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Larry King Live

Tammy Faye Messner Discusses 'The Eyes of Tammy Faye'

Aired March 20, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, she flew high, then fell hard as Tammy Faye Bakker. She's Tammy Faye Messner now and she's here for the entire hour, all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening and welcome to this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE, special because of our guest and special because we're in Atlanta. Tomorrow, I'll be the emcee of the big luncheon by the tourist and convention -- convention visitors and convention bureau of this city. We're going to have four top guests, Ted Turner one of them, and then back tomorrow night with our special guest in New York with Greta will be Trevor Reese-Jones, the bodyguard of Princess Di and the last person to see Princess Di and Dodi Al-Fayed alive. That's tomorrow night.

Our guest tonight for the full hour is Tammy Faye Messner, the former Tammy Faye Bakker. She's the subject of an extraordinary documentary called "The Eyes of Tammy Faye." It was a tremendous hit at the Sundance Film Festival. It will show at the Museum of Modern Art's new directors' new films on March 31st and April 2nd, and then go to theaters all over the United States July 28.

How did this come about?

TAMMY FAYE MESSNER: Go figure, Larry. Go figure!

KING: A documentary.

MESSNER: A documentary.

KING: Who came to who?

MESSNER: OK. HBO and Cinemax paid for it, and they went to World of Wonder.

KING: What's World of Wonder?

MESSNER: World of Wonder is a -- a business that Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato owned. And I had worked with them before a couple of times.

KING: It's a television business.

MESSNER: Yes, a television business. They do documentaries and things like that. KING: And the idea was?

MESSNER: And the idea was for me to do a documentary, and I said I don't want to. I said I just cannot go back and hurt anymore. I've gotten on with my life and I just feel like I can't go back and hurt anymore.

So they kept, you know, urging me and urging me and calling me and talking to me. And finally, I decided, well, I never had a chance -- we never did have a chance to tell our story. Oh, we told it a lot, but no one ever listened. And I thought maybe this is my chance where someone will listen.

So I will always thank God, Larry, that I decided to go ahead...

KING: You're glad you did it.

MESSNER: ... and do the documentary.

KING: Now if it was HBO and Cinemax, why is it theaters and not television?

MESSNER: Well, because I think they sold it to the theaters. They sold it to Lion's Gate. And...

KING: Oh, Lion's Gate going to distribute.

MESSNER: Yes. And I want to just say Sheila Nevins was the executive producer of this.

KING: All right. When you were making it, did you think it would be on television or in theaters?

MESSNER: I thought it would be just on TV: HBO and Cinemax was what they had told me. And the thing that they told me that scared me was that I had no control over anything and that I would not see the film until everybody else saw it. And so, you know, you go into it blind that way. But I trusted Randy and I trusted Fenton to do it fairly, and they did.

KING: We will see -- we'll be seeing excerpts -- excerpts through the night of it through this program. And it's your full story, right?

MESSNER: Yes, it is.

KING: Top to bottom, beginning to now?

MESSNER: Oh, yes. I'm sure glad that life only comes in increments, because if it ever hit you full blast in the face, I don't think you could take it.

KING: You say you had told it and nobody listened. How do you know?

MESSNER: Well, I know because if they listened, they sure didn't print it. I mean, they sat up in our house up in Garysburg and I fixed them chili. And newsman after newsman would come up there and listen, and we would pour our story out, our tears streaming down our face.

KING: With Jim you mean?

MESSNER: Yes, yes, trying to tell them what really happened. And they would go away and write the other version. So obviously, if they listened, they didn't print it.

KING: Were you suckered in, as you look back? Were you victims rather than predators?

MESSNER: I don't think -- I don't like to ever think of ourselves as a victim. No, I don't it was a victim, no.

KING: So you deserve the blame you got? Jim deserved the blame he got?

MESSNER: Well, I don't think Jim deserved the blame he got. No, I don't.

Jim was a good man. He is a good man. He's an honest man. I think what happened: The snowball started rolling down the hill. We were not well-educated. We had one year of college under our belts. And we just went to work for God, and what we did just happened to take off, and it took off faster than we knew how to keep up with it.

KING: We'll get to all of that. The funny thing is that now you're happily married?

MESSNER: Yes.

KING: Jim's happily married.

MESSNER: Yes.

KING: You're back in North Carolina.

MESSNER: With my babies and my grand babies.

KING: And you live 10 minutes from Jim.

MESSNER: Yes, I do.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: You can't go home again?

MESSNER: Just did!

KING: Do you see each other? Are you friendly? Ten minutes...

MESSNER: Well, we're friendly.

KING: Bump into each other at the 7/11. MESSNER: But you know -- if we bumped into each other at the Seven-11, I would just say, oh, hi, J.B. He'd say, hi, Tammy Faye. And we'd be fine.

KING: Are you happy for him?

MESSNER: I'm very happy for him, Larry. I always felt so sorry that I was happy. See, I married first and I felt like I was so happy. And I felt sorry that Jim wasn't happy. I wanted him to be happy.

KING: Do you think he was not happy?

MESSNER: And I knew he was not happy, you know.

KING: But your fault?

MESSNER: I'm married. I knew he needed to be married to be happy.

KING: Do you take any of the blame yourself for what went wrong?

MESSNER: You know, Larry...

KING: By blame, I mean do you say, boy, if I'd have done this...

MESSNER: You know, you can always say if only and what if. But that profits you nothing, because if only and what if doesn't change anything.

KING: OK. Why is it called "The Eyes of Tammy Faye"?

MESSNER: Why do you think?

(LAUGHTER)

KING: And you now -- you have a whole line of products and everything?

MESSNER: Yes.

KING: You've got things going for you?

MESSNER: Yes.

KING: The -- let's discuss the Tammy Faye life.

MESSNER: OK.

KING: You're born in Minnesota, right?

MESSNER: Yes, International Falls, Minnesota.

