Tammy Faye Messner, American Christian singer and author, Died at 65

  Actor, Writers

Tamara Faye LaValley Bakker Messner died on July 20, 2007 at the age of 65; she was an American Christian singer, evangelist, entrepreneur, author, talk show host, and television personality.

Tammy Faye was born Tamara Faye LaValley in International Falls, Minnesota, to Pentecostal preachers Rachel Minnie (née Fairchild) and Carl Oliver LaValley.

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.

In June 2006, a stage musical titled The Gospel According to Tammy Faye opened at the Cincinnati Fringe Festival and is currently being developed for 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.

In 1980, scandal ensued when Jim Bakker was caught having an affair with his church secretary, Jessica Hahn.

Numerous other affairs surfaced, and the Bakkers fell from grace. In 1989, Jim Bakker was convicted of fraud and conspiracy.

Around the same time, Tammy filed for divorce, which was finalized in 1992.

In 1973, the Bakkers left CBN in order to establish the short-lived Trinity Broadcasting Systems.

The following year, Jim and Tammy Faye became the hosts of an existing North Carolina-based talk show, which they renamed the Praise the Lord Club.

Fueled by the success of the PTL Club, the Bakkers quickly established an entire Christian television network, which they called the PTL or Inspirational Network.

With contributions from their loyal audience, the Bakkers were able to finance a 2,300-acre Christian theme park, Heritage U.S.A.

At the height of their popularity, the Bakkers were celebrities in the gospel circuit, with an opulent lifestyle to match.

The PTL Club reached an audience of 13 million viewers, while Heritage U.S.A. attracted six million visitors annually.
In 2004, Ms. Messner appeared in an offbeat reality series on cable television, “The Surreal Life.”

The role involved moving in with a group of other faded celebrities, including the actor Erik Estrada, the rapper Vanilla Ice and the pornographic-film star Ron Jeremy.

Messner’s health began to fail in 1996, when she learned she had colon cancer. She was told in 2004 that it had spread to her lungs.

She talked candidly about her illness on television and in her 2003 memoir, “I will survive … And You Will, Too!”