Monday, July 23, 2007
Story of the Day - Tammy Faye Messner
Don't let fear rule your life...
Live one day at a time, and never be afraid.
Tamara "Tammy" Faye Messner (March 7, 1942 – July 20, 2007) was an American Christian singer, evangelist, entrepreneur, author, talk show host, and television personality. She was the former wife of televangelist, and later convicted felon, Jim Bakker, and she co-hosted with him on The PTL Club from 1976 to 1987. She was known for her tendency to wear heavy makeup, particularly mascara and false eyelashes. 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 Carl and Rachel Fairchild LaValley. Tammy Faye's background includes Canadian ancestry, as La Vallee, Ontario is located near her hometown of International Falls on the Canadian side of the Rainy River. Her parents were married in 1941, just one year before Tammy Faye was born. Shortly after she was born, a painful divorce soured her mother against other ministers, alienating her mother from the church. After the divorce, Tammy Faye continued living in a strict atmosphere with her mother and brother. When she was six years old, in 1948, her mother married Fred Grover, who worked in the paper mills. Her stepfather's salary increased their income, but also added four children to the household.
As a child in the 1950s, she helped her mother with household chores and babysat her younger siblings. Despite all this, she was often spoiled by her favorite aunt, Virginia Fairchild, who was a retired department store manager. She attended her aunt's church in 1952.
When she was accompanied by a friend to the Assemblies of God church, at age 10, she said she felt the glow of God's love and wanted to call herself upon the Lord. Her entire family gathered around her for celebrations, particularly Christmas, which is her favorite holiday. In 1956, she started spending summers at Bible camp and was voted "Queen." That same year, she attended Falls High School where she sang in the choir. Also that same year, she got an after-school job working at Woolworth's Department Store, the same store in which her aunt had previously worked. She was not allowed to attend any school dances, baseball games, or even the movies, as her church wouldn't allow it. Before she graduated in 1960, her mother suggested that Tammy Faye would become a minister.
In 1960, she met Jim Bakker. Both were students at North Central Bible College in Minneapolis. Tammy Faye worked in a boutique shop for a time while Jim found work in a restaurant inside a department store in Minneapolis. They were married on April 1, 1961. The following year, they moved to North Carolina, where they began their own ministry.
PTL Club and scandal
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 700 Club. While in Portsmouth, they were hosts of the popular childrens'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, and co-founded the Trinity Broadcasting Network with personal friends Paul and Jan Crouch in California. Jim and Tammy founded the PTL Club 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 when it came to homosexuals, and she featured people living with AIDS on PTL, urging her viewers to follow Christ and show sympathy and pray for the sick.
The PTL empire continued to grow under the Bakkers' leadership, but the concern about their opulent lifestyle grew as media reports of an air-conditioned dog house at their Tega Cay, South Carolina lakefront parsonage as well as gold-plated bathroom fixtures dominated newscasts in the 1980s. The Bakkers' home, owned by the ministry, was actually an older home built in the early 1970s and it was a few miles away from Heritage USA. Jim Bakker stated that the much-talked-about dog house was heated with an old heater to keep the dogs warm in the winter and the reported gold-plated fixtures were actually brass. The home was later sold by the ministry and burned to the ground not long thereafter. Jim Bakker wrote in his book I Was Wrong that he watched the home burn on live television while incarcerated.
Worthy of note is the Epilogue from the publishers of this book is the following:
"On July 22, 1996, shortly after Jim Bakker had completed the writing of this book, a federal jury ruled that PTL was not selling securities by offering Lifetime Partnerships at Heritage USA. The jury's ruling thus affirms what Jim Bakker has contended from the first day he was indicted and throughout this volume."
However, due to Jim Bakker's resignation from the ministry after an affair with Jessica Hahn became public, as well as investigative reporters from the Charlotte Observer reporting on PTL's finances and management, 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. It was widely reported that Falwell's interest in PTL and Heritage USA was solely an attempt to gain control of its profitable cable television network; something which Falwell was unsuccessful in establishing for his own ministry despite numerous requests to the FCC for permission to obtain a satellite license. Tammy Faye later forgave Falwell regarding these tactics before Falwell's death in 2007, two months before Tammy Faye's own death.
In 1993, Tammy Faye married former Heritage USA contractor and church builder Roe Messner. She used the name Tammy Faye Messner and resided in the Matthews, North Carolina, a Charlotte suburb. Her husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer years ago, but has chosen not to seek traditional chemotherapy and radiation treatments in favor of a "watchful waiting" approach. In 1996, she co-hosted a TV talk show entitled The Jim J. and Tammy Faye Show, with Jim J. Bullock. Tammy chose to leave the show after being diagnosed with colon cancer, and was replaced.