KING: Oldest of eight children.

MESSNER: Oldest of eight kids. KING: What was it like being big sister?

MESSNER: And we were Tammy, Donny, Larry, Judy, Danny, Johnny, Debbie and Ruth. That's the only way I can say us all.

KING: You have a Larry.

MESSNER: And mom and dad. Yes, got a Larry.

KING: What was it like being big sister of seven?

MESSNER: Well, you helped raise the kids. You -- I was never -- I never got to be a little girl because I was always being part mama, you know. I helped my mother wash clothes. I helped her -- I ironed for hours and hours. I always cleaned the house. And then we'd make a deal. If I cleaned the house, she'd take care of the kids. But if she was going to clean the house that day, I'd take all the kids to the playground.

KING: Was it a religious house?

MESSNER: Yes, it was. We all loved God.

KING: You went to church every Sunday?

MESSNER: We went to the church, yes, every Sunday, and all during the week. And all the rest of the time I spent ice skating. Loved ice skating.

KING: You Jim at Bible college?

MESSNER: I went to North Central Bible College and met there.

KING: Was he your first?

MESSNER: I met this handsome guy.

KING: Was he your first boyfriend?

MESSNER: No, because I was engaged to Stanley Kramer (ph) when I went to Bible college.

KING: The director?

MESSNER: No...

(LAUGHTER)

No. No, Stanley Kramer, our pastor's son.

KING: So you -- Jim was second love?

MESSNER: He was second. He might have been even third or fourth.

KING: As we go to break, here's a scene. We'll be showing you others, excerpts from the documentary. It will be playing wide in July.

Tammy Faye will be back. The documentary is entitled "The Eyes of Tammy Faye." This was a big hit at the Sundance Film Festival, where it's not easy to be a big hit.

Watch.

We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE")

MESSNER: I think the eyes are so important. I believe the eyes of the soul -- I truly do. And I think you can look in someone's eyes and really tell what kind of a person, what their heart is. And so when my precious friends die, I always ask if I could please have their glasses.

When my mom died, I got my mama's glasses, and they're very, very precious to me. I like to put them on sometimes and think, you know, mama looked through these.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: I'm in Atlanta on LARRY KING LIVE with Tammy Faye Messner. The documentary is "The Eyes of Tammy Faye."

All right. You marry Jim Bakker. You're only 17 when you get married.

MESSNER: Yes, yes.

KING: How does the television think -- I know you went to Pat Robertson's show. But how did it even start that you two would do television?

MESSNER: Well, we started -- we were in evangelistic work. We went to different churches and did services. And we felt there wasn't anything for the children, Larry. And so we made some little puppets, Susie Moppet (ph) and Nellie Alligator (ph). And I discovered that I had some little voices that would work for the puppets. And so we began to do puppets in churches, and it began to literally overflow the Sunday schools. So kids would want to come, and their -- it made the churches grow because their parents wanted to come.

KING: So Pat Robertson heard about it?

MESSNER: So Pat Robertson heard about it. He sent a man named Bill Garswick (ph) to find us, and Bill found us, and we were on TV...

KING: Were you...

MESSNER: And I was scared to death.

KING: Oh, that must have been nervous for you. MESSNER: Oh, man.

KING: Did that take off, too? Was that popular on Pat's show?

MESSNER: Yes, immediately it took off.

KING: How soon after...

MESSNER: It built Christian television, actually.

KING: How soon after did you decide to do your own show?

MESSNER: We actually -- Jim had asked Pat before we ever came to do the puppets. He had said, now, we will come and do a puppet show, but if you will allow us to do a Christian Johnny Carson-type show. He said, the world has their show, and I think the Christians ought to have their show, too. So Pat said, OK.

KING: And that started "The PTL Club"?

MESSNER: And that started...

KING: Was it called the PTL...

MESSNER: "The PTL Club," yes.

KING: So you were the first hosts.

MESSNER: Yes.

KING: Pat is now the host. You were the first host.

MESSNER: Yes, yes.

KING: Are you estranged from Pat Robertson? Do you talk to him?

MESSNER: I -- no, I don't talk to Pat. I love Pat. I think Pat's a wonderful man. But we never have an opportunity to talk because we never see each other now.

KING: Did he contact you during all of your trials and...

MESSNER: No, no.

KING: Were you disappointed in that?

MESSNER: Well, I was -- had a lot of disappointment during that time.

KING: Do you think he should have?

MESSNER: It would have been nice if he had have.

KING: Did "The PTL Club" take off right away?

MESSNER: Yes, it did. It took off... KING: Too much, too fast?

MESSNER: ... way too fast, yes. It snowballed faster than we ever thought anything could happen.

KING: Did you ever say to yourself that maybe it's wrong to pitch for money on television?

MESSNER: Well, the reason, Larry, I knew it wasn't wrong was because we didn't have Coca-Cola and Pepsi and deodorants and all those things sponsor us, so it was the only way that we could do it. And that way the Christians -- the Christians were able to run it and be free and do as they felt. So, no, I did not feel that was wrong, as long as the money was used for what we said it was used for.

KING: How about the aspects of the fact that you had a lot of makeup, you lived well, you showed that you lived well, that kind of thing? The...

MESSNER: Well, I think we were honest with the people.

KING: You told them then...

MESSNER: We wanted to be honest with the people. If I -- you know, I wore my makeup. I wasn't just going to wear it off-screen. You know, everything, we took them to our house. Everything we did we shared with the people that were paying for it. They knew what they were paying for. They knew what it was.

KING: Did you ever think of looking into the whole money thing? Did you ever say, Jim, let's get a lawyer, let's sit down and look at all the money that's coming in?

MESSNER: Well, see, we had the IRS right there in the same building that we were in, Larry. And we were audited twice a year, a personal audit and a corporate audit, twice a year.

KING: So you thought everything was fine?

