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Interview With Tammy Faye Messner

Aired September 16, 2003 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: She's back, Tammy Faye Messner, still smiling after a humiliating scandal, a heartbreaking divorce, a ton of tabloid headlines, even beating cancer. What keeps her going, and what can she teach you about being a survivor? We'll talk about it all with the one and only Tammy Faye for the hour next on LARRY KING LIVE.
One reminder before we begin. Tomorrow night, Arnold Schwarzenegger will be our special guest. He's, as you know, a candidate for governor of the state of California. Arnold Schwarzenegger tomorrow night. And Thursday night, former president Jimmy Carter.

We welcome Tammy Faye Messner, formerly Tammy Faye Bakker, former television host, cancer survivor, subject of a critically acclaimed documentary called "Eyes of Tammy Faye" and the author of the just- released "I Will Survive, And You Will, Too."

What led to writing this book?


KING: And good to see you again.

MESSNER: Thank you, Larry. It's good to see you again. Thank you for letting me run (ph) with you. What led to writing the book was the people contacting me. Putnam contacted me and asked me if I wanted to write a book. And I was very excited to be able to do that because I thought my 15 minutes of fame was up!


KING: Yes. Had you written a book before?

MESSNER: Well, I've written five books. This was my fifth book.

KING: First autobiography?


KING: Is this an autobiography?

MESSNER: No, this is really not an autobiography. It's more of a journal, I would say.

KING: Explain.

MESSNER: A journal of my life, how I survived the different things that happened in my life and trying to teach people, Larry, how they can survive, too, and how they don't have to allow life to break them down emotionally, mentally, physically, in any way.

KING: You think that's teachable?

MESSNER: I think it is teachable.

KING: It is?

MESSNER: Oh, I really do.

KING: Wouldn't you guess -- I would guess that most survival instincts are inborn. You either have them or you don't.

MESSNER: I think so, but I...

KING: But you think...

MESSNER: Well, but I think they can be taught. No, I think they can be taught. I've learned a lot of them myself, and they were not inborn in me. I mean, they were inborn in me to survive, but I didn't know how to do it until I did it and learned how to do it. And I want to teach other people.

KING: Now, this book apparently has a lot of fun. It's...

MESSNER: It does!

KING: ... regarded as a serious autobiography, a chapter title "Marriage and Divorce," a not-so-serious autobiography of a chapter titled "The Peeing Contest," a chapter titled, "Facelifts and Wigs," recipes for Dump Cake and Crackpot Chicken and cosmetics and all the things you've been -- so this is a -- let it all hang out.

MESSNER: Let it all hang out.

KING: Should I read this with the idea of it's going to help me?

MESSNER: I definitely think so. And read it with the idea of giving it to -- passing it on to someone else that needs the help. You know, Larry, I think I've been through about everything a person can go through, as far as living here on this earth! And I made it! I'm still here! And I'm still laughing, still crying and still enjoying life. I still have peace in my soul. You know, you'd think after going through all the -- excuse the word -- crap that I've been though that I wouldn't have peace and I'd always be worried and always depression. But I have total peace in my life.

KING: Let's go back to the beginning, the first television show with Jim Bakker -- "Come on Over With Jim and Tammy." How did that start?

MESSNER: Well, it started by someone finding Jim and me at a church, and we were doing puppets.

KING: Where was this?

MESSNER: It was in Virginia. And a man came through...

KING: You were doing a puppet show on television?

MESSNER: I was -- no, not television, we were doing it in a church. And we always felt, Larry, that in our church services, we had something for the older people and we had something for the -- for the young people. We had nothing for the kids. And so we came up with the idea of doing Suzy Moppet (ph) and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Alligator, of which I was both of the voices. And someone found us, and Pat was starting a fledgling little station in Portsmouth, Virginia.

KING: Pat Robertson, right?

MESSNER: Yes. And he needed some shows. And Bill Garthwit (ph), the man who found us, told us -- told Pat about this young couple named Jim and Tammy and their puppets. And he asked to see us, and that's history from here -- from there.

KING: Where did you meet, you and Jim?

MESSNER: We met at North Central Bible College in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

KING: And love at first sight?

MESSNER: Well, I don't know that it was really love at first sight. It was like, a whole lot of like at first sight, I think, you know?

KING: Well, we got some (UNINTELLIGIBLE) broadcasts with you and him...


KING: ... with his new wife and your new husband and we...

MESSNER: Oh, yes!

KING: We've traced the whole Bakker life, right?

MESSNER: We sure have!


KING: But how did -- how did the whole club begin, the "PTL," "700 Club"? You went on the "700 Club," right?

MESSNER: OK, yes. Well, what happened was Jim told Pat that he would do the children's show, called "Come on Over With Jim and Tammy," if eventually he could do a Johnny Carson "Tonight" show type thing for Christians. And so Pat said, "OK, if we" -- you know, he just said OK, without even thinking, I think. And so the children's show started really building audiences. We were having 100 kids come in, and of course, when kids come, there come the parents, too. And CBN began to build. And finally, it got to the point where Jim said, Well, Pat, you promised that I could do a "Tonight" show. Pat said, OK, Jim. He was true to his word and let Jim go ahead and start the "700 Club," which meant if 700 people give $1,000 a month, it would help it to stay on the air because, as you know, we had no sponsors.

KING: And did that thing take off?

MESSNER: It took off like a snowball down a hill. I mean, it just snowballed on us.

KING: How do you explain it? What did that show have?

MESSNER: Reality. I think it was the first reality show. There were no scripts ever, no nothing! We just winged it! And I think that was interesting to people.

KING: You also -- you syndicated it, right?


KING: You packaged it across the country.