In recent years, she was the subject of a documentary film entitled The Eyes of Tammy Faye (1999) and a follow up film entitled Tammy Faye: Death Defying (2004) from Lions Gate Films. She has also appeared on The Drew Carey Show, playing the mother of character Mimi Bobek (Kathy Kinney), who was also known for wearing excessive amounts of makeup. In 2005, she appeared in an infomercial for alternative medicine promoter Kevin Trudeau, an appearance she later admitted that she regretted.
In late June 2007, Tammy Faye told Entertainment Tonight Roe was building her a "dream house" in Kansas City, Missouri, and the couple would move from North Carolina to Missouri to be closer to Roe's children and grandchildren, who live in Wichita.
The Surreal Life
In early 2004, she appeared on the second season of the VH1 reality television series, The Surreal Life. The show chronicled a twelve-day period when she, Ron Jeremy, Vanilla Ice, Traci Bingham, Erik Estrada and Trishelle Cannatella all lived together in a Los Angeles house and were assigned various tasks and activities.
Together, the six put on a children's play, visited a nudist resort (without her), managed a restaurant for a day, and got readings from a psychic (also without her). During the taping, she forged close bonds with all of the other six house mates, many of whom came to look up to her as a mother figure and a spiritual inspiration.
She also attended a book signing for her best-seller, I Will Survive... And You Will Too.
She made a plea for all people to grant themselves permission to cast off the things that are holding them back, to forgive themselves and others, to be happy with themselves whoever they are, to persevere in the face of opposition, and to show each other unconditional love. Her speech moved the four roommates who were present (Jeremy stayed home) to tears; Bingham later confessed that it had been a life-altering moment for her.
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 had similar feelings and problems when she had been their age.
Involvement with the IRS
The Charlotte Observer reported that the Internal Revenue Service still holds Bakker and Roe Messner, her husband since 1993, liable for personal income taxes owed from the 1980s when they were building the PTL ministry, taxes assessed after the IRS revoked the PTL's nonprofit status.
Messner said Jim Bakker and his former wife didn't want to talk about the tax issues: "We don't want to stir the pot." He also said that the original tax amount was about $500,000, with penalties and interest accounting for the rest. The notices reinstating the liens list "James O. and Tamara F. Bakker" as owing $3 million, which liens the Bakkers must still pay.
Tammy Faye first battled cancer in March of 1996, when she was diagnosed with colon cancer. She was successfully treated for the cancer, and went into remission by the end of that year.
On March 19, 2004, two weeks after her 62nd birthday, Tammy Faye made an appearance on Larry King Live and announced that she had inoperable lung cancer and would soon begin chemotherapy. She continued chemotherapy throughout mid-2004. On November 30, 2004, also on Larry King Live, she announced that she was cancer free once again. She described details of her chemotherapy and continued to appear regularly on King's show. It was on his program again that she announced, on July 20, 2005, that her cancer had returned.
On March 13, 2006, six days after her 64th birthday, she appeared again on Larry King Live and stated that she was continuing to suffer from lung cancer, which had reached stage 4, and was continuing treatment for it. She also mentioned having difficulty swallowing food, suffering panic attacks, and substantial weight loss. 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 her son Jay was "at a North Carolina hospice with his mom, [who is] gravely ill with colon cancer".
Tammy Faye was a guest by phone on Larry King Live on December 15, 2006 and stated that she was receiving hospice care in her home. Tammy Faye appeared in her son Jay's documentary series, One Punk Under God, where she and Jay talked about her cancer treatments. In one episode, Tammy Faye required the use of oxygen in order to talk.
On May 8, 2007, she issued a statement on her website saying that all treatments to cure her cancer had stopped, but urged her fans to continue to pray for her. 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 have been received.
On July 19, 2007 she was again the interview subject on CNN's Larry King Live, where she said she weighed 65 pounds and was unable to eat solid food although she managed to gain five pounds recently.
On July 20, 2007, Tammy Faye Messner died following an 11-year battle with cancer. What had started as colon cancer, spread to her lungs. She died in her home, said her booking agent, Joe Spotts. A family service was held the morning of July 21 in a private cemetery, where her ashes were interred. 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 Web site 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. According to CNN.com, the family requested that King officially report the news on his show July 21.
Tammy Faye battles cancer
Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker
Tammy Faye: Death Defying
Tammy Faye Messner timeline
TAMMY THROUGH THE YEARS
1942: Born in International Falls, Minn.
1961: Marries Jim Bakker.
1978: Bakkers open Heritage USA in Fort Mill, S.C.
1987: Jim Bakker resigns as PTL head, signaling the beginning of the end of their religious empire.
1989: Belts out "On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand" in front of the federal courthouse in Charlotte after Jim Bakker is convicted of fraud.
1992: Bakkers divorce.
1993: Roe and Tammy Faye Messner marry.
1996: Publishes her memoir, "Tammy: Telling It My Way."
1999: Messners move from Rancho Mirage, Calif., to Matthews. N.C.
2000: "The Eyes of Tammy Faye" documentary debuts to strong reviews.
2004: Goes on national TV talk show to talk about fighting cancer.