MESSNER: So we thought everything was fine, because if it wasn't they should have told us. If our board of directors was voting us too big of a salary, then the IRS should have come and said, hey, this isn't right.

KING: Well, they can't tell you what to pay...

MESSNER: Or our audit people, you know, somebody should have said it. We didn't know. We really did not. We thought the board of directors votes you something, you trust your board of directors and you go with it, you know.

KING: The crumble started with Jessica Hahn, didn't it? Wasn't that the beginning of the end?

MESSNER: Well, see, I didn't know about Jessica Hahn.

KING: I know. But do you think that when that broke, that was the beginning of the end. That's...

MESSNER: Oh, of course, of course.

KING: Of the whole empire?

MESSNER: Of the whole empire, yes.

KING: How were you told?

MESSNER: Vy Veedle (ph), MGM. Jim never dared much talk to me about anything...

KING: What did you say first?

MESSNER: Vy Veedle was our counselor at PTL. And Jim had a little bit of a hard time talking to me about things that were very, very serious. And so when he brought Vy into the bedroom, I knew something was really bad wrong. And that's when they told me about the Jessica Hahn thing...

KING: Who said it? Vy?

MESSNER: ... that it happened nine years ago. Well, Vy said, Tammy, Jim has something he wants...

KING: But it wasn't nine years before you were told.

MESSNER: It...

KING: It was nine years since now.

MESSNER: It happened nine years ago.

KING: Oh, before? Before you knew?

MESSNER: Before I knew, yes.

KING: And then when it was going to break, she broke it that night?

MESSNER: Yes, her and Jim broke it to me together.

KING: So since it had been nine years...

MESSNER: But it was still to me like it had happened yesterday. I laid on the floor for three days and cried. I couldn't quit crying. I would have thought -- to me, Jim was a saint, you know? And he...

KING: Did you think...

MESSNER: ... never looked at other women.

KING: Did you think there were others in the intervening of the nine years?

MESSNER: No, I didn't. KING: You didn't think...

MESSNER: I never once ever, ever -- because Jim wasn't a womanizer. He really was not. He was, I felt, very true to me.

KING: Why didn't you divorce him?

MESSNER: At the time?

KING: Uh-huh.

MESSNER: Because he was hurting too bad. He felt so horrible about it, and he was hurting so awful. And the world had turned their back on Jim. I couldn't go turn my back on him, too.

KING: Was it as shocking to be see it all in the papers and everything?

MESSNER: Well, it ended up in the papers being something I didn't even recognize, Larry. It got blown so out of proportion that I didn't recognize it. What really got me, though, was when they put it in the "Penthouse" magazine and had her saying all this stuff that Jim says he never said to her.

KING: But the big thing about it was hypocrisy, right? You're preaching religion and you're...

MESSNER: Yes, it's very sad, yes.

KING: It's the...

MESSNER: I didn't think Jim was capable of that. And, of course, it was an affront to me as a woman, because I thought I wasn't good enough, I wasn't pretty enough, everything. All of a sudden, all of my self-esteem is just flushed down the commode. and I was just this hurting, hurting little girl.

KING: Our guest is Tammy Faye Messner. We'll be taking your calls. This is LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be showing you excerpts as well from this extraordinary documentary.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE")

MESSNER: This is where I heard Jim tell me that he had had a one-night stand with a young lady by the name of Jessica Hahn. Even though it had happened nine years before, to me it was like it had happened yesterday. I laid on the floor and I cried for three days. I couldn't believe what had happened in my life. And I didn't know how to solve it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM BAKKER, EVANGELIST: I'm going to write a book called "The Day the Dream Died." And the Lord rebuked me and said, Jim, your dream is not dead.

MESSNER: That's right.

BAKKER: You may feel dead, and I'm going to give you resurrection power. I'm going to heal you, and I'm going to restore you. And the dream will not die.

MESSNER: You know, Jim, one day I was feeling so terribly discouraged and just about ready to give up. And the Lord spoke to me, and I -- and there were so many people around who were -- just the continuing -- I kept thinking, we've bottomed out, we've bottomed out. And then another deeper bottom would come to our lives.

BAKKER: Yes.

MESSNER: And I said, Lord, when are these men going to stop hurting us so desperately? And the Lord spoke to me and said, Tammy, as long as those stars still shine in the sky, I'm still God, and I still rule.

BAKKER: Amen.

MESSNER: Praise the lord.

BAKKER: Amen.

MESSNER: So there is hope.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What show was that?

MESSNER: I don't know.

KING: That wasn't the PTL.

MESSNER: That was "The PTL Club," yes.

KING: It was?

MESSNER: That was "The PTL Club," yes.

KING: OK, because you cried a lot.

MESSNER: Well, you know, when God touches me, I cry, Larry. And that's true. I actually -- I feel God in my heart, and I love the Lord so much. And when I feel him in my heart and when he's touching me, I just -- it just rolls over.

KING: When Jim was arrested, imprisoned...

MESSNER: Oh. KING: ... and the whole Roe, PTL, Jerry Falwell -- what was it like for you?

MESSNER: It was hell on Earth, literal hell. You know, if you're going accused of something that you feel you're guilty of, I think that's much easier to take. But when you're being accused of something that you don't feel that you are guilty of, it's like hell because there's no way to prove. Because they say -- there's an old saying that says, he doth -- what is it? -- he doth something too much. In other words, if you defend yourself...

KING: Oh, yes, doth protest too much.

MESSNER: He doth protest too much. And so we were careful not to protest too much, because we felt, you know...

KING: Even though you saw around you the building of those things and everything...

MESSNER: Yes, I mean, there's...

KING: ... you never read that something was being built or things were going wrong?

MESSNER: No, I did not.

KING: OK. How did you face the fact that Jim faced the possibility of jail on top of everything?

MESSNER: Here we had been one of the biggest prison ministries in the nation, and we had gone and visited prisons and we had provided prisons with Bibles, beautiful Bibles. We had provided them with every kind of thing, satellite networks and everything -- and then to think that Jim was going to end up the very place that we had helped so much was...