KING: And who were the -- Paul and Jan Crouch (ph)? You write about them.

MESSNER: Well, Paul and Jan Crouch came into the picture when we left Christian Broadcasting. We had been there with Pat for nine years, and Pat decided that he wanted to take over some of the nights at the "700 Club." And well, it was his show, and he deserved to do that.

KING: You were on every day, right?

MESSNER: We were on every day. And so we just decided to part company. We did so amicably. We're still friends today. And we went on -- Jim and I needed a rest, so we decided to go to California, as we'd never been to California. It was in California where Jim ran into Paul Crouch. That was Jim's youth pastor at the Assembly of God back in Muskegon, Michigan. Paul was at a Christian television station there. He was not on television. He was part of the staff working. And Paul said, Jim, why don't we start our own? He said, You know how to do the on-the-air stuff, I know how to do the behind- the-scenes stuff. Why don't we start a Christian television station of our own? And so they were off again!


KING: You didn't own the name "700 Club," though, did you?

MESSNER: No, we did not.

KING: So Pat Robertson kept that.

MESSNER: Pat Robertson kept that, yes.

KING: Now, what name did you call your show?

MESSNER: Trinity.

KING: Trinity?

MESSNER: Trinity Broadcasting.

KING: And was that show a hit?

MESSNER: Oh, my goodness! It took off again. The same thing happened that happened at Pat's -- you know, by this time, of course, people knew us and had some idea of who we were.

KING: When did the whole raising money thing and building of a city thing -- when did that whole thing start?

MESSNER: Well, that started in Portsmouth, Virginia. That was when we were voted off the -- a board of directors was selected at Trinity Broadcasting, people which we did not know but we trusted. And they voted us off, and Paul took over the -- over Trinity Broadcasting. And so we were left not knowing really where to go and what to do, and we were invited to come to Charlotte, where our show had been airing. And so we went to Charlotte, and it happened again!


KING: You were always a hit, right?

MESSNER: It always happened, yes!

KING: When did this whole thing start with, you know, raising money and then...

MESSNER: Well, we had to raise money. Christian television, Larry, has always raised money because we don't have Coca-Cola. We don't have, you know, any sponsors. It's always been sponsored by the people.

KING: What led to -- what was the name of that development again that you had?

MESSNER: Oh, Heritage USA.

KING: Yes. That was yours, right?

MESSNER: Yes, that -- that belonged to the people.

KING: How time quickly forgets, right?

MESSNER: Oh, my goodness! And I live 20 minutes from it, never even realize it's there anymore.

KING: Was that a big mistake?

MESSNER: Was what a big mistake?

KING: Heritage.

MESSNER: Oh, no. I don't think Heritage was a big mistake. I don't think -- I don't think that when we're serving God that we make big mistakes.

KING: But mistakes happen...

MESSNER: I think we made mistakes.

KING: Yes.

MESSNER: I think Jim and me made mistakes, but Heritage wasn't a mistake.

KING: We'll talk about that in a minute. She's written all about it. "I Will Survive, And You Will, Too." She's always around. Tammy Faye Messner -- lots to talk about. Don't go away.


JIM BAKKER: My, has that taken a jump. That's taken a jump of about 600 new lifetime partners since I last looked at the board. That is unbelievable. That means there are just a little over 5,000 memberships left of the lifetime partnerships.

MESSNER: Is that right?

BAKKER: That's it.


BAKKER: That's all there's left.

MESSNER: Wow. That's exciting.




BAKKER: I had the affair. I'm the one who screwed up. And I left her out there by herself to literally face dying without a husband.

KING: And you're so friendly now. How do you explain that? Because I want to get the spouses into...

MESSNER: I like this man. This man is a really nice man. And we've been friends -- we were married for 30 years, and we have wonderful memories together. And we have two awesome kids together.

KING: We're going to meet them.

MESSNER: And I like Jim.


KING: We're back with Tammy Faye Messner. And don't forget, Arnold Schwarzenegger tomorrow night. The book is "I Will Survive, And You Will, Too." By the way, this is Tammy's 10th appearance on LARRY KING LIVE here. On your way up there, baby.


KING: Did the sex scandal that Jim was involved with cause the end of Heritage?

MESSNER: I think it was the beginning -- certainly, that -- well, it probably was the end, but not -- it wasn't the sex scandal. It was Jim's fear of it getting out that caused the end of "PTL."

KING: But that's -- that broke before any financial questions broke, right?

MESSNER: Oh, yes. Yes. Oh, of course, yes.

KING: Where were you when you learned of that?

MESSNER: Well, we were in Palm Springs, California. We had a home there, and it was one place we could get away from all the hustle and bustle of Heritage USA. And it broke -- I got out of the hospital. I had been in the hospital for pneumonia. And I had just finished Betty Ford. And we were...

KING: You were addicted to what?

MESSNER: A little drug called Adavan (ph). And I had just finished Betty Ford, and we were home, getting ready to come back to Heritage USA when it happened. Everything blew apart!

KING: How did you learn?

MESSNER: I learned -- Reverend Deutsch (ph) called us, who was on our board of directors and helped Jim run PTL and Heritage USA. And they called to say that some people had found out about it, about -- the scandal had happened nine years ago. The thing with the sex thing had happened nine years.

KING: Nine years before...

MESSNER: Nine years before...

KING: ... any of it broke?

MESSNER: ... any of it broke. And they said someone had found out about it -- Jerry Falwell -- sorry, Jerry -- and that they were going to break the news to the media unless we talked to them all, unless we talked to Falwell and... KING: But you didn't know about it, right?