May 2007: Stops receiving cancer treatment; moves from Matthews to Kansas City, Mo.
July 2007: Dies of cancer at 65.
THE BIBLE VERSE THAT GAVE HER SOLACE
Romans 8:28: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose."
Tammy Faye Messner Ends Cancer Treatment
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Former televangelist Tammy Faye Messner said doctors have stopped treating her cancer and that her weight has dropped to 65 pounds.
In a letter posted Tuesday on her Web site, Messner thanked her "faithful friends" for sending her flowers, cards and gifts as she battles cancer for a third time. The 65-year-old Charlotte resident was first diagnosed with colon cancer in 1996, and she announced in 2004 that the disease had spread to her lungs.
"The doctors have stopped trying to treat the cancer and so now it's up to God and my faith. And that's enough!" she wrote.
Messner said her daughter and her daughter's friends were taking care of her while her husband, Roe Messner, builds churches. He had no comment on his wife's condition, said a woman who answered the phone Wednesday at his business.
Messner has frequently spoken about her medical problems, saying she hoped to be an inspiration to others. Letters, including updates on her health, have been posted every few months on her Web site.
"I am down weight-wise to 65 pounds, and look like a scarecrow. I need God's miracle to swallow," she said in her latest posting. "I look at young people and wish with all my heart for just one day of 'feeling great.'"
Messner divorced Jim Bakker in 1992, while he was serving a sentence for financial fraud. The pair founded a Christian retreat in Fort Mill, S.C., and built a multimillion-dollar evangelism empire.
Tammy Faye Messner: Life in God's Hands
Tammy Faye Messner, Suffering From Colon Cancer, Says Her Life Is in God's Hands
Tammy Faye Messner, who suffers from inoperable cancer, says she trusts God with her life.
"I talk to God every single day, and I say, `God, my life is in your hands, and I trust you with me,'" the former televangelist told CNN's Larry King on Thursday.
Messner, 65, wearing heavy makeup and a matching red blouse and jacket, appeared emaciated and spoke in a raspy voice. She said she weighs only 65 pounds.
"All I eat is chicken soup and rice pudding," she said.
Messner was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1996 and announced in 2004 that the disease had spread to her lungs. She has said doctors have since stopped treating it.
Messner said she now receives hospice care and takes morphine to ease the pain of swallowing food.
Asked if she had any life regrets, Messner said: "I don't think about it, Larry, because it's a waste of good brain space."
She added: "I believe when I leave this earth, because I love the Lord, I'm going straight to heaven."
Asked if she had a message for viewers, Messner said: "I genuinely love you and I genuinely care. And I genuinely want to see you in heaven someday."
Messner divorced televangelist Jim Bakker in 1992, while he was serving a sentence for financial fraud. The couple had founded a Christian retreat in Fort Mill, S.C., and built a multimillion-dollar evangelism empire.
Tammy Faye Bakker Messner dies
Tammy Faye Bakker On Larry King Live 7-19-07
Tammy Faye Messner dies
Tammy Faye Messner, the former televangelist and Christian singer who battled drug addiction and later inoperable cancer, died Friday morning, CNN's Larry King said Saturday night. He said the family had asked him to make the delayed announcement.
She was 65.
Messner was a guest on "Larry King Live" on Thursday. She told him she couldn't swallow food, and weighed only 65 pounds.
King said the family postponed the death announcement for a day so family members could gather. Messner was cremated and interred in a remote part of Kansas at the Kansas-Oklahoma state line, King said.
"The family appreciates all of the well wishes of so many people," the talk show host said on CNN.
"She wanted a party," King added. "They're going to schedule a party in two to three weeks in Palm Springs, California. Her friends will be invited. And she wanted it to be a celebration.
"She died peacefully. Anyone who saw her on our show this week knew that she didn't have long."
King asked her Thursday if she were "a little scared."
She responded, "A little bit," adding that she mainly worried about her family. Video Watch Messner on King's show »
She made dramatic appearances on the now-defunct Christian PTL Network she started with then-husband Jim Bakker, its host. Before millions of viewers, she would often break into tears, prompting her trademark heavy mascara to run.
"Our family is deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Tammy Faye," Bakker said late Saturday. "She lived her life like the song she sang, 'If Life Hands You a Lemon, Make Lemonade.'
"My heart aches for my two children, Jamie Charles and Tammy Sue, who loved their mother dearly. They both told me their mom was so full of life that it is hard to believe she is gone."
Bakker said Tammy Sue stayed with her mother almost around-the-clock in the last year to help care for her.
"Tammy Faye's deep faith in God has kept her throughout her life as well as during these last days of her life. In her last 48 hours, she shared her faith in Jesus Christ on worldwide television with millions of people."
After divorcing Bakker, who became steeped in money and sex scandals, she married Christian construction magnate and former PTL contractor Roe Messner in 1993. She was married to Bakker for more than 30 years.
