Tammy Faye Messner
American evangelist
Tammy Faye Messner
Tamara Faye LaValley Bakker Messner was an American Christian singer, evangelist, entrepreneur, author, talk show host, and television personality. She was married to televangelist, and later convicted felon, Jim Bakker (1961–92). She co-hosted with him on The PTL Club (1976–87). She was a participant in the 2004 season of the reality show The Surreal Life.
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  • 2007
    Age 64
    On July 19, 2007, Tammy Faye made another appearance on CNN's Larry King Live in what turned out to be her final interview (she died the following day, just hours after the broadcast).
    More Details Hide Details At the time, she said she weighed 65 pounds and was unable to eat solid food. Messner's husband would later say that he believed that she chose to do the interview to say a final goodbye to her fans.
    Another musical following the life of Tammy Faye, titled Big Tent, debuted May 23, 2007 at Off-Broadway's New World Stages, in New York City.
    More Details Hide Details The show features music and lyrics by Ben Cohn, Sean McDaniel, a book by Jeffery Self, and direction by Ryan J. Davis. A star-studded concert of songs from the show opened February 18, 2008 at New York's Metropolitan Room. A play following the final hours of Tammy Faye, "Tammy Faye's Final Audition" by Merri Biechler, premiered at the Cincinnati Fringe Festival on June 2, 2015. The play takes place in a fevered dream at the end of her life wherein she enlists the men in her life for one final TV talk show audition.
    According to CNN.com, the family requested that King officially report the news of her death on July 21, 2007.
    More Details Hide Details Her remains were cremated, and her ashes were returned to Waldron Cemetery where they were subsequently buried. In June 2006, a stage musical titled The Gospel According to Tammy Faye opened at the Cincinnati Fringe Festival and was subsequently developed as a larger professional production. The show features songs by J. T. Buck and a book by Fernando Dovalina. The musical is described as a fantasia which takes a balanced and fair look at its subject. The impetus for the show was provided by a lengthy interview that Messner gave the authors in March 2005. The musical aired on August 2006 in Portland, Oregon, and Hood River, Oregon, it was presented on stage at Houston's Alley Theatre at the end of July 2007 under the direction of Les R. Wood. Industry readings presented by the Columbia Gorge Repertory Company were held at the Manhattan Theatre Club in December 2007 the cast including Tony nominee Sally Mayes and veteran Broadway performers William Youmans, Ken Land, Julie Foldesi, James T. Lane and Heather Parcells. The readings were directed by Mindy Cooper. Seth Farber provided musical direction.
    On July 20, 2007, Messner died after 11 years with cancer.
    More Details Hide Details What had started as colon cancer had spread to her lungs. She died in her home, said her publicist, Joe Spotts. A family service was held on the morning of July 21, 2007, in the Messner family plot in Waldron, Kansas. The ceremony was officiated by the Rev. Randy McCain, the pastor of Open Door Community Church in Sherwood, Arkansas. She had frequently spoken about her medical problems, saying she hoped to be an inspiration to others. "Don't let fear rule your life," she said. "Live one day at a time, and never be afraid." She had written on her website in May that the doctors had stopped trying to treat the cancer. She died the day after the airing of her interview on Larry King Live on CNN.
    On May 8, 2007, she issued a statement on her website saying that chemotherapy had stopped, but urging her fans to continue to pray for her.
    More Details Hide Details The story was reported on NBC's The Today Show on May 11, and a feature in which fans and well-wishers could post get-well messages to Tammy was added to her website. As of July 2007, over 228 pages of wishes had been received.
  • 2006
    Age 63
    Tammy Faye was a guest by phone on CNN's Larry King Live on December 15, 2006, and stated that she was receiving hospice care in her home.
    More Details Hide Details Tammy Faye appeared in her son Jay's documentary series One Punk Under God, wherein she and Jay talked about her cancer treatments. In one episode, Tammy Faye required the use of oxygen in order to talk.
    As her health continued to worsen, a "Talk of the Town" article in the October 2, 2006, issue of The New Yorker stated that she was dying in hospice care, and a December 10, 2006, article in Walter Scott's column in Parade reported that her son Jay was "at a North Carolina hospice with his mom, is gravely ill with colon cancer".
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    On March 13, 2006, she appeared again on Larry King Live and stated that she was continuing to suffer from lung cancer, which had reached stage 4, and that she was continuing to receive treatment for it.
    More Details Hide Details She also mentioned having difficulty swallowing food, suffering from panic attacks, and enduring substantial weight loss.
  • 2005
    Age 62
    It was on King's program again that she announced, on July 20, 2005, that her cancer had returned.
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  • 2004
    Age 61
    A 2004 television documentary of her struggle with cancer was produced in 2004.
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    On November 30, 2004, also on Larry King Live, she announced that she was cancer free once again.
    More Details Hide Details She described the details of her chemotherapy and continued to appear regularly on King's show.
    She continued receiving chemotherapy throughout mid-2004.
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    On March 19, 2004, Tammy Faye made an appearance on Larry King Live and announced that she had inoperable lung cancer and would soon begin chemotherapy.
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    In early 2004, she appeared on the second season of the VH1 reality television series The Surreal Life.