MESSNER: I didn't know about it. I had no idea! I found out about it -- Jim and one of our counselors, Vi Azveta (ph), who was on the counseling staff at Heritage USA called me into our bedroom and said, Tammy, we have something to tell you. Well, when they told me what it was -- and I knew the two of them being together, it had to be something big. I had no idea what it was going to be. And when they told me what had happened -- I guess no one -- no woman understands unless she's been there.

KING: Right.

MESSNER: No one can understand unless they've been there, when they come in and they say, Your husband's been cheating on you.

KING: Betrayal.

MESSNER: The betrayal. It's like everything you ever thought you were disappears. Every bit of self-confidence just goes down the drain. It's like everything just floods away and you're left there an empty shell, not knowing what to do.

KING: What about your faith?

MESSNER: You know, Larry, my faith wasn't moved because...

KING: Really?

MESSNER: ... because when you're thrown into that kind of crisis situation, all you really have is your faith. And I ended up (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that was all I had left was Jesus. And if I didn't -- if he didn't get me through this, I was literally going to die.

KING: Why didn't you throw Jim out?

MESSNER: Oh, I felt like -- I threw a telephone at him. Is that pretty good?


MESSNER: I wasn't a person to throw things.

KING: And you know the story was going to break, right?

MESSNER: I knew the story was going to break, and I knew that if I didn't stand with Jim, he'd commit suicide because he was threatening.

KING: Really?

MESSNER: Yes, he was. And I thought, Well...

KING: So you stayed him out of a kind of loyalty?

MESSNER: Well, I stayed with him because -- for one thing, I stayed with him to help him, help him through it. After almost 30 years, I was not going to bail out when the worst, most horrible time of his life was happening.

KING: During those times of your high, didn't you question the way you lived? I mean, you -- when all this was revealed about your gold faucets and all that kind of -- didn't you ever say to yourself...

MESSNER: Larry...

KING: ... These are people's...

MESSNER: Larry, listen. I didn't question it because our faucets weren't gold.

KING: But you lived well, right?

MESSNER: They were brass. But we lived -- we lived well, but I never thought of it because we were so busy working. When we went home, it was just home. It wasn't a mansion. It certainly wasn't a mansion! It was just a big -- a big old house that we'd added onto. That was -- yes, we lived well. My closet was full of clothes. My -- you know, I had everything I wanted. The funny thing about money is when you have it, you never think about it. When you don't have it, it's all you think about. And so I just never thought about it.

KING: Did you ever say, We're using people's money for our own benefit?

MESSNER: Well, we got a paycheck, and I think that kind of -- that kind of psychologically -- you know, the Bible says that the -- that we are worthy of our hire, and so I just never thought about it. Our board directors had voted what to give us, and I didn't question that. I just thought we were getting a paycheck.

KING: What doomed Heritage?

MESSNER: What doomed Heritage? I think Jim could have come back from the sex scandal. There were yellow ribbons covering Heritage USA. We received mail bags full of mail saying, We forgive you. Come on back. Come on back. I think the media ruined Heritage because of the lies that were told and the -- and the...

KING: Lies told about Heritage?

MESSNER: About Jim and about money and about the internal workings of Heritage. They said -- one time -- one time, they had the big story would come out, Millions missing, big hole, you know? Missing. Then they would find it, but they would never say that they found it.

KING: What is Heritage now?

MESSNER: It's sitting out there, millions of dollars worth of beautiful buildings going into decay.

KING: Just sitting there.

MESSNER: Just sitting there.

KING: Did Jerry Falwell hurt you?

MESSNER: Oh, of course. Yes. Yes, he did.

KING: He could have done better?

MESSNER: I think Jerry Falwell could have been a Christian!


KING: What did he do?

MESSNER: I think he did some un-Christ-like things. I think that he...

KING: He tried to take over the...

MESSNER: He took over. He took over Heritage USA and promised to give it back to us, and then decided that -- in his own mind, that we were not worthy of it and sat on CNN day after day after day after day, telling them why we were not worthy of it and convinced people.

KING: How did you hang in there?

MESSNER: I hung there by simply staying to God, I trust you with me, Lord. I trust you with my family, God. And I know you never put more on us than we can bear because that's your promise.

KING: Because you lost it all.

MESSNER: We lost everything -- we lost it all.

KING: And then Jim goes to jail. We'll ask about that.


KING: The extraordinary -- talk about getting up off the floor, this is the lady, "I Will Survive" is the book. Tammy Faye Messner is the guest. We'll be right back.


MESSNER: Jim would have never allowed a chair like this to sit at Heritage USA. It would have been painted. He never allowed a light bulb to be out. He never allowed a dirty restroom. He never allowed grass to grow uncut. And he would have never allowed this. When I look at this chair, rusted away, that's sort of what's happened to Heritage USA. And how I would love to put a fresh coat of paint on it.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - 1987) MESSNER: I've been wondering if the gospel that we preach would work for us. And I'm glad to stand here today to say that the gospel that we preach really does work and the peace that passeth all understanding really is there, and the joy unspeakable and full of glory that the Bible talks about is a possibility, in spite of circumstances. And if I've learned nothing else through this, I have learned that I can trust in God. I can trust in Jesus. And this gospel that we preach does work.


KING: We're back with Tammy Faye Messner. How did you deal with the humiliation? You were publicly humiliated.

MESSNER: I went out and faced it. I didn't even wear sunglasses. And a lot of people will wear sunglasses and try to hide, but I knew so much in my heart that what they were saying was not true that I went out there and I literally faced the public every day. Now, I went out shopping. I did everything that I do, and I faced everyone every single day.

KING: How did you deal with Jim's trial and subsequently going to jail?

MESSNER: Oh, that was...

KING: For a crazy amount of years, by the way.

MESSNER: Oh, yes. A lifetime...