KING: All right, how about Jerry Falwell's role? Were you mad at him?

MESSNER: I was so angry at Jerry Falwell. I -- because he had...

KING: He sort of jumped in and...

MESSNER: Well, he came as a friend. He came into the hotel -- he got us -- he -- for one thing, they flew their jets in and hid them. So I thought right off there's something wrong.

KING: Hid them?

MESSNER: Hid the jets. They -- and -- so they couldn't be seen by anybody. Then he -- another thing that Jerry Falwell did that I didn't think was right was that he brought all of his suits with him. What I mean by his suits is all of his men with him. And they all walked in and -- plus his lawyer, and surrounded us and I thought, something is not right here. And then Jerry took us into a bedroom -- I'll never forget it as long as I live. He put his arms around me and Jim and he started to cry, and he said, "This thing on Jessica Hahn is going to be revealed to your partners unless you will allow me to help you." And he said, "I have helped other ministries, and Jim and Tammy, I want to help you. I want to -- you just let me take over your ministry for six weeks. In six weeks, you'll have it back. We will explain what happened nine years ago and that will be all there was to it."

But then he went one step further. He said, "To make it look like it's not a play and to make it look real" -- this is his exact words -- "you must resign your place on the board of directors." So we were sitting around. I said, "Jim, that is not right. There's something wrong there. If you resign your place on the board of directors, that means they have got it and you can never get it back." And I felt that was the way Jerry was headed, because he wanted the satellite network and the partner list.

KING: So what did he do? What did he do?

MESSNER: Jim resigned with me standing there saying, please, please don't.

KING: So you think Jerry suckered you in?

MESSNER: I know he did, yes. We were suckered.

KING: Now, Jim goes to jail. You remain married, right?

MESSNER: Yes.

KING: You eventually got divorced when he was in jail, right?

MESSNER: Yes, yes.

KING: Did you make that decision?

MESSNER: Yes, I did.

KING: You had to go to jail to tell him?

MESSNER: No, I didn't. I wrote a long letter to Jim.

KING: Dear John.

MESSNER: Yes. Well, I also talked to him on the phone, but I wrote a letter to him and I told him everything that I felt had gone wrong in our marriage and the things that I didn't think could ever be fixed.

KING: Were you in love with another man then?

MESSNER: No, I was not. In fact, I thought I would be alone all the rest of my life. This was a very...

KING: You stayed loyal to him while he was in prison? MESSNER: Yes, I did. And this was the scariest time of my whole life.

KING: Were you in court the day he was convicted?

MESSNER: Oh, yes.

KING: Were you shocked at the years he was given?

MESSNER: Oh, a life sentence.

KING: That was eventually reduced. That was a little nuts.

MESSNER: That was crazy, but then the judge was holding his fingers over his ears when they'd say things and the judge didn't allow a lot of things that should have been entered as evidence in court, he wouldn't allow them. He wouldn't even allow the people to go out and look at Heritage USA, which I thought was very, very sad.

KING: How are your son -- how is your son doing? He's here today.

MESSNER: He's here today. Hi, Jamie (ph). He...

KING: He had problems. He's gotten over them.

MESSNER: Jamie had terrible problems. This happened to him at such a young age. He was just a 10-year-old boy.

KING: How about Jonathan? Don't you have two boys?

MESSNER: No, I have Tammy Sue.

KING: Oh, the girl, yes.

MESSNER: Tammy Sue said -- yes. Tammy Sue...

KING: She had problems, too, right?

MESSNER: Yes. She said, I did what every -- any teenager would do. I ran away. But poor little Jamie, he was too young to run away. He had to stay and face it, and be the man of the house, with his dad in prison. He had to go to school and the kids teased him, and...

KING: Tammy Sue has two children, right?

MESSNER: Yes, she has James and Jonathan, the love of my life.

KING: We'll be back with more of Tammy Faye Messner. We'll be taking your calls at the bottom of the hour. This is LARRY KING LIVE.

Tomorrow night, Trevor Reese-Jones, the bodyguard, the last person to see Princess Di alive, the only person who survived that horrible car crash almost three years ago in Paris, will be the special guest tomorrow night. Next Monday and Tuesday night, both Ramseys will be here, two nights in a row, their only live appearances, the only time they'll be taking phone calls. Next Monday and Tuesday night, the Ramseys.

Back with Tammy after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you planning on coming back?

T. BAKKER: O.J. Simpson was nothing compared to what we had around us. It was unbelievable.

J. BAKKER: We just wanted to say hello and thank all you cameramen and all you press people. I hate it you have to stand out in this hot sun in this desert.

T. BAKKER: They were four or five deep for the whole block down all around our house. There was no place for us to hide at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be going to your calls in a couple minutes. Let's get things up to date. You are now married to?

MESSNER: Roe Messner.

KING: Who was in jail himself, right?

MESSNER: Yes, he was.

KING: For?

MESSNER: Twenty thousand dollars that he hid from his wife in a divorce settlement.

KING: And he served and he's out now, right?

MESSNER: Yes.

KING: And things are very happy?

MESSNER: Yes, very happy, the happiest I have ever been in my whole life, thank you God.

KING: Does he have children?

MESSNER: He has four kids, yes.

KING: Do you get along with them?

MESSNER: Oh, yes, and all the grand kids.

KING: And you have your line of products as well.

MESSNER: Our line of products is coming out, I'm very excited about it.

KING: And how are you going to sell those?

MESSNER: We're going to sell them over the Internet, Tammyfaye.com.

KING: And you're a spokesperson for a flea market?

MESSNER: Yes, isn't that wonderful?

KING: Tammy, what have you come to? What is that?

MESSNER: Well, it's going to be the Goodyear Marketplace, the Mesa Marketplace in Phoenix, and then the Ostioli (ph) Marketplace in Florida.