She underwent surgery for colon cancer in 1996. In 2004, she revealed that the disease had spread to her lungs, and in May 2007 she announced that her doctors had stopped trying to treat the illness.
In her appearance on CNN's "Larry King Live," Tammy Faye Messner was a shadow of her former self.
"I believe when I leave this Earth, because I love the Lord, I am going straight to heaven," she said.
King said she had sought the interview.
She told King she was bedridden most of the time, had trouble swallowing food -- hence the weight loss -- and was in near-constant pain.
But her sense of humor was still intact. On her Web site, she wrote on Monday, "I crave hamburgers and french fries with LOTS of ketchup! When I can eat that again, it will be a day of victory!"
Asked by King what she would most like to be remembered for, Messner replied, "well, my eyelashes." Messner wore heavy makeup -- her lip liner, eyeliner and eyebrows were tattooed on.
Born Tammy Faye LaValley in International Falls, Minnesota, she married Bakker in 1961. From 1966 to 1973, the Bakkers co-hosted "The 700 Club," on the Christian Broadcasting Network, founded by television evangelist and Christian Coalition founder the Rev. Pat Robertson.
They began The PTL Club -- with the initials standing for "Praise The Lord" or "People That Love" -- in 1974 and later expanded it into a television network. At the height of its popularity, PTL was bringing in more than $128 million annually and was carried on 1,300 cable systems with 12 million subscribers.
In 1978, the Heritage USA theme park opened at the network's headquarters in Fort Mill, South Carolina. The Heritage USA Grand Hotel was added in 1984 and a water park in 1986. That year, more than 6 million people visited the park, making it the nation's third most popular attraction after Walt Disney World and Disneyland.
On March 19, 1987, Jim Bakker resigned from PTL in the face of a scandal involving an affair seven years earlier with Jessica Hahn, a secretary he paid to keep quiet. Hahn received a one-time $115,000 payment and monthly interest payments from a $150,000 trust fund.
The following month, PTL filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Also in 1987, Tammy Faye Bakker was treated at the Betty Ford Center for prescription drug addiction.
And in December 1988, Jim Bakker was indicted for fraud and conspiring to defraud churchgoers of $158 million. Tammy Faye Bakker was not named in the indictment.
In 1989, Heritage USA and the Grand Hotel closed, and Jim Bakker was convicted of 24 counts of fraud and conspiracy and sentenced to 45 years in prison. Tammy Faye Bakker divorced him while he was incarcerated, and Jim Bakker was paroled in December 1994.
Asked by King on Thursday what she would change in her life if she could, Tammy Faye Messner replied, "I don't think about that, Larry, because that's just a waste of good brain space."
When King suggested that she might want to forget the PTL Club, she said, "I have gotten over that, thank God. That was a terrible, horribly bad experience."
The Bakkers' 30-year-old son, Jay, is a pastor who co-founded the Revolution Church in Brooklyn, New York -- a church aimed at those who feel rejected by traditional approaches to Christianity, stating on the church's Web site that he wrestled with religion after seeing the "excommunicative" treatment his parents experienced from the church after the scandal.
Tammy Faye Messner has also been known as one of the few evangelical Christians who had the support of the gay community. She was one of the first televangelists to reach out to those with AIDS when it was a little-known and much-feared disease. In return, she told King in July, "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."
She was able to bounce back after PTL folded. In 1996, she co-hosted the "Jim J. and Tammy Faye Show" with gay actor Jim J. Bullock. In 2000, a documentary based on her life, "The Eyes of Tammy Faye," was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. And in 2003, she appeared on The WB network's reality show, "The Surreal Life."
Over her life, Messner also recorded more than 25 albums and wrote several books. In 1996, she wrote her autobiography, "Telling it My Way." She also wrote "Run to the Roar," a book about overcoming fear, and in 2003 wrote her last book, "I Will Survive, and You Will Too."
Despite her battle with cancer, Messner told King she kept her Christian faith, instructing her doctors not to tell her how much time they believed she had left. "I don't have any date written on me anywhere that says I'm going to die at any time, and so I just give it to the Lord," she said.
Asked if she had a message for her fans, she replied: "I'd like to say that I genuinely love you, and I genuinely care, and I genuinely want to see you in heaven someday. I want you to find peace. I want you to find joy.
Tammy Faye Messner dies
Pioneering televangelist, 65, had cancer
RALEIGH , N.C. - Tammy Faye Messner, who as Tammy Faye Bakker helped her husband, Jim, build a multimillion-dollar evangelism empire and then watched it collapse in disgrace, has died. She was 65.
Messner had battled colon cancer since 1996 that more recently spread to her lungs. She died peacefully Friday at her home near Kansas City, Mo., said Joe Spotts, her manager and booking agent.
A family service was held Saturday in a private cemetery, where her ashes were interred, he said.
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.” But she told well-wishers in a note on her Web site in May that the doctors had stopped trying to treat the cancer.