KING: They finally got him out.

MESSNER: ... practically. He got a...

KING: Weird, weird...

MESSNER: It was strange, wasn't it, 45 years in prison for...

KING: Finally got him out early. Who was the lawyer again? Dershowitz.

MESSNER: Dershowitz got him out for -- after five years.

KING: Right.

MESSNER: Dealing with a man going to prison -- oh, man. It's the hardest thing you'll ever go through.

KING: Were you still in love?

MESSNER: I think I was so angry at everything, Larry, and I was trying so hard to survive, I don't know if I was or not.

KING: What was it like...

MESSNER: I just was... KING: ... the day he was...

MESSNER: I was existing. The day that Jim...

KING: Were you in court when he was found guilty?

MESSNER: Yes! Oh, and the judge looked and said, If any one of you even make a sound, even change your facial expression, you'll be going -- you know, you'll be thrown out of court. And so we just had to sit there stoic, you know? I mean, not showing any emotion at all. And here's my kids and me and sitting there just wanting -- just tearing -- you know, filled with tears and not -- no one believed it. I don't think anyone believed what happened. And as they handcuffed Jim in front of us, he didn't have a chance to say good-bye or anything, and they just walked him out of the court handcuffed.

I was left not having a job, not knowing what I was going to do. We had just rented a house. I had no idea how I was going to make the rent payments. To our name, we were able to scrape together $1,000 -- to our name. No, there were no hidden bank accounts. There was no nothing. We were able to scrape together, through the help of people, $1,000, and that's what I had to look forward to, $1,000, no job. And God, what am I going to do? I got this -- I got kids to raise.

KING: And Jim didn't look like he was going to make it.


KING: The way he looked coming out -- was that...

MESSNER: I thought he was going to die. I was so afraid.

KING: You got divorced, though, while he was in jail, right?

MESSNER: Yes, but he was -- I mean, he was in jail three years when I filed for divorce. He actually, though, Larry -- Jim actually filed for divorce first. And when he did that, I think it was probably the last nail in my coffin.

KING: Didn't he do it for your best interest, though?

MESSNER: Well, he probably thought he did. But when a man...

KING: You didn't want to get divorced?

MESSNER: Well, I never thought of divorce. I honestly didn't. Divorce wasn't even in my thinking. We were taught since little kids you don't get divorced.

KING: Did you visit him in jail regularly?

MESSNER: Oh, yes, yes. Every time we had the money (UNINTELLIGIBLE) could.

KING: So what reason did he tell you that he filed?

MESSNER: He didn't say the reason. He just filed for divorce.

KING: You just got served?

MESSNER: I got served with divorce papers. And it's so strange. I thought, I've got to end this hurt, when I got the divorce papers -- I've got to end this hurt. I can't take it anymore. My life had come to the place where I had high blood pressure. I was bleeding internally. All kinds of things were happening to me. And I was -- and I should tell you that during this, I started a church. I was able to keep Jamie alive and clothed and fed. And I was able to minister during this time.

KING: You have how many children?

MESSNER: I have two. I have Jamie and Tammy Sue.

KING: How are they doing?

MESSNER: They're doing wonderful.

KING: They're adults now, right?

MESSNER: They're adults. Now Tammy Sue is just finishing up a new CD. Jamie Carroll's (ph) -- he wrote a book called "Son of a Preacher Man."

KING: They were on this show.

MESSNER: Yes. He's still preaching, so that's really wonderful.

KING: Did they handle it well?

MESSNER: They handled it well when we were going through it. They were so strong. But I think as the years have progressed, they're actually having more trouble handling it now than they were when it first happened.

KING: Why?

MESSNER: They were strong for Mom and Dad when they needed to. And I think now that Mom and Dad are both OK, the kids are looking back at yesterday a little bit. And they're going through some counseling and going through some things to help them.

KING: Did you ask Jim why he filed against you?

MESSNER: I really didn't.

KING: You didn't?

MESSNER: It didn't make any difference anymore, Larry. And so I just -- I just went ahead. I think I surprised him to death when I finally -- when I just went ahead and told Jim Thoms (ph), who brought the papers -- who was a lawyer who brought the papers to me. I said, I'm going to sign them, Jim. And my divorce was literally over. Two wonderful judges that loved both Jim and I did it for me. KING: You also write about 13 things to remember about divorce, right?


KING: Like how you...

MESSNER: And please, please...

KING: ... prepared for memories that you don't...

MESSNER: ... read these.

KING: ... don't share and...


KING: It's tough, isn't it.

MESSNER: It is tough. You know, when you choose to divorce, you've got to remember that there are -- a price you're always going to pay forever. And if it's worth that, then OK. And I was willing to pay that price. But it's a family that's never together. There's always...

KING: Turns out now that you're happy. You're happily married.

MESSNER: Yes. Oh...

KING: It was worth it, right?

MESSNER: Roe (ph) is worth it. He is so worth it!

KING: So the divorce was worth it?

MESSNER: The divorce was worth it to me.

KING: And Jim is happily married.

MESSNER: And Jim is happily...

KING: And you're friends.

MESSNER: And we're friends, yes.

KING: So all of it was worth it.

MESSNER: It was worth it. But in some cases, if people can stay together and see a way where they can -- read my book and find -- and read it well. The points I have in my book, read them well before you decide.

KING: Your nervous -- your daughter had a nervous breakdown, right?

MESSNER: Yes, she did. KING: Was she -- did she have to go away somewhere?

MESSNER: No. I told Jim, Tammy Sue had a nervous breakdown and...

KING: How old was she?

