MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A new Netflix documentary chronicling the life of famed TV astrologer Walter Mercado is streaming now.
Though he was well-known in South Florida for his colorful capes and extravagant jewelry, there are a lot of people who did not know about this international superstar.
Mercado died last November, but in his final years, he opened up his home and his heart to a documentary film crew with Miami ties.
“If you’re Latino, you kind of took him for granted because he was such a ubiquitous part of the culture,” explained co-director and Miami native Kareem Tabsch. “You loved him. You always loved him. But Walter is larger than all of it. He kind of transcends boundaries and cultures. We’re so excited that after 50 + years of having him to ourselves we are now able to share him with a wide audience.”
Tabsch and co-director Cristina Costantini, along with producer Alex Fumero brought the project to life.
All three have fond memories of watching Walter since childhood.
“Getting dropped off at my Abuela’s house in Westchester and just getting violently shushed when he was on TV,” Fumero recalls. “He was just a mystifying wizard and I wanted to know how he got on the TV and then what happened to him.”
“I watched Walter with my grandmother almost every day whenever she would babysit me,” explained Costantini, who grew up in Wisconsin. “I would sit on her lap and this magical wizard would come on. And I was obsessed. I couldn’t look away.”
In 2017, Fumero and Tabsch were discussing Mercado’s estate sale when, as Walter would probably say, the stars aligned.
“The afternoon the Kareem and I were going to talk about his contact with Walter’s family, Cristina calls me 30 minutes before that call and says ‘I heard you’re obsessed with Walter Mercado. I want to make a movie about him,'” Fumero said. I was like, this is some weird cosmic situation. It must be Walter in the stars organizing this. I think we should all do this together. And I introduced them. And to their credit, like an arranged marriage, they decided to make it together without knowing each other.”
“Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado” paints an intimate portrait of the man whose TV persona was larger than life.
From humble beginnings as a frail child in Puerto Rico to worldwide fame that happened almost by accident, the documentary explores Mercado’s magnetism and why he vanished from the public eye years ago.
“I think the surprising thing you’ll find is the Walter you see on TV isn’t too different from the Walter when the television is off,” Tabsch said. “He’s very sincere. Very loving. and passionate. He gives off this energy of peace and love and calmness. He always makes you feel like you’re the most important person in the world.”
CBS 4 Anchor Lauren Pastrana witnessed that firsthand.
She interviewed Mercado last August when some of his capes, jewelry, and other precious mementos were on exhibit at History Miami Museum.
It was his first public appearance in more than a decade.
“I feel so grateful to the people here in the museum because they are going to touch a little of my essence,” Mercado told Pastrana at the time.
A snippet of that conversation actually made it into the documentary.
Mercado asked to ready Pastrana’s palm, and even she couldn’t resist his charms.
“You love what you do,” Mercado told her. “You love your work. For you, it’s quite important to do the best in your work. You used to be a little stubborn when you want something, you are very stubborn. But life makes you now to change. And now you’re more flexible. More adaptable.”
He didn’t make any grand claims about Pastrana’s future.
That was never his style.
In fact, he never usually said anything negative in his horoscopes, opting instead to spread hope, positivity, and yes, lots and lots of love.
“We need more of him right now. It comes down to that,” Costantini said. “There’s so much hatred. There’s so much division nowadays that Walter’s energy is infectious and I think it’s resonating with people which is incredible.”
Mercado died just a few weeks after the crew wrapped filming.
The documentary is streaming now.