In an interview with CNN’s Larry King two months later, an emaciated Messner — still using her trademark makeup — said, “I believe when I leave this earth, because I love the Lord, I’m going straight to heaven.” Asked if she had any regrets, Messner said: “I don’t think about it, Larry, because it’s a waste of good brain space.”
For many, the TV image of then-Mrs. Bakker forgiving husband Jim’s infidelities, tears streaking her cheeks with mascara, became a symbol for the wages of greed and hypocrisy in 1980s America.
She divorced her husband of 30 years, with whom she had two children, in 1992 while he was in prison for defrauding millions from followers of their PTL television ministries. The letters stood for “Praise the Lord” or “People that Love.”
Jim Bakker said in a statement that his ex-wife “lived her life like the song she sang, ’If Life Hands You a Lemon, Make Lemonade.”’
“She is now in Heaven with her mother and grandmother and Jesus Christ, the one who she loves and has served from childbirth,” he said. “That is the comfort I can give to all who loved her.”
Messner’s second husband also served time in prison. She married Roe Messner, who had been the chief builder of the Bakkers’ Heritage USA Christian theme park near Fort Mill, S.C., in 1993. In 1995, he was convicted of bankruptcy fraud, and he spent about two years in prison.
Through it all, Messner kept plugging her faith and herself. She did concerts, a short-lived secular TV talk show and an inspirational videotape. In 2004, she cooperated in the making of a documentary about her struggle with cancer, called “Tammy Faye: Death Defying.”
“I wanted to help people ... maybe show the inside (of the experience) and make it a little less frightening,” she said.
More recently, Tammy Faye kept in the public eye via her Web site.
“I cry out to the Lord knowing that many of you are praying for me,” Messner wrote in a July 16 post in which she indicated she weighed 65 pounds. “In spite of it all, I get dressed and go out to eat. ... I crave hamburgers and french fries with LOTS of ketchup! When I can eat that again, it will be a day of victory!”
In 2004, she appeared on the WB reality show “The Surreal Life,” co-starring with rapper Vanilla Ice, ex-porn star Ron Jeremy and others. She told King in 2004 that she didn’t know who Jeremy was when they met and they became friends.
‘I know what it’s like to hit rock bottom’
Messner was never charged with a crime in connection with the Bakker scandal. She said she counted the costs in other ways.
“I know what it’s like to hit rock bottom,” she said in promotional material for her 1996 video “You Can Make It.”
In the mid-1980s, the Bakkers were on top, ruling over a ministry that claimed 500,000 followers. Their “Jim and Tammy Show,” part TV talk show, part evangelism meeting, was seen across the country. Heritage USA boasted a 500-room hotel, shopping mall, convention center, water-amusement park, TV studio and several real-estate developments. PTL employed about 2,000 people.
Then in March 1987, Bakker resigned, admitting he had a tryst with Jessica Hahn, a 32-year-old former church secretary.
Tammy Faye Bakker stuck with her disgraced husband through five stormy years of tabloid headlines as the ministry unraveled.
Prosecutors said the PTL organization sold more than 150,000 “lifetime partnerships” promising lodging at the theme park but did not build enough hotel space with the $158 million in proceeds. At his fraud trial, Jim Bakker was accused of diverting $3.7 million to personal use even though he knew the ministry was financially shaky. Trial testimony showed PTL paid $265,000 to Hahn to cover up the sexual encounter with the minister.
Jim Bakker was convicted in 1989 of 24 fraud and conspiracy counts and sentenced to 45 years. The sentence was later reduced, and he was freed in 1994. He said that his wife’s decision to leave him had been “like a meat hook deep in my heart. I couldn’t eat for days.”
While not charged, his then-wife shared during the 1980s in the public criticism and ridicule over the couple’s extravagance, including the reportedly gold-plated bathroom fixtures and an air-conditioned doghouse.
There was even a popular T-shirt satirizing her image. The shirt read, “I ran into Tammy Faye at the shopping mall,” with the lettering on top of what look like clots of mascara, traces of lipstick and smudges of peach-toned makeup.
‘I cannot pretend anymore’
In a 1992 letter to her New Covenant Church in Orlando, Fla., she explained why she finally was seeking a divorce.
“For years I have been pretending that everything is all right, when in fact I hurt all the time,” she wrote.
“I cannot pretend anymore.”
In the end, there wasn’t any property to divide, her attorney said. The Bakkers lost their luxury homes in North Carolina, California and Tennessee, their fleet of Cadillacs and Mercedeses, and their vintage Rolls-Royce.
Her autobiography, “I Gotta Be Me,” recounts a childhood as Tammy Faye LaValley, one of eight children of a poor family in International Falls, Minn. Her biological father walked out. She was reticent about her age, but a 2000 profile of her in the Star Tribune of Minneapolis said she was born in March 1942.
She recalled trying eye makeup for the first time, then wiping it off for fear it was the devil’s work. Then she thought again.