MESSNER: She was -- let me see. She was probably 30, 31. And when she did, I told Jim, Don't let them send her anywhere. You take care of your daughter. And God bless, Jim. He took her. He laid on the floor by her bed night after night after night. And he was the perfect dad when it came to that!

KING: Tammy Faye Messner. The book is "I Will Survive, And You Will, Too." And we'll be right back. Don't go away.


JAMIE, SON: I was a little confused when the divorce happened, you know? I was upset with Mom and...

KING: You thought she was wrong.

JAMIE: Well, we were best friends. Me and mom are best friends, and we had each other, and me and Mom went through it together. So we kind of had a -- you know, it was our first argument. So that was the only time that was...

KING: Do you like Roe?

JAMIE: Yes. Oh, I love Roe. Me and Roe get along really great and...

KING: But you just felt that...


KING: ... she shouldn't have left your father.

JAMIE: Yes. At the time, I did.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jim would go out every night during (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and that's when I got addicted to all manner of flu pills and I hallucinated cats on the ceiling. I did, didn't I, honey? And sometimes their heads would vaporize and explode. And -- yes. And once it felt like someone shoved a bun cake down over my head and the bun -- right, honey?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the bun unbraided and the feeling rose up in flames and all the razors turned into demons and I put my hands up and I said Dear Mother Teresa, I rebuke you.


KING: We're back with Tammy Faye, The book, "I Will Survive and You Will, too." Arnold Schwarzenegger tomorrow night. Jimmy Carter on Thursday.

What was it like seeing yourself made of fun of? There was -- that sketch on "Saturday Night Live" when Dana Carvey's Church Lady interviews Phil Hartman and Jan Hooks and they're doing you.

MESSNER: They're still doing me, Larry. And I...

KING: What was it like?

MESSNER: Well, at first it hurts really bad. And then you're embarrassed and then all of a sudden you learn to laugh at it.

KING: That's when you've turned this corner.

MESSNER: And that's when I learned the corner. When I can look -- I was on just the other night when they said the reason Tammy likes animals so much is she's related to the raccoon family. And I just laughed and laughed and laughed. It's like, you just learn to laugh at it. And when you learn to laugh at it, that totally sets you free. The Bible says laughter doeth good like a medicine and it really does.

KING: How did the kids handle the divorce?

MESSNER: The kids -- at first, again, handled it really well. Well, not Jamie. Jamie called me up the night of -- the night before I was going to get married and he said something to me. He said, "Mother you know it's a sin to divorce and you're going to die and you're going straight to hell, mother."


KING: For being remarried?

MESSNER: Yeah. And I knew he had to say that. I never have held that against Jamie because I knew he had to get that out. He had to say that and I said, OK, son. You get out what you need to get out and you're invited to my wedding tomorrow if you want to come. But I didn't ask the children to be there. I didn't want them to have to take sides.

KING: Did he come?

MESSNER: No. And I -- but only because I didn't want them to have to take sides.

KING: You were addicted to Adavan (ph).


KING: What is that?

MESSNER: Adavan's a little pill.

KING: For what?

MESSNER: I was afraid to fly.

KING: It's a legal drug?

MESSNER: It's a legal -- yes. It's a -- legal drug.



MESSNER: It's a prescription drug and the doctor gave it to me to calm down the butterflies in my tummy when I fly.

KING: It's like a tranquilizer?

MESSNER: It's like a tranquilizer. It brings you down just a little bit. As you can tell, I don't need to be brought down at all.


KING: You got addicted to it?

MESSNER: And I became addicted to it, yes. And it took many -- it took me about three or four years to become addicted. But what happens with Adavan, Larry, and most drugs -- most prescription drugs -- is -- is when you take -- say you start out with one milligram. Then your body says, Wow, I like that. And it takes two milligram to do what one milligram did.

And then you're just going along on a two milligram, your body starts to show symptoms again. Starts to show symptoms. So much it feels as though, I need one more milligram.

And it -- and -- and then -- a lot of drugs, which people don't realize have an afterlife. And so when you take it, it stays in your system and so when you take one the next day, you're actually taking like one-and-a-half, because the half stays in the system. So you've got to be very careful with prescription drugs.

KING: How did Betty Ford work for you?

MESSNER: It worked wonderful because it gave me knowledge. And once I had the knowledge, I had everything I need. I had no idea what Adavan could do. No one ever told me. I mean, I didn't even think I was addictive type personality and...

KING: Did you ever get addicted to anything else?


KING: That's an addiction.

MESSNER: It really is. I guess I traded that, which is really a better tradeoff.

KING: Yes.

MESSNER: You know, because things really do go better with Coca Cola. They don't with Adavan.


KING: Was Betty Ford tough?

MESSNER: I was an outpatient. I decided to do it as an outpatient, because I felt like I was in prison when they put me in there, psychological.


MESSNER: And so I did it as an outpatient. They gave me so much wonderful knowledge that I have been able to pass on that it was something wonderful that happened in my life.

Yes, it was tough. But yes, it was worth it.

KING: You had to survive that, too.

MESSNER: Yes. And the humiliation and everything else that goes along with it.

KING: And what was the key to surviving drug addiction?

MESSNER: Again, God. I hung on to God. I just did (ph).


KING: What about people who don't believe?

MESSNER: And if you've only yourself, you're in kind of a hard -- kind of a hard...

KING: Harder?

MESSNER: It's much harder, I would say.

You know, Larry, the thing about the mind is that the mind could change your thinking. You have to use the same line. You have to -- if your mind is sick, you have to use that sick mind to get well.

KING: Of course. You've only got one mind.

MESSNER: You can't just get another mind. And so somehow you have to change that sick mind and change the thoughts in it. KING: Do you ever see God as a crutch?

MESSNER: Yes. And I love it. I'll lean on him every day. That's a good crutch.

