Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado
Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado is a 2020 documentary film about the life and career of Walter Mercado, one of the most influential and important astrologists in Latin America and the world. The documentary, directed by Cristina Costantini and Kareem Tabsch, features interviews with Mercado himself, his assistant Willy Acosta, the Mercado Salinas family, among many other public figures of Latino entertainment and television. The film premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and was released on Netflix on July 8, 2020.
|Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado|
Documentary's Netflix poster
|Music by||Jeff Morrow|
|Edited by||Tom Maroney|
The documentary accounts Walter Mercado's early life as a gifted child in Puerto Rico in the 1930s, living in a rural area of sugar cane plantations with his family. While his brother, Henry, was away working with their father, Walter stayed at home with his mother, where he played piano and read books, inspiring himself to become a creative person. During his time as a student of the University of Puerto Rico in the 1950s, he began dancing and acting in theater, later moving on to acting roles in telenovelas. After a impromptu astrology segment in a TV show, requested by its producer Elín Ortiz, Walter had his first big break on television as an astrologer, which would later on bring him his first TV show and rise to fame locally in Puerto Rico and then with international audiences, after Bill Bakula became his manager. Walter went on to perform his astrology segments and shows with elaborate costumes and capes, with flamboyant colors and styles. At the same time, he faced homophobia towards his flamboyant and androgynous image, which has led many to question his sexuality, something he had always reluctantly declined to address.
At one point in his life, Walter was also involved in the Psychic Friends Network telephone hotline. His career took a turn when Walter signed an overlooked contract that gave away the rights his name, likeness, image, printed works and media, both past and future, over to Bill Bakula's company, which cost Mercado a six-year legal battle to win back, dissolving their professional relationship. After winning back the rights to use his name, Walter suffered a heart attack due to the stress suffered during his legal battle and had his last television appearance on October 3, 2006. Death, spiritualism and religions are themes that Walter has discussed countlessly through his career, including reincarnation, life after death and theology.
Walter, with his nieces Ivonne and Betty, and his assistant Willy, visits the historic Teatro La Perla, in Ponce, reminiscing about the many theater productions he starred and performed there. Back in San Juan, Walter is visited by Lin-Manuel Miranda and his father, both long-time admirers of Mercado, in January 2019, when Hamilton was premiering in Puerto Rico. After Miranda posted a photo of him and Mercado on his social accounts, many long-time Walter Mercado fans were surprised after learning he was still alive, even after years out of the public eye. Walter Mercado's fame became a relevant cult-following among millennials, spawning memes, pop art, clothing and drinks with his name or image.
In May 2019, the HistoryMiami Museum invited Walter to an exhibition, celebrating his life and honoring his fifty years of professional career as an astrologer. After a professional photoshoot for the exhibition and one week before opening night, Walter fell out of his bed and then slip and fell in his bathroom, fracturing a rib and part of the dorsal vertebrae of his spine, however, he quickly recovers and is able to travel to Miami with his family. Prior to opening night, Walter participates in a press junket to promote the exhibition, later joining his guests and fans as the night's honoree the following day, in what would be his final public appearance, three months before his death on November 2, 2019.
The film is dedicated to the filmmakers' grandmothers and all grandmothers in the world.
- Walter Mercado, astrologist
- Lin-Manuel Miranda, actor and playwright
- Eugenio Derbez, actor
- Willy Acosta, Walter's longtime assistant
- Raúl De Molina, host of El Gordo y La Flaca
- Nydia Caro, singer
- Ivonne Benet Mercado, Walter's niece
- Betty Benet Mercado, Walter's niece
- Dannette Benet Mercado, Walter's niece
- Aida "Bibi" Benet Mercado, Walter's niece
- Carmen Mercado, Walter's niece
- Charito Mercado, Walter's niece
- Guillermo "Bill" Bakula, Walter's former manager
- Tony Hernández, radio producer
- María López Álvarez, creator of Primer Impacto
- Mireya Lucio, witch
- Karlo Karlo, LGBTQ activist
- Mauricio Zeilic, television host and Walter's colleague
- Jody Vialy, Walter's former publicist
- Carlos Velásquez, Walter's former attorney
- Wilma Torres, Walter's secretary
- Luis A. Miranda, Jr., Lin-Manuel Miranda's father
- Curly Velásquez, actor and influencer
- María Gladys García, Curly's grandmother
- Matt Kuscher, owner of Stephen's Deli
- Bobby Gilardi, bartender of Ariete
- Jesse Mercado
- Jorge Ramos, journalist
- Runo, Walter's dog
Appearances via archival interviewsEdit
The film holds a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 53 reviews with an average rating of 7.93/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "An absorbing and affectionate tribute to a unique individual, Mucho Mucho Amor should prove fascinating for Walter Mercado fans as well as first-timers."
- "'Mucho Mucho Amor' lifts spirits with inspiring story of Walter Mercado". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 2020-07-08.
- "Mucho Mucho Amor". Sundance Festival. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
- "'Mucho Mucho Amor' Review: The Life of Walter Mercado, Mystic". The New York Times. Retrieved 2020-07-08.
- Villafañe, Veronica (July 7, 2020). "What Happened To Walter Mercado? Netflix Doc 'Mucho, Mucho Amor" Reveals Story Behind Star Astrologer". Forbes. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
- "Mucho Mucho Amor (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 27, 2020.