“Why can’t I do this?” she asked. “If it makes me look prettier, why can’t I do this?”
She married Bakker in 1961, after they met at North Central Bible College in Minneapolis. Beginning with a children’s puppet act, they created a religious show that brought a fundamentalist Protestant message to millions.
A secular TV talk program, the “Jim J. and Tammy Faye Show” with co-host Jim J. Bullock, lasted just six weeks in early 1996. Shortly after it went off the air, she underwent surgery for colon cancer.
She said afterward that she endured bleeding for a year because she was embarrassed to go to a male doctor. And she wore her makeup even in surgery.
“They didn’t make me take it off,” she said. “I had wonderful doctors and understanding nurses. I went in fully made up and came out fully made up.”
Survivors include her husband and her two children, Jamie Charles Bakker of New York City and Tammy Sue Chapman of Charlotte.
Spotts said that the family is considering a public memorial service for the coming weeks, but that nothing had been finalized Saturday.
Public Memorial Planned For Tammy Faye
Evangelist's Son Asks That Family Be Allowed To Grieve In Private, Until Then
Live one day at a time, without fear, Tammy Faye Messner said earlier this month as she battled cancer, weighing just 65 pounds.
Messner, who as Tammy Faye Bakker helped her husband, Jim, build a multimillion-dollar evangelism empire that collapsed in disgrace, lived a very public life.
When she died Friday, at her home near Kansas City, it was a very private moment for the tireless evangelist and her family.
Messner, who was 65, was cremated Saturday and the family held a private funeral service before announcing her death to the media.
"She had a very peaceful death and is no longer in pain," said her son, Jay Bakker, in a message posted on the website of the Revolution Church, his own ministry. "Thank you to everyone for their prayers and support over the years - it has helped me more than you will ever know. Please continue to pray for her husband Roe as well as the rest of my family."
Bakker, asking the media to allow him to grieve in private at this time, adds that a public ceremony is being planned.
Jay Bakker is not alone in carrying forward his parents' work – his sister, Tammy Sue Chapman, has also followed the family vocation and is a Christian singer.
Messner had battled colon cancer since 1996 that more recently spread to her lungs.
Messner often spoke 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." But she told well-wishers in a note on her Web site in May that the doctors had stopped trying to treat the cancer.
She continued using her web site to speak to followers and fans, right up to the end, speaking of her belief in God and thanking everyone for their prayers and encouragement.
Those who loved Messner are using her web site now to post memorial messages.
In an interview with CNN's Larry King earlier this month, an emaciated Messner - still using her trademark makeup - said, "I believe when I leave this earth, because I love the Lord, I'm going straight to heaven." Asked if she had any regrets, Messner said: "I don't think about it, Larry, because it's a waste of good brain space."
For many, the TV image of then-Mrs. Bakker forgiving husband Jim's infidelities, tears streaking her cheeks with mascara, became a symbol for the wages of greed and hypocrisy in 1980s America.
She divorced her husband of 30 years, with whom she had two children, in 1992 while he was in prison for defrauding millions from followers of their PTL television ministries. The letters stood for "Praise the Lord" or "People that Love."
Jim Bakker said in a news release that his ex-wife "lived her life like the song she sang, 'If Life Hands You a Lemon, Make Lemonade."'
"She is now in heaven with her mother and grandmother and Jesus Christ, the one who she loves and has served from childbirth," he said. "That is the comfort I can give to all who loved her."
Messner's second husband also served time in prison. She married Roe Messner, who had been the chief builder of the Bakkers' Heritage USA Christian theme park near Fort Mill, S.C., in 1993. In 1995, he was convicted of bankruptcy fraud, and he spent about two years in prison.
Through it all, Messner kept plugging her faith and herself. She did concerts, a short-lived secular TV talk show and an inspirational videotape. In 2004, she cooperated in the making of a documentary about her struggle with cancer, called "Tammy Faye: Death Defying."
"I wanted to help people ... maybe show the inside (of the experience) and make it a little less frightening," she said.
A 2000 documentary "The Eyes of Tammy Faye" delved into the rise and fall of the PTL ministry, largely through interviews with Messner. Directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato garnered wide critical praise for their intelligent and sympathetic depiction of the former PTL co-star.
Messner was never charged with a crime in the Bakker scandal. She said she counted the costs in other ways.
"I know what it's like to hit rock bottom," she said in promotional material for her 1996 video "You Can Make It."
Tammy Faye Bakker, U.S. Televangelist in 1980s, Dies
Tammy Faye Bakker, the mascara- laden U.S. televangelist who tearfully implored viewers to send money to the ministry she created with husband Jim before it collapsed in disgrace, has died. She was 65.
Bakker, who died on July 20, was cremated and interred in Kansas, according to Cable News Network's Larry King. She was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1996, and in 2004 she learned that the disease had spread to her lungs. In May this year, she posted a goodbye letter to her fans on her Web site, saying doctors had stopped her treatment.