KING: So that's not a bad word?

MESSNER: Oh, no. Crutch is a great word.


Now the last couple of years, you've suffered some difficult losses. Your brother Donny (ph)....

MESSNER: My brother Donny...

KING: ...died suddenly. Your sister Judy died. Your dad died.

MESSNER: My mom died.

KING: And the passing of your Aunt Jim (ph).

The most sudden was Donny, right?

MESSNER: Was Donny.

KING: What did he die of?

MESSNER: He died of something that the doctors can't even find. In fact, you know the young man that just died of it? The actor. Donny died of what he died of, where the heart just...

KING: John Ritter.

MESSNER: John Ritter was just -- oh, I loved John Ritter. I'm so sorry. Exactly the same thing.

KING: He had the same thing? The torn aorta?

MESSNER: Exactly same thing. That's what Donny died of.

KING: How old was Donny?

MESSNER: Donny was 50 -- I have to think. He was 58. And he was walking -- him and his wife were walking their dog out on the railroad tracks and he was talking and as he was talking, he fell dead. And just was gone and she thought he was playing a trick on her. And said, come on, Don. Come on. And he was already -- his eyes were set in his head and he was gone.

KING: How do you deal with death?

MESSNER: I know he went to heaven. I know he went to see Jesus.

KING: So your faith carries you through. MESSNER: My faith, again, carried me through. Because we have that hope. The Bible says we are not as those that are without hope. When you think a person is going to a better place, and when you know that in your mind, you're wouldn't want them back in this world suffering and hurting and going through...

KING: So then you're unhappy for yourself?

MESSNER: Just your own self.

KING: But not for them.

MESSNER: Yes. Because I miss my brother, Donny. When I saw him carried out in that grey casket, because they were going to cremate him, so they carry him out in like a gray box. And when I -- I couldn't believe he was in there. And when they opened him up -- and here was my cute brother, you know -- he was so cute. And he had his hat by him and he had this red cocked to the side and he was such a wonderful, down-to-Earth funny guy?

KING: How did he handle your whole problem?


KING: Yes.

MESSNER: Oh, he hung in there with me. He said, "Oh, sis," he said, "Don't let the bastards get you down."


MESSNER: That was Donny.


MESSNER: Just tell -- tell it like it is, Donny.

KING: Dealing with a lot of loss in a short of period of time -- these deaths came...

MESSNER: They came one right after another. Bing, bing, bing. I lost my really good friend at that time, too.

KING: And you're able to accept this?

MESSNER: Because I know one of these days I'm going, too.

KING: Do you ever look up and say...


KING: ... somebody doesn't like me?

MESSNER: No. I always say, "Hey, God. Are you sure you don't think I'm tougher than I really am?" But he...

KING: This is like Mrs. Job.


KING: I mean, you keep -- you keep getting hit?

MESSNER: But you know what old Job said? He said, Thou God slay me, yet will I trust him. And I've looked to him -- God many times and say, "God, like Job, I say to you, though you slay me and you might, yet will I trust you because my faith is in you"

KING: Boy. That's -- that keeps -- but what do you tell people who don't have the faith?

MESSNER: Well, I tell them -- Tell them -- well, of course you give them rules to follow that are man's rules that will help. But I ultimately figure there's only one help, and that's knowing the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal savior.

KING: What was your childhood like?

MESSNER: I had a great childhood. I'm the oldest of eight of kids -- I'm actually the oldest of 16.

KING: Was it a religious family?

MESSNER: Well, yes. Oh, yes.


MESSNER: They all went to church. We all went to church. Yes. They all went -- they all went to church. We all loved God. And, our family was a fun family. We could beat the heck out of each other, but don't let anybody else touch one of us.


MESSNER: We climbed trees and hung form our -- if my mother knew, she would have died an early death if she didn't knowing what us kids did when we were all out together.

KING: Was Jim your first sexual encounter.

MESSNER: I'm not going to answer that.


KING: That answers it.


KING: Ah-ha!





KING: Hey, religious, family, it happens. I heard...


KING: You're not going to answer. If you're out there, call in. Anyway...

MESSNER: No, don't.


KING: Our guest is Tammy Faye. The book is....


KING: I'm only kidding. "I Will Survive and You Will Too."

As we go to break, Tammy and one of the crisis of her life, dealing with PTL. Watch.


BAKKER: We knew that Tammy needed help and that she needed help professionally. And, we made a decision to enter a center -- to enroll in a center for help here in California.




KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) said it's so weird have you all here together. Yes it is weird.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been real healing for me in the green room. Because I felt like it was back at PTL at green room. And the sad thing is and people that came from the divorce, people will always miss the chemistry that they have. Because you have seen it here tonight.


KING: Our guest is Tammy Faye, an extraordinary, extraordinary lady. Tell me about cancer.

MESSNER: Yes. I had it. I had colon cancer 7 1/2 years ago. I...

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) taking a colonoscopy. You haven't? MESSNER: No. Never. No, never had. I was bleeding and wanted to believe it was a internal rupture, hernia and -- or internal hemorrhoid. That's what the doctors had told me they thought it was. So (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that's good I'll believe them, you know. But when I found out that all the medicine they gave me didn't work, and I was bleeding more and more, I thought, I better find somebody.

KING: Were you married to Mr. Messner?

MESSNER: Yes. Yes, I was.

KING: And had cancer too, right.

MESSNER: And he has -- still does has prostate cancer.

KING: And he's surviving it right?

MESSNER: He's surviving it wonderfully.

KING: He had surgery?


KING: Did not.

MESSNER: No. He's doing what they call watchful waiting and he's doing fine. But watchful waiting with his bible. The difference there.