KING: And what do you do?

MESSNER: And I get out there and I sing and I hug all the people.

KING: At the flea market?

MESSNER: Yes, at the flea market, and talk to people, and shop with them, and sign their autographs, and we have a great time. I want to thank Frank Banero (ph) for that, because we are having a great time doing that.

KING: Do you want to come back on television?

MESSNER: Well, I would like to if I could have a show for teenagers.

KING: What kind of idea do you have?

MESSNER: I love teenagers. I would like to go where they go. We have teenagers that are really hurting today and they don't know which way to turn. I think a lot of the quality of their life is gone. The quality of life that we used to have is no more, Larry. And kids don't know where to turn and what to do anymore. And I have been through a little bit and I would sure like to put my arms around them and help them.

KING: Through all of this have you at any time questioned your faith?

MESSNER: I have never -- I have been disappointed in God. I have never questioned God, because the Bible says that the steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord, but I will say I have been very disappointed sometimes.

KING: Do you think you had to learn a lesson?

MESSNER: Oh, I think so. I think I had to grow up. I think I had to -- yes, learn lessons.

KING: Jim has been on this program with his wife. Do you get along with her?

MESSNER: I have only met her a couple of times, but, yes, I like her.

KING: You're happy for him?

MESSNER: I am extremely happy for him.

KING: So the bitterness is not yet totally gone. I mean, you still have bitterness toward Falwell and disappointment with things?

MESSNER: Well, let me tell you the difference between bitter and better. The -- it's just the "I" in bitter, is the difference between bitter and better. And so I have chosen to become better and I let the bitterness go, because it's "I" that had to make the decision.

KING: This documentary will open in July wide on screens and then eventually wind up on HBO and Cinemax, I'm sure.

MESSNER: Yes, next year.

KING: It's also going to play in New York at the museum, it's going to play at the Modern Art New Director's Museum on March 31st and April 2nd, and then released wide. The "Boston Globe" called it non-fiction soap opera.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: We'll be back with your phone calls for Tammy Faye Messner on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE from Atlanta.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE")

BAKKER: See all this stuff? Look at all this stuff. That's my blush. It's almost gone. I have to go to the swap meet and get some more. I buy it at the swap meet. My powder, that kind of -- when I cry, it takes away the tears. This is my eyebrow stuff, although I don't really need to put on eyebrow stuff because my eyebrows are permanent. This turns pink when you put it on. See it's -- but it's white to start with. Eyelash glue. Well, here's -- I don't know what that is. And here's my mascara that I'm so famous for. As you see, it is Loreal waterproof Lash Out makeup, and as you can see it's much used, much loved.

They are put on singly and with lots of mascara. They don't come off. I mean, they have to literally, kind of, wear off. So once in a while, one will drop off and when it does I put another one in. Without my eyelashes, I wouldn't Tammy Faye. I don't know who I'd be, but I wouldn't be me.

(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Tammy Faye Messner who, by the way, beat colon cancer. We're going to ask her about that too.

Let's take a call.

Lakewood, New Jersey -- hello.

CALLER: Hi, good evening.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: I enjoy your show.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: This is Luba (ph) from Lakewood, New Jersey.

KING: I don't need the name. What's the question.

CALLER: OK. The reason I'm calling: I used to give donations to Tammy Faye and her husband. And I just can't understand, how could they have taken all our money and lived so high?

KING: You did live high.

MESSNER: We had a nice home. We had rented cars. But if you will look -- if you go back at PTL, there are millions and millions and millions of dollars worth of buildings still sitting there. That money is still sitting there. Someone could still go in and take advantage of that, Larry and use that awesome facility that is still there.

KING: Did you ever feel any guilt about living so high?

MESSNER: Oh I think -- oh, of course, of course. At the time, we just, we didn't think about it. It was our paycheck, they gave us a paycheck, and we only spent what our paycheck was, you know, so...

KING: Our next call...

MESSNER: Like everybody else on a paycheck. You spend it, you get and spend it.

KING: Next call for Tammy Faye is from Clarksville, Tennessee -- hello.

CALLER: Hello. Hi, Tammy.

MESSNER: Hi.

CALLER: I understand you were raised in a denomination that women didn't wear makeup or jewelry.

MESSNER: Yes. CALLER: I'm wondering how old you were when you first wore makeup and did you feel a little woolly...

MESSNER: Guilty.

CALLER: ... or guilty when you first started doing it? And what did your family think?

My girl friend...

KING: Thank you.

MESSNER: My girlfriend Ada Marie Darod (ph) introduced me to mascara.

KING: At what age?

MESSNER: At about 16 years old...

KING: And you fell in love with it.

MESSNER: ... in a bathroom, and I fell in love with mascara because I put it on and all of a sudden, I realized I had these really long eyelashes!

KING: Did your family get ticked?

MESSNER: No, no!

KING: They didn't? But it was against the faith.

MESSNER: But it was against the faith but nobody seemed to get ticked. I took it off when I went to church, of course, but when I came home from church it went right back on again.

KING: You didn't feel hypocritical?

MESSNER: Oh, yes, a little bit. As hypocritical as a 17-year- old can feel.

KING: What's the reason a church would not allow makeup?

MESSNER: You know, I don't know. But the Bible says: "Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh upon the heart." And we're guilty of looking on people's outward appearances but it's what's inside here that counts.

KING: Speaking of not allowing, what do you make of Bob Jones?

MESSNER: Oh, I was so proud of you with that interview with Bob Jones. You made me just fall in love with Bob Jones.

KING: All I did was ask some questions.

MESSNER: I really think what he said about that -- it being a boot camp -- that's fine. I think that's wonderful. I think young people can learn to do without. Then when they get out, they can do what they feel in their heart they can do. But he said it was a boot camp and that was good.

KING: Colon cancer

MESSNER: Yes.

KING: You found it early?

MESSNER: No, I found it too late.