    More Details Hide Details The show chronicled a twelve-day period wherein she, Ron Jeremy, Vanilla Ice, Traci Bingham, Erik Estrada and Trishelle Cannatella lived together in a Los Angeles house and were assigned various tasks and activities. Together, the six put on a children's play and managed a restaurant for a day. She also attended a book signing for her best-seller, I Will Survive... And You Will Too. At the end of the show, Messner said she thought of Vanilla Ice and Trishelle Cannatella as children and could relate to them deeply because she had similar feelings and problems when she was their age. She described porn star Jeremy as "a nice man." Tammy Faye's 11 years with cancer was highly publicized. She was first diagnosed with colon cancer in March 1996, and the disease went into remission by the end of that year.
  • 2003
    Age 60
    On September 11, 2003, she published a new autobiography, I Will Survive... and You Will, Too! (ISBN 1585422428), in which she described her battles with cancer and her life with Messner.
    More Details Hide Details In 2005, she appeared in an infomercial for alternative medicine promoter Kevin Trudeau. On her site, Tammyfaye.com she credits green supplements as a helpful part of her initial colon cancer remission. Despite her background in Christian fundamentalism, Tammy Faye became a gay icon after her parting from PTL, appearing in Gay Pride marches with such figures as Lady Bunny and Bruce Vilanch. Messner reached out to support gay Americans with HIV/AIDS when it was still a much feared and unknown disease. She was benevolently referred to as "the ultimate drag queen," and said in her last interview with Larry King that, "When I went — when we lost everything, it was the gay people that came to my rescue, and I will always love them for that."
  • 1996
    Age 53
    She appeared twice on The Drew Carey Show in 1996 and 1999, playing the mother of character Mimi Bobeck (Kathy Kinney), who was also known for wearing excessive amounts of makeup.
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    In 1996 she wrote her autobiography, Tammy: Telling It My Way (ISBN 0679445153), and she co-hosted a TV talk show titled The Jim J. and Tammy Faye Show with Jim J. Bullock.
    More Details Hide Details She was the subject of a documentary titled The Eyes of Tammy Faye (1999) and a follow-up film titled Tammy Faye: Death Defying (2004) from Lions Gate Entertainment.
  • 1993
    Age 50
    On October 3, 1993, she married Roe Messner in Rancho Mirage, California, after Messner divorced his own wife.
    More Details Hide Details They moved to the Charlotte suburb of Matthews, North Carolina. Tammy and Roe were neighbors to Christian recording star and friend David L Cook. Messner, who had a contracting business, Messner Enterprises, in the Andover, Kansas, suburb of Wichita, Kansas, had built much of Heritage USA as well as numerous other large churches and had been a family friend to the Bakkers throughout the PTL years. Messner was the one who produced the money for the $265,000 payment to Hahn, later billing PTL for work never completed on the Jerusalem Amphitheater at Heritage USA. In the Bakkers' fraud trial, Messner testified for Bakker's defense saying that Falwell had sent Messner to the Bakker home in Palm Springs, California, to make an offer to "keep quiet." According to Messner's testimony, Tammy wrote the offer on her stationery, listing a $300,000-a-year lifetime salary for Jim, $100,000 a year for Tammy, a house, and a year's worth of free phone calls and health insurance. However, Messner said that Bakker wrote on it: "I'm not making any demands on PTL. I'm not asking for anything." Falwell denied making any offer.
  • 1992
    Age 49
    In 1992, while Bakker was still in prison she filed for divorce, saying in a letter to the New Covenant Church in Orlando, Florida:
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  • 1988
    Age 45
    The Charlotte Observer ran exposés of PTL's finances and management practices. PTL went bankrupt after being taken over by controversial Lynchburg, Virginia-based Baptist televangelist Jerry Falwell, who offered to step in following the scandals in 1988.
    More Details Hide Details Tammy stood by Bakker through the scandal, including several instances when she cried on camera. In 1989 Bakker was sentenced to 45 years in prison on 24 fraud and conspiracy counts.
  • 1961
    Age 18
    She was married from 1961 to 1992 to televangelist, and later convicted felon, Jim Bakker.
    More Details Hide Details She co-hosted with him on The PTL Club (1976–1987). She was a participant in the 2004 season of the reality show The Surreal Life. The eldest of eight children, Tammy Faye was born Tamara Faye LaValley in International Falls, Minnesota, to Pentecostal preachers Rachel Minnie (née Fairchild) and Carl Oliver LaValley. Her parents were married in 1941, one year before Tammy Faye was born. Shortly after she was born, a painful divorce soured her mother against other ministers, alienating her from the church.
  • 1960
    Age 17
    In 1960, she met Jim Bakker when they were students at North Central Bible College in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Tammy Faye worked in a boutique for a time while Jim found work in a restaurant inside a department store in Minneapolis. They were married on April 1, 1961.
    More Details Hide Details The following year, they moved to South Carolina, where they began their ministry. Their marriage produced two children, Tammy Sue (Sissy) Bakker Chapman (born 1970) and Jamie Charles (Jay) Bakker (born 1975). Jim and Tammy Bakker had been involved with television from the time of their departure from Minneapolis until they moved to the Charlotte area via Portsmouth, Virginia, where they were founding members of the The 700 Club. While in Portsmouth, they were hosts of the popular children's show "Jim and Tammy". They then created a puppet ministry for children on Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) from 1964 to 1973. Jim and Tammy founded the The PTL Club (Praise The Lord) in the mid-1970s. During the PTL shows, she provided a sentimental touch to stories and loved to sing. In a move that sharply distinguished her from other televangelists, she showed a more tolerant attitude regarding homosexuality, and she featured people suffering from AIDS on PTL, urging her viewers to follow Christ and show sympathy and pray for the sick.
  • 1942
    Born in 1942.
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