KING: He's been diagnosed a number of years.

MESSNER: Yes, eight years.

KING: How did you defeat colon cancer?

MESSNER: Well, I went and got it operated. I think that, to me, if god doesn't heal you better do something about. I'm very practical. I think we serve a practical god. He made doctors. He gave them, you know, the knowledge. So I went and had the colon cancer removed. I did not chemotherapy. And I took two rounds of radiation. And believe this or not, somebody is going to call me a kook. I was laying radiation table and I heard a voice say, Tammy, you don't belong here.

KING: This was after the surgery?

MESSNER: Was after surgery. You know, I felt I should not take chemo, because I felt chemo would destroy other things in you besides just the cancer.

KING: So are you know completely clean?

MESSNER: I am completely clean of cancer. Is that wonderful or what?

KING: Didn't that scare you? MESSNER: No.

KING: When they told you have colon cancer? How did they tell you.

MESSNER: No. You ask my husband. The doctor who examined me, was a woman doctor, and she called and said, well, we got Tammy to late. She has cancer. So, my husband said, well, let me let you tell her. Well, I knew when he said that. And so I picked up and I said what do I do about it?

And we scheduled a surgery for the next week, and that was all there. See, this is where I figure it, Larry. The same god was god yesterday and he was just as powerful yesterday as he was today when I found out I have colon cancer. So he doesn't change, so why should I?

KING: You don't blame him for letting you get it?

MESSNER: No. This is life. You know, what do they say it happens? It happens, and it happens to everyone.

KING: So, you and your husband cancer victims had to support each other?

MESSNER: Yes. And we do that really well. Because I allow him to do the watchful waiting. I feel it his body. He has a right to do what he wants to do with his body, and I trust him.

KING: Has he got something to do with that?

MESSNER: Yes, he wrote that book.

KING: This is Row Messner's book called, "Church Growth by Design." We'll show it here.

MESSNER: He has built over 1,700 churches and more than a million people every Sunday worship in one of his churches.

KING: He goes church to church?

MESSNER: He has built more than 1,700 churches. He's a builder.

KING: He designed a part of Heritage City?

MESSNER: He did all of Heritage USA. Yes.

KING: Wow.

MESSNER: And so the book is distributed. If I can tell where's distributed, Larry, and I know you don't care. It's distributed by the FaithWorks. And that's a national book distribution place.

KING: It's called "Church Growth"?

MESSNER: It's called "Church Growth." (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

KING: And your's is "I Will Survived and You Will Too."

MESSNER: And you will too, and that's a promise.

KING: Before we go further, we may have some news.


KING: You're coming back.

MESSNER: Yes, yes, yes.

KING: Tell us.

MESSNER: I starting a television show in November. It won't be released until first part of January, but I am going back on Christian television and I am very, very excited about it.

KING: What's the show going to be like?

MESSNER: The shows going to be like "Tammy's House Party," which is a fun, wild...

KING: Daily. Daily.

MESSNER: Daily, yes. A half hour day. We are going to start a half hour a day and then we hope to expand as we get further along.

KING: Is it on Pat Robertson network?

MESSNER: No. But Pat, you can sure take me if you want.

KING: Will you go to syndicate it?

MESSNER: Yes we are going to syndicate it.

KING: For Christian stations?

MESSNER: Yes. I'll was given free time in the station in the south. And so I get to start free which is, thank you, Jesus.

KING: Are you politically involved?

Are you liberal, conservative?

Are you right wing, left ring?

MESSNER: I try to stay away from politics. I believe what I believe. I love President Bush. I like him as a person. And regardless of what anybody says, I think he's doing a good job.

KING: You are admired by the gay community, though?


KING: You stood up for gays, right? Which often is against the far religious right. MESSNER: Yes.

KING: You know, that Mr. Robertson doesn't share your views or (UNINTELLIGIBLE) or anyone?


KING: What got you to feel this way?

MESSNER: Well, because I feel that's where Jesus would be. You know, Jesus is love. He's love and he cares about people. And he says that he came for the hurting. And, the gay community have hurt a lot because of a misunderstanding of people. So what the gay community and I decided to do, agree to disagree. We just decided to agree to disagree. I'm not a homosexual, of course. I am a heterosexual. There's no way I'll ever understand the gay community, but that doesn't mean that I can't love them and be a part of their life.

KING: You co-hosted a show with a gay person?

MESSNER: Yes. Yes.

KING: You don't think they chose to be gay, do you?

You don't think it's a choice.

You don't think people sit down and say, hetero, homo, hetero, homo, I think I'll be a homo.

I mean logically you think that occurs?

MESSNER: Well, you know, I don't know because I'm not gay. I don't have any idea. I mean, I didn't choose -- I didn't choose to be heterosexual.

KING: Correct.

MESSNER: You know, but I have no idea. I don't know the thinking of the gay mind. I really do not, Larry. So, I don't know how to talk about that. All I know is they've been kind to me and I care about them and I love the gay community.

KING: What do you think of gay marriage?

MESSNER: I think marriage is for husband and wife. I agree with old Pat Robertson on that, and a lot of the population. That a marriage by god (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a man and a woman. For procreation.

KING: How about gay union to be protected for insurance?

MESSNER: Well, I think that gays have the right to give their property to whomever they want to give their property. I will support anyone that when they die, they have their right to pass on their property to whomever they want to pass the property on to, their personal gain. KING: During all these years there had to be moments when your faith was shaken. It's just logical.


KING: How did you deal with it then?

