the TV programs, Mercado also wrote his predictions for newspapers, magazines, and web pages. He was a syndicated writer in the Miami Herald.[2] He also appeared on various radio segments.[5]

In 1986, Mercado was awarded the title Mr. Televisión by the Asociación de Cronistas del Espectáculo de Nueva York (Association of Latin Entertainment Critics of New York). By the end of the 1980s, Mercado had authored seven books, of which one, Más allá del horizonte (Beyond the Horizon), was published in three languages (Spanish, English and Portuguese).[5]

From the mid 1990s until 2010, Mercado's show aired in the Univision network throughout the Americas, but on 8 January 2010, after a fifteen-year relationship, he announced that he and Univision had parted ways.[9] He was managed by entrepreneur Bill Bakula.[10] In 2005, he was invited to appear on Welsh singer/songwriter Lisa Scott-Lee’s show Totally Scott-Lee to give her a special reading.[11] From 1994 to 2009, he also appeared on Primer Impacto, which airs on the Univision network in the United States.

In 2014, Walter Mercado established a business partnership with Entertainment Events AZ, a Phoenix-based marketing and mobile application Development Company. In 2014 he introduced his dating site ww.passionlatinos.com and his "Línea Cautivadora", which consists of Zodiac Soaps, body lotions, body mists, aromatic candles, and beaded jewelry.[12] On 2 February 2015, Walter Mercado and Entertainment Events AZ launched www.waltermercado.com. The site was developed to allow Mercado's millions of fans an opportunity to hear their daily horoscopes, get tarot readings, zodiac compatibility, predictions and ask Walter Mercado questions.[13] His www.waltermercado.com website received over 1 million visits in the first month.[14]

In May 2015, Walter Mercado and Entertainment Events AZ launched mobile applications for IOS (iTunes) and the Android market. In less than two months the applications were ranked #2 in Mexico for entertainment applications and 144th in the United States.[15][16] In October 2015, Mercado announced his 2016 predictions available on his official website, waltermercado.com.[17]

Mercado continued to do public appearances[18] while his www.passionlatinos.com and www.waltermercado.com web property and mobile applications are managed by Entertainment Events AZ.

Name change

In October 2010, Mercado changed his name to "Shanti Ananda", a translation in Sanskrit of "peace happiness."[19] He says a "being of light" imparted a spiritual revelation to him, which he refers to as his "authentic mystic name."

Legal challenge

In January 2012, Mercado lost a lawsuit against Bart Enterprises International, which he was trying to prevent from using his name and likeness in future commercial ventures. Mercado signed a contract with the company in 1995. He severed ties with the company in 2006, which resulted in litigation being filed by both parties against each other. Chief Judge Sandra Lynch of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that Bart Enterprises can continue using Mercado's name and likeness in future commercial projects.[1] When asked about his legal case over the rights to his name he replied, "I worked for many years, and gave some releases without thinking much about human wickedness."[20][21]

Personal life

In 2003 he announced that he maintained a "spiritual relationship" with the Brazilian actress and dancer Mariette Detotto, with whom he shared a TV program. He always maintained his residence in Puerto Rico.[5]

Decline in health and death

In January 2012, Mercado was flown to Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, with cardiac problems.[20][21] He said he "had gone and seen death and came back to life again". Since the experience he said he had changed. He said he wanted to work with Puerto Rican youth, he planned to establish the Shanti Ananda foundation, create a mystic center, and donated three of his capes to a museum. Most of his capes had already been sold at auctions.[20][21]

Señorial Memorial Park, Cupey, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Mercado died on the night of Saturday, 2 November 2019, reportedly from kidney failure, at Auxilio Mutuo Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico, according to hospital spokeswoman Sofia Luquis. He was 87.[22] He is buried at Señorial Memorial Park in Cupey barrio, San Juan, Puerto Rico.[23]

Accolades