The Bakkers were household names in the 1980s, spreading the gospel though their PTL television ministry to 13.5 million homes and generating more than $120 million in annual revenue. Their now-defunct $200 million Heritage USA Christian resort and theme park in Fort Mill, South Carolina, attracted 6 million visitors a year, rivaling Disney World.
All of that came tumbling down in March 1987 when Jim Bakker resigned amid disclosures he had a sexual encounter with a former church secretary, Jessica Hahn, and that he authorized the use of $265,000 in ministry money to buy her silence. His fall from grace hit a new low in 1989, when he was sentenced to prison for defrauding PTL supporters of $158 million. He served five years of an 18-year sentence.
``They epitomized the excesses of the 1980s; the greed, the love of glitz, and the shamelessness, which in their case was so pure as to almost amount to a kind of innocence,'' Frances Fitzgerald of the New Yorker magazine wrote in April 1990.
Throughout her husband's trial and afterward, Tammy Faye proclaimed his innocence. The couple were divorced in 1992, and she married former Heritage USA contractor and church builder Roe Messner in October 1993. Since then, she had used the name Tammy Faye Messner, or just Tammy Faye.
Tamara Faye LaValley was born on March 7, 1942, in International Falls, Minnesota, the oldest of eight children. Her parents, Carl and Rachel LaValley, were Pentecostal preachers. At age 10, she found God, falling flat on her back at an Assemblies of God church and speaking in tongues.
In 1961, when she was 19, she married Jim Bakker, a fellow student at North Central Bible College in Minneapolis. They were promptly expelled for marrying, but soon began touring the Bible Belt as itinerant preachers, according to the New York Times.
The couple began working with Pat Robertson's fledgling Christian Broadcasting Network in Virginia, where they created a children's puppet show and Robertson founded ``The 700 Club,'' the first Christian TV talk show. ``The Jim and Tammy Show'' became CBN's most popular program in the 1960s.
``The Bakkers had an ease in front of the camera that Robertson lacked, so they naturally came to have a greater share of the airtime,'' wrote David John Marley in his 2007 biography of Robertson.
The Bakkers' popularity ultimately led to friction with Robertson, and they were forced out in the early 1970s. They then moved to California, where they founded the Trinity Broadcasting Network with Jane and Paul Crouch and developed their own show, ``PTL,'' short for ``Praise the Lord.''
When that partnership soured in 1974, the couple kept the rights to the show's name, moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, and founded the PTL Network in an abandoned furniture store. Their show, ``The PTL Club,'' a mix of Hollywood-style entertainment and bread-and-butter evangelism, expanded to almost 100 television stations.
Wearing her trademark false eyelashes and heavy makeup, Tammy Faye would often break down in tears as followers recounted their personal religious experiences. She would also sing, and ask viewers to send donations. Bakker also hosted the daily ``Tammy Faye's House Party,'' where she served as a sort- of Martha Stewart for broadcast evangelism.
After the scandals, the PTL ministry was taken over by the Reverend Jerry Falwell, who put the business into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June 1987.
Bakker was the subject of a documentary film, ``The Eyes of Tammy Faye'' (2000), narrated by cross-dresser RuPaul, and a follow-up film, ``Tammy Faye: Death Defying'' (2005). The first film portrays Falwell as a manipulator who conspired to smear the Bakkers and take over PTL. In 2004, she appeared on the second season of the VH1 reality television series ``The Surreal Life.''
In her later years, she also became an icon among some gay men who appreciated her camp appeal and tolerant attitude. She appeared at gay-pride events and spoke out in support of people infected with the HIV virus.
Even while in hospice care during the late stages of cancer, Bakker would still give interviews with the media to talk about her battle.
``I believe when I leave this earth, because I love the Lord, I'm going straight to heaven,'' she told CNN's King in a July 19 interview. Asked if she had any regrets, she said, ``I don't think about it, Larry, because it's a waste of good brain space.''
Tammy Faye Bakker is survived by her husband; her daughter, Tammy Sue Bakker Chapman; and a son, Jamie Charles ``Jay'' Bakker.
Jim Bakker, now 67, has resumed preaching on television, hosting ``The Jim Bakker Show'' from the Studio Café in Branson, Missouri, with his second wife, Lori Graham Bakker.
Ex-wife of evangelist Jim Bakker dies
Tammy Faye Bakker Messner, who died Friday, was a former TV preacher's wife whose flamboyant appearance and ready compassion made her a media star after the collapse of the evangelism empire she helped build.
Messner, 65, had successfully fought colon cancer that was diagnosed in 1996, but announced in 2004 that cancer had returned and spread to her lungs. She died peacefully Friday at her home near Kansas City, Mo., said Joe Spotts, her manager and booking agent.
A family service was held Saturday in a private cemetery, where her ashes were interred, he said.
