Former televangelist and Christian Music singer Tammy Faye Messner (aka Tammy Faye Bakker) passed away on Friday at her home in Matthews, North Carolina. She died from complications of colon cancer which had recently spread to her lungs and was declared inoperable by medical specialists. Tammy Faye had been battling the disease since 1996.
Her last interview and television appearance was on Larry King Live on CNN. It aired on July 19th, just one day before her passing. The program was recorded a day earlier on July 18th; Tammy Faye died less than 48 hours after her final Larry King taping.
Before her death, she appeared on a season of Vh1's The Surreal Life reality show.
She also starred in the documentaries The Eyes of Tammy Faye and Tammy Faye: Death Defying.
In the late 1980's while working with her now ex-husband televangelist Jim Bakker, Tammy Faye's world was rocked when it was discovered that Jim had been involved in a sex scandal with church secretary Jessica Hahn (who later posed for Playboy). They later divorced and Tammy Faye married church builder Roe Messner in 1993.
Tammy Faye has developed a devoted fan base in the gay and specifically drag queen communities. A drag entertainer dubbed Tammy Faye Sinclair performs in the West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky areas. 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 Larry 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 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 (PTL=Praise The Lord, a evangelical television program Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker ran until the Jessica Hahn scandal, at which point the late Jerry Falwell took over). Tammy Faye would frequently be seen on PTL urging her viewers to follow Christ and show sympathy and pray for the sick.
Tamara Faye LaValley Bakker Messner
March 7, 1942 - July 20, 2007