KING: Well, then how are you still here?

MESSNER: Well, because they took it all out. I was bleeding for one year, Larry, before I found out. They told me it was internal...

KING: You didn't have a colonoscopy?

MESSNER: No, they told me it was internal hemorrhoids, my gynecologist did. Finally, it got so bad my gynecologist said maybe you had better find a doctor other than me.

Well, I finally found the only woman proctologist in captivity, I think. She was in California. I wouldn't go to man, see. So I almost died of embarrassment. I went to her and by that time it was too late. However, a wonderful doctor named Dr. Last (ph) did do my surgery and...

KING: And he took out your colon?

MESSNER: ... he took out 14 inches of my colon and I'm fine today, been four years great.

KING: Did you need a colostomy?

MESSNER: No.

KING: Did not?

MESSNER: No.

KING: Everything OK now?

MESSNER: Everything is wonderful.

KING: And it did not spread. You need to wait five years to know it didn't right?

MESSNER: They say five years but it has not spread. I keep a good check on it.

KING: What is it -- does it affect diet at all? Is there things you can't eat?

MESSNER: No. Food just, kind of, goes through you quicker than normal, you know. So that was -- I would say probably the only thing, with 14 inches of your colon removed.

KING: Did you pray?

MESSNER: I prayed, yes. And I trusted God. And I believe Romans 8:28: "For we know that all things work together for good to those that love God and to those that are called according to his purpose." And I knew God knew about this. And I knew he was going to work it out for my good. And he has because I've been able to talk to so many cancer survivors. I've been able to talk to so many people into going and having checkups that never would have thought about it.

KING: There's a big move, Katie Couric and others...

MESSNER: Oh, God bless you, Katie Couric. She did an awesome job.

KING: In showing her own colon.

MESSNER: I was so pleased with that.

KING: Nothing to be embarrassed about?

MESSNER: No, it really isn't.

KING: And an easy procedure, by the way.

MESSNER: Yes, yes.

KING: Really overdone in fear.

MESSNER: Yes, overdone with fear.

KING: It's a nothing procedure.

MESSNER: The worse thing about fear is fear itself.

KING: That's right. When you heard you had cancer, though...

MESSNER: Yes.

KING: What was your first feeling?

MESSNER: My first feeling was I've got to go get that taken care of. I was never afraid.

KING: Really?

MESSNER: Not one single time. You know, when the Bible says that he will bring into you a peace that passeth all understanding. And for the first time, I felt that peace that passeth all understanding. There was no reason for just total peace to come over me. I knew it was going to be OK. And I wasn't afraid. And I just looked at Roe and I said, well, he was God yesterday, he's still God today, nothing's changed, let's just go get it fixed.

KING: So when you went into surgery, you'd knew you'd be all right.

MESSNER: I knew I'd be fine.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Tammy Faye and more of your phone calls. Tomorrow night, Trevor Reese-Jones.

Don't go away.

MESSNER: I get so sick of this Hollywood crap.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what it is, yes.

MESSNER: I like real.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I agree.

MESSNER: I'm an old farm girl and I like real. That's why I'm wearing all these wigs!

I was a little disconcerted when they look at your face and figure out that you've got to cock it this way to look good.

This way?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Yes, right there.

MESSNER: I did have to take a lot of the mascara off, which is OK with me because it ended up being what I thought, a very good look for me. I wanted to leave the photo session and go directly to the plastic surgeon. Could I have afforded it, I would have. But unfortunately, I'm still here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: "The Eyes of Tammy Faye" will be released in July.

Let's take another call. Washington, Pennsylvania -- hello.

CALLER: Hi, Tammy Faye.

MESSNER: Hi.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: My question is have you read Jim's book, and if so, do you have any issues or comments that might differ from his?

MESSNER: I did read his book, and I thought he was harder on me than I was on him. Boo, Jim.

KING: In what way?

MESSNER: Well, in just a lot of ways. You know, he -- he printed personal, private letters that I had written him and things that were private between the two of us. And he blamed a lot of things on Roe Messner that had nothing to do with Roe Messner.

KING: Your current husband?

MESSNER: Yes. And so I just felt he was harder on me than I was on him, but that's all right.

KING: You're not angry?

MESSNER: Nah.

KING: Kenosha, Wisconsin for Tammy Faye -- hello.

CALLER: Hello?

MESSNER: Hello.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: How are you?

MESSNER: Fine.

CALLER: Hi, Tammy.

MESSNER: Hi.

CALLER: I just want to say, I will never hold back a thank you ever for PTL that was on the air one night when I was 22 years old and I didn't know where to go or what to turn to. And I turned on that show accidentally, and I came to Christ, and I have never been the same.

MESSNER: Oh, bless your heart, honey.

CALLER: I will never hold back the thank yous. So God bless you...

MESSNER: Thank you, honey.

CALLER: ... and let them say what they want to say.

KING: Caller -- caller, when the story broke about Jim and the breakup and the prison, that didn't affect you at all?

CALLER: Nope.

KING: Why not?

CALLER: I mean -- I mean, yes, things happened, and that was sad. But I forgave him. I forgave him because God loves him, and if I didn't forgive him, I would have bitterness on my heart. And I didn't want no bitterness on my heart...

MESSNER: That's right, honey.

CALLER: ... because God loves him, and God loves you too, Tammy. MESSNER: Thank you, honey.

KING: A very Christian thought.

MESSNER: Yes.

KING: Thank you very much. Thanks for the call.

Girard, Ohio for Tammy Faye -- hello.

CALLER: Yes. Good evening, Mr. King.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Basically, it's the same question from Lakewood, New Jersey, but I would like to know if Tammy has any remorse whatsoever for her palatial living with the air-conditioned dog houses.

MESSNER: Here we go again with the air-conditioned dog house.

KING: Well, I mean, when you think about it, that was a bit much.