MESSNER: Well, I got on my knees and screamed a lot at God. And to tell you, where are you? Sometimes when I prayed, it felt like, god went no higher than the ceiling and the prayers fell back on me. Then that's when your faith starts to be moved, and you begin to doubt, then you have to go back to the bible. And you have to begin to read, God's word and just stick to God's word. This is what you said, God. This is what your word says. I will never leave you or forsake you. I will be there when no one else is there for you. You know, underneath are the everlasting arms. You know, for all good things work together for good. To those who love, God. And to those that are called according to his purpose. Then he says -- he says in one verse, I'll not put more on you than you bear. So, I just went back to the bible and just pure determination.

KING: We'll be back with remaining moments with Tammy Faye, the book is "I Will Survive and You Will, Too." Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, we put this all in there.

MESSNER: You can't get all that in there.


MESSNER: You can't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honey, people say that about your mascara and you still get it on. So you can get all that in there.

MESSNER: Thank you so much for coming and bringing these little pets with you. We appreciate it so much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

MESSNER: Where, where you're going? Oh, no, she's going back to "PTL." Oh, no.




MESSNER: You know all this stuff? Look at all this stuff. I mean, that's my blush. It's almost gone. I got to go to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and get some more. I buy it at the (UNINTELLIGIBLE). 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 (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Eyelash glue. I don't know what that is. And here is my mascara that I'm so famous for. As you see, it's L'Oreal waterproof lashout (ph) maker. And as you can see, it's much used. Much loved.


KING: We're back with Tammy Faye, our remaining moments. What's the chapter on the peeing thing? What is that all about?

MESSNER: Well, I'm a grandmother. And one day, James and Jonathan -- hi, James and Jonathan, grandma loves you. They and their little friend across the street have asked if they could take the three dogs for a walk. I have got two, and James and Jonathan have one. So I said, sure, you can take the dogs for a walk. So they put their little collars on, and one of my dogs, this bitty little thing, I was worried a little bit.

So as they were on the walk, they were gone longer than I thought, and I was beginning to get worried. And they come back, they were laughing away. They were just literally on the ground. And I said, what is so funny? And they said, oh, grandma, grandma, we had a peeing contest. I said, the boys? No, the dogs, grandma. They said, Muffin peed 22 times, and Tuppins (ph) peed 15 times, and Jaycee (ph) peed 10 times. And I said, and who was the proud owner of Muffin? And James stood up and took a bow. The three little boys laughing uproariously. It brought such joy to my heart. Who would think of a peeing contest?

KING: Do you like being a grandma?

MESSNER: I love it. It's the joy of my whole life.

KING: You look back. Was Jim a mistake? A sort of mistake?

MESSNER: No, I don't think he was a mistake, because I believe, again, that all things work together for good for those that love God. And so I believe he was not a mistake, no.

KING: Do you read the tabloids?

MESSNER: No. And shame on you who do. Shame, shame.

KING: Boy, they burned you.

MESSNER: They burned me good. But if we didn't buy the tabloids, see, they couldn't stay alive. But I mean...

KING: How's Jim doing?

MESSNER: Jim is doing really wonderful. He's on television again, in Branson, Missouri. And I understand that they're starting small, but there's nothing wrong with starting small.

KING: That's where he lives now? MESSNER: He lives in Branson, yes.

KING: He got married and moved there?


KING: Does he have a church there?

MESSNER: No. He doesn't have a church, but they're having -- they're on TV every day and they're having a wonderful time. And I'm happy for him. I...

KING: Do you talk to each other?

MESSNER: Oh, once in a while, where the grand kids are concerned, we do, yeah. That's Minnesota.

KING: You're going to come back on television?


KING: You got this book. Happy about that?

MESSNER: I'm happy about that.

KING: Publishers are excited?

MESSNER: Oh, yes. Thank you, publishers.

KING: They're getting it around?

MESSNER: Yes, yes, yes. "I Will Survive, and You Will, Too." And that's a promise.

KING: And talk to your -- oh, I know (UNINTELLIGIBLE) people. They're great people.

MESSNER: They are great people.

KING: Original penguin (ph).


KING: And you do makeup tips?

MESSNER: Oh, I do. If you want to know how it's done, ladies, this is the place to look.

KING: How long does it take you every day to get makeup?

MESSNER: Well, I'll tell you, usually takes me 10 minutes a day.

KING: Come on!

MESSNER: I does. Honest. But today, it took me an hour and I still wasn't sure I had it right. Is it right? KING: Because it was for this show, right?

MESSNER: Yes, I was a nervous wreck. I panicked.

KING: You give tips on how to put -- what to put on...

MESSNER: Well, I always say, don't let them tell you that when it's too much.

KING: And recipes, right?

MESSNER: I have tips, I give recipes, I have people fill out their personality profile. I have them fill out what they love, what makes them happy so they can lay the page around and let their husband read what makes them happy. We do all sorts of things. This is kind of a little work book, too.

KING: What is dump cake?

MESSNER: Oh, dump cake. That's easy. All you do is you take and you dump a can of cherries or a couple of cans of cherries in the bottom of a dish. And then you take and you dump pineapple over that. Then you take a white cake mix and just sprinkle over that. Then over the top of that, you (UNINTELLIGIBLE) butter, and that's -- and you just put it in the oven, and about 30 minutes later, oh, you have got heaven in a dish. Oh, dump cake. You just dump it all in.

KING: Every woman should serve it to a man the day she dumps him.

Thank you, doll.

MESSNER: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Tammy Faye Messner, the author of "I Will Survive, and You Will, Too."

And I'll be back in a couple of minutes to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.


KING: Thanks for joining us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't forget, tomorrow night, Arnold Schwarzenegger is our special guest. And on Thursday night, the former president of the United States, Jimmy Carter. The big leagues! Speaking of the big leagues, Aaron Brown hosts "NEWSNIGHT" and he's next from New York.


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