Widely recognized for her heavy makeup and false eyelashes, Messner was the author of several books, the subject of movies and a character in a reality television show, The Surreal Life.
She built a fan following among gays who appreciated her early displays of nonjudgmental compassion for those with AIDS as well as her theatrical life.
"She was never condemning of other people. There was a real genuine care for other people that came through, even on television,'' said Randall Balmer, professor of religion at Bernard College.
While she figured in what came to be seen as financial and cultural excesses in fundamentalist Christian broadcasting in the 1980s, he said, she emerged as a sympathetic figure in contrast to her disgraced first husband, Jim Bakker, who went to prison for fraud.
"Beneath all those levels of makeup, there was a real person,'' Balmer said.
Messner said in interviews and statements on her website that her weight had dropped to 65 pounds and doctors had stopped treating the cancer. She said in May that she looked "like a scarecrow.''
"I've been very ill," she said. "You just have to trust the Lord."
"Every single day I get up and I say I am going to live and not die,'' she said.
"Now it's up to God and my faith. And that's enough! But please continue to pray for the pain and sick stomach," she wrote on her website, www.tammyfaye.com.
Known as Tammy Faye Bakker, she and her then-husband built a hugely successful evangelism empire in the 1970s until its collapse in scandal in the late 1980s.
They were co-hosts of the PTL Club, for Praise the Lord, and the PTL Television Network, becoming was one of the first religious programmers to tap the growth of satellite transmission and cable television. They built a national platform for Pentacostal preaching and frequent appeals for viewers to send in money. They preached a message that God would reward donors with prosperity.
Jim Bakker said in a statement that his ex-wife "lived her life like the song she sang, If Life Hands You a Lemon, Make Lemonade."
"She is now in Heaven with her mother and grandmother and Jesus Christ, the one who she loves and has served from childbirth," he said. "That is the comfort I can give to all who loved her."
In 1987, Jim Bakker was forced to give up his empire and admitted to paying $265,000 in hushmoney to cover up a sexual relationship with a former church secretary, Jessica Hahn. In 1989 he was convicted of fraud and spent nearly five years in federal prison for overselling "lifetime memberships'' that included lodging at the 2,000-acre Christian theme park and resort they developed at Fort Mill, S.C.
She was not charged and divorced Bakker in 1992 while he was in prison. Her second husband, Roe Messner, owns a company that builds churches and had been developer of the PTL resort, Heritage USA.
Tammy Faye played a central role in the success of religious programs with her first husband. She often sang, talked, prayed and even conducted puppet shows on camera.
"She once described herself as the first lady of religious television, and that's hard to dispute,'' Balmer said. "More than her husband, she was the real entertainment.''
Kim Martin, general manager of Women's Entertainment television network, which has aired a 90-minute documentary about Messner's battle with cancer, called her "without a doubt one of the most positive, charismatic people I've ever met.'' Martin said she had an ability to remain positive even in the face of a worsening medical condition.
"She is really inspiring to women,'' Martin said. "When she finds out bad news she says she was depressed for about 30 seconds. ... I think she is a genuine and sincere person -- and people recognize it.''
During her PTL years with Bakker, however, some critics questioned the sincerity of both. When the Bakkers said PTL also stood for "People that Love,'' skeptics dubbed it "Pass the Loot."
Terry Mattingly, a religion writer and senior fellow at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities in Washington, D.C., once appeared as a guest on their TV show in the 1980s and observed that while they held hands and appeared close on camera, they were distant and apart backstage.
"They were the first Christian reality show and just as phony, just as staged as TV reality shows today,'' Mattingly said.
Tammy Faye LaValley was born in International Falls, Minn. She attended North Central Bible College in Minneapolis, where she met her first husband. They married in 1961. The Bakkers jointly hosted TV shows on the Christian Broadcasting Network that Pat Robertson was building in Virginia before moving briefly to the Trinity Broadcasting Network in California. They moved to Charlotte and started PTL in 1974.
As their television empire grew to an estimated 12 million viewers and $10 million a month in revenue at its peak, attention focused on their lifestyle -- big salaries, bonuses, multiple homes, a boat, and oppulent tastes.
According to her biography on her website, she recorded more than 25 music albums and wrote several books about her life. A 2000 film, "The Eyes of Tammy Faye,'' broadened her following, and in 2005 a documentary about her struggle with cancer, Tammy Faye: Death Defying aired on cable television. Her most recent book was I Will Survive ... And You Will Too!
In one of her website notes in May, she wrote that her daughter with Bakker, Tammy Sue, had been caring for her. She also had a son with Bakker, Jamie, a minister who holds services in a Brooklyn bar. Jim Bakker, 67, is building a new television ministry in Branson, Mo.
Tammy Faye Messner & Jay Baker
Tammy Faye Messner remembered - rare unseen footage
Tammy Faye Interview
Tammy Faye on The Surreal Life
Jim Bakker/Geraldo Rivera Interview