MESSNER: We did not have an air-conditioned dog house, and I say it all the time. We had a heated dog house.

KING: Oh!

MESSNER: It was heated. Well, it was just an old heater that had been laying around our house, and we took it out. It was cold outside. We had kept the puppies in the garage. And the puppies were doing, you know, what puppies do all over the garage. And it was ruining the floors and ruining everything.

It was heating. I'll tell you, I'll stand up for animals anytime.

KING: By the way, you saw nothing wrong in showing your house?

MESSNER: No, we did not. We did not. And we would have shown people building the dog house if we could. I mean, it was just -- it was just something that wasn't being used that we put in there. And shame on you people who keep talking about that.

KING: All right. How much was your salary?

MESSNER: I -- I honestly don't know. I would tell you if I knew.

KING: But you weren't taking extra money?

MESSNER: Oh, no, no.

KING: To Norman, Oklahoma -- hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. Hello, Tammy Faye. MESSNER: Hi.

CALLER: Listen. My question is I thought your talk show that was not too long ago that you left...

MESSNER: "The Jm J. and Tammy Faye Show"?

CALLER: That's right. I was wondering if you left the show for a morality issue, because of your co-host being gay.

MESSNER: Oh, no, no. I left the show because I got colon cancer.

CALLER: OK. Well...

MESSNER: And by the time...

KING: But you knew he was gay. That was the...

MESSNER: Oh, I knew Jim was gay. Yes, I love Jim. I love Jim just the way he is. And we still are wonderful friends today.

I left because I had colon cancer. They put another girl in my place and the show didn't last.

KING: You were also once addicted to prescription drugs?

MESSNER: I was. I was addicted to a little pill called Adivan. And...

KING: Which is for what?

MESSNER: Which is for nerves.

KING: What was that -- when you were addicted to it, what did it do?

MESSNER: What it did to me -- it was the last year that we had PTL and our life was just going 100,000 miles an hour. It just calmed me down. I would get to where I would hyperventilate. And anybody who has hyperventilated knows that you feel like you can't breathe and you're going to die, and I'd take the Adivan. The doctor gave to it me for that. And it would cause the hyperventilation to go away.

But what happened is that the hyperventilation started happening more often. I started taking the Adivan more often and got to where it became a substance abuse thing.

And Adivan's a good drug but don't abuse it.

KING: How did -- how did you stop it?

MESSNER: I went to Betty Ford and just learned.

KING: Oh, you did. MESSNER: What I didn't know is that there are certain drugs, Larry, that have an afterlife. And what happens, you take one and then you take another one, but the first one is still in you, but the second one is still in you and you take the third one. And I didn't realize that.

And so what it does, it builds up to where you're starting to need more and more to do the same thing that it did when you first just took one. And I did not realize that.

Once I learned, then I learned how to, you know...

KING: Betty Ford worked obviously.

MESSNER: Betty Ford worked, yes, yes.

KING: It's an amazing place.

MESSNER: It is. It's a wonderful place. I thank God they have it.

KING: Back with more of Tammy Faye Messner. "The Eyes of Tammy Faye," the documentary, will open wide, as they say, from Lions Gate in July.

We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, tonight's special guest, Tammy Faye.

(APPLAUSE)

MESSNER: I walked in and was received with so much love and genuinely they seemed happy to see me, which I was genuinely happy to be back where I once belonged.

I need a Kleenex.

AUDIENCE: Glory, glory hallelujah. His truth is marching on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: That last scene we saw, you went to Oral Roberts University.

MESSNER: Yes, I did.

KING: By their invitation.

MESSNER: It was so interesting to see -- to see the marquis with my name going round and round on it. And when I walked into that place and they stood to their feet, Larry, and they were -- that was the place, you know, that was the people that I had ministered to for so many, many years, for 30 years. And to see them welcome me back again was almost more than my heart could handle.

KING: Melbourne, Florida, another call for Tammy Faye Messner -- hello.

CALLER: Hi.

MESSNER: Hi.

CALLER: Tammy, I've known you since I was so little. I'm 30 now. I know that your daughter is about my age.

MESSNER: Yes, she is. She just turned 30. She just turned 30.

CALLER: We were partners. And I was just wondering that -- I know that all of this happened when they were teenagers. How did they take it and are they still bitter now?

MESSNER: They...

CALLER: And also, I wanted to let you know that I know a lot of people call in about the money and everything, but we gave our money to God, not to man. And bless you, and I wish that PTL would come back again.

MESSNER: Thank you, honey. I wish it could be revived again too. I really do. It was a wonderful place.

KING: How did the kids handle all of this?

MESSNER: The kids, you know, we...

KING: When it happened?

MESSNER: When it happened, Tammy ran away, and Jamie, I took Jamie with me. Jim went to prison. Jamie was home. He got on drugs. He got on alcohol. And his little heart was breaking.

KING: Tammy was -- you didn't hear from her, Tammy.

MESSNER: No, I didn't hear from Tammy Sue.

KING: For how long?

MESSNER: Well, for -- oh, man. She lived her own life for -- for about three years.

KING: Really.

MESSNER: Yes, she did.

KING: Didn't know where she was?

MESSNER: I knew where she was. Yes, I did, thank God. I couldn't lived had I not known where she was. But we built a firm foundation of God under our children. Our children knew that God would not let them down, that people might let them down, but God would not let them down. And they're both in the ministry today serving God.

KING: New Orleans for Tammy Faye -- hello.

CALLER: Hello. Yes, I don't know if I'm the only one who noticed this, but it has been bothering me a long time, Tammy. You were involved in fund raising on a television show. You also benefited from the incredible amount of money that came in with the lifestyle. I never did understand: Why weren't you ever charged with a crime? Why didn't you go to jail?

MESSNER: I had no -- I had absolutely no part in running Heritage USA at all. I was going say I was going to write a book, "All I Did Was Sing." I basically only sang is all I did. And I had my...

KING: You were not an official of the company?

MESSNER: I was not an official in any way, no.

KING: So you weren't a vice president?

MESSNER: I was not a vice president. I was in no way involved.

KING: Didn't sign checks?

MESSNER: I didn't do anything like that, no. I was just...

KING: So you weren't even investigated?

MESSNER: I was just Jim's wife.

KING: You weren't even investigated?

MESSNER: No.

KING: Did they question you at the time?

MESSNER: I wanted them to question me, and they wouldn't.

KING: You weren't even questioned?

MESSNER: No, and I wanted them to question me. I went and asked to be questioned, and they wouldn't do it, no.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Tammy Faye Messner on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE, right after this.

Tuesday on LARRY KING LIVE, he was the last person to see Princess Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed alive. The only survivor of the crash that killed them both tells his story in an exclusive live interview. Trevor Reese-Jones for the full hour tomorrow night.

And next week, John and Patsy Ramsey are here both Monday and Tuesday night live. They'll tell us who they think killed their daughter JonBenet and take your phone calls.

It's all ahead on LARRY KING LIVE.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back.

We go to Brooksville, Ohio -- hello.

CALLER: Hi, Tammy.

MESSNER: Hi.

CALLER: I was wondering if you could tell me how you dealt with all of your depression, how you brought yourself out of the depression?

MESSNER: I...

KING: Very good question.

MESSNER: I -- I wouldn't allow myself to have pity parties. If I felt...

KING: You had to be -- you were depressed, though, weren't you?

MESSNER: Oh, depressed.

KING: Did you go on Prozac or anything?

MESSNER: Oh, no, no, huh-uh. I did it totally free of anything like that. I sung a lot to myself, I didn't sing out loud. I sung the songs I used to sing to the people. You can make it, don't give up. You're on the brink of a miracle, and God's not through using you. And I would sing those songs in my head over and over again.

And if I found myself wanting to have a pity party, I would let it last for maybe three or four minutes, and then I'd get up, and Grandma Fairchild would say to me, you pull your bootstraps up, girl, and keep going. And I remember Grandma saying that when I was a little girl, and I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and I marched right into the shopping center.

KING: That you do.

When Jim was in jail...

MESSNER: Yes.

KING: The idea of getting divorced, that grew? You just felt it was going nowhere? Were you writing? Did you visit him?

MESSNER: Oh, I wrote and visited all the time. I spent every penny I had visiting Jim. I would take my -- take Jamie to visit Jim, and...

KING: And that final decision was based on...

MESSNER: The final decision was based on the fact that they were going to let Jim come home early, and I knew that. And I knew that when he got home, I was going to have to tell it to him anyway. And I knew he needed to get used to the fact that when he got out, I would not be there.

KING: You had fallen out of love?

MESSNER: I had -- I had been just -- I had fallen out of love, but that had nothing to do with it. What had to do with it was I had so much hurt inside of me that I could not forgive Jim unless I divorced him. And when I divorced him, I was able to forgive him, and we could both move on with our lives.

KING: Explain that.

MESSNER: I don't know how to explain it, Larry. I would have always said to Jim, well, if you hadn't have let him do this, and if you hadn't done that, and if you hadn't hired this person -- that would have been a horrible life for Jim Bakker to have to live with me, every time I got angry at him, saying that we'd still have PTL if it weren't for this, if it weren't for that. And I know I would have done that. And that wouldn't have been fair to that man.

KING: Are you bitter about Jessica Hahn? What are your feelings toward her?

MESSNER: No, I've talked to Jessica.

KING: You what?

MESSNER: I've talked to Jessica on her radio show.

KING: And?

MESSNER: And we both cried and got over it.

KING: Do you ever hear about how she's doing, other than the...

MESSNER: No, I don't, but I -- but my heart goes out to Jessica because I know it takes two. And so it was as much one's fault as the other, so I -- I never have been angry at her.

KING: How do you like being a grandmother?

MESSNER: I love being a grandma. It's my favorite thing in life. I live on a cul-de-sac. There's all kinds of little people around, children, the ladies that are in their 30s, and we have -- we all go outside and we have coffee and Coke together and...

KING: What happened to Palm Springs?

MESSNER: I -- I just -- I was lonely there, Larry. I wanted to be back with family again, and I wanted to wash two little boys' clothes and have a room for them. And I wanted to speak into their lives like my grandma had spoken into my life. And I think that's one of the things that we're missing today is the old and the young being together.

Palm Springs, so many of them believe in these senior communities. I don't believe in a senior community. I believe the old and the young should be together, then we get the young's energy and the young get our wisdom.

KING: I know a lot of gays like you. You did the show with a gay.

MESSNER: Yes.

KING: Do you think gays are sinners?

MESSNER: Are singers?

KING: Sinners.

MESSNER: Well, I love the gay community. I -- they were very kind to me...

KING: Supportive.

MESSNER: ... and supportive of me. I believe that each one of us have to make choices in life, whether they be wrong choices or right choices. And when we stand before God, God is the one who is going to be our judge.

KING: Do you think they chose to be gay?

MESSNER: I -- I don't know, Larry. If I were to be gay, I would choose to be gay. You know, I mean, if it were a choice, if there -- I mean...

KING: But you don't know...

MESSNER: ... I'm not gay, but I would think that they chose to be gay. I think it's a choice.

KING: Always good seeing you.

MESSNER: Always good seeing you, Larry.

KING: Tammy Faye Messner, "The Eyes of Tammy Faye" will open wide in July. The Museum of Modern Art will show it on March 31st and April 2nd. It's from Lion's Gate films and produced by HBO and Cinemax.

We thank you very much for joining us.

Tomorrow night, Greta with Trevor Reese-Jones in New York, an hour exclusive with your phone calls.

This is Larry King in Atlanta with Tammy Faye and the whole crew. Thanks for joining us. Stay tuned for CNN "NEWSSTAND." Good night.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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