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CNN Larry King Live
Tammy Faye Messner Dies - Interview Highlights
Aired July 21, 2007 - 20:53 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN BREAKING NEWS.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And hello again, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez. We're breaking in with news, sad news in fact, that Tammy Faye Messner has passed away. You may have seen her a couple of times with Larry King this week. Obviously, many of us rember her as Tammy Faye Bakker.
Larry King joins us now on the line. He's good enough to bring us this news.
Larry, what are you hearing?
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Well, Rick, I'm kind of -- I have a lot of mixed feelings here. I love Tammy. She was a great woman. And the family -- I was proud and blessed to have been asked to -- they asked me -- yesterday they knew it was pretty weak and that they would call me and ask me to make this announcement. They asked me to announce when she would pass away.
She passed away yesterday morning, that is Friday morning. They wanted to delay it a full day so that the family could all gather together. She was cremated and buried in a remote part of Kansas on the Kansas/Oklahoma border this morning, Saturday morning. The family appreciates all of the well wishes of so many people.
There will be -- she wanted a party. They're going to schedule a party in two to three weeks in Palm Springs, California. Her friends will be invited, and she wanted it to be a celebration. She died peacefully. Anyone who saw her on our show this week knew that she didn't have long.
And so I was, frankly, surprised when I got the call yesterday, which was that when she passed away, they would want me, because she had spent so much time with me, to make the announcement. So they are officially making the announcement now, although she did pass away on Friday morning.
SANCHEZ: You know what's interesting, Larry -- I watched that show. And you're right, she did not look good. But she sounded like she was in great spirits when she was talking to you. If you hadn't been looking at the picture, doing radio like you did in your old days, Larry, you wouldn't have really been able to tell.
KING: You're right, but she always had that, Rick. She had an indomitable spirit, she had a strong belief in God, a belief I often envied. And she died as bravely as she lived. She died unquestioningly that she was going to heaven. And as bad as she looks right there on the screen -- and that could be hard to take for a lot of people -- is the opposite of what was inside of her. Inside her was that buoyant spirit, that love of life, that determinedness to go on.
And despite all the weird things that happened in Tammy Faye's life -- and a lot was weird with Jim Bakker, and him going to prison and the whole scandal of the PTL Club -- I have never seen her in all these years of interviewing her, have never senn her lose that drop of spirit that she had to the end, including the other day on this show. That's why I was particularly, I guess, thrilled is the right word -- frankly, humbled that they would ask me to make this announcement. I mean, we weren't social friends. I knew her many years, but I knew her only from interviewing.
But she always had -- she felt she had a safe place to come when she came to CNN. And she's going to be missed. She's a -- you know that we got -- when we announced that she was coming on, Rick, we got 200,000 e-mails.
KING: Two hundred thousand hits on the Internet on our website, for her. That's unheard of.
SANCHEZ: What was she going through, Larry? I know she was -- she had a couple -- she had some bouts really with different types of cancer, right?
KING: She had lung cancer, and she had -- it had not spread. But she had, as she described, terrible pains in her back. And she was under hospice care, in-home hospice care. She didn't go to a hospice. They came to her house. And they -- the pains must have been unbearable because even the morphine, she said, took a while to kick in.
For a long time, she thought she was going to beat it. She knew at the end she wasn't, but for a long time, she thought, I'm going to make this. But as with so many people who have this disease, this disease that is a civil war going on inside our bodies, it takes -- it takes us away.
SANCHEZ: Let me ask you about her appearance, because this is a woman who was known, remember, for wearing so much makeup. It would be very sensitive for a woman to go on the air looking as she did. What were the behind the scenes conversations like to get her to talk? Or did she just trust you so much she wanted to do it?
KING: That's a very good question because she was very aware of how she looked and her makeup and jewelry and all of that. But I wasn't part of the booking. I mean, Wendy Whitworth (ph) and our staff, they did all of the booking. She contacted us, and she said she would like to make one last appearance. And we set no conditions on it. I had no idea what to expect. She wasn't preinterviewed. So what you saw was what you got. She asked that her husband come on with her. And she came on. She had a couple of times where she had trouble speaking and she had to cough a little. And we took a break after the first break because of it. She talked about her friendship with Billy Graham. She didn't know Billy's wife, Ruth, who just passed away.
In fact, one of the questions asked of her was, who do you want to meet in heaven, and she said, Billy Graham. I said, you know he isn't dead yet. She said she knew that. Billy is probably watching now and I know that Billy would be calling with his wishes for the family.
But this was a gutsy, brave, stand-up lady. She was a unique personality. I don't think we would have -- we couldn't have invented her. They come once in a lifetime, these kind of people. And she was one of them.
I know she -- for example, she always -- every time she was with me, she expressed affection for my wife. Shawn is here with me now. You met her a few times, right? Always kind and sweet and loving and -- she was special.
SANCHEZ: Did she ever get over -- I just saw some pictures of her with Jim Bakker. Larry, did she ever get over that completely?
KING: She did. I think she did. I mean, she has two children with him whom she loves very much. But she loves her husband. And she was --
Shawn just said -- let her repeat this. Here's Shawn, Rick. You can repeat it.
SHAWN KING: Hi, Rick, how are you?
SANCHEZ: Hi, Shawn.
S. KING: I just wanted to add that Tammy Faye really lived what she preached. She was just such a wonderful woman. And our hearts are saddened that she's not with us, but she's in a better place, I believe. So I'm going to hand it back to Larry.
SANCHEZ: Thanks so much. yes --
KING: That's the believer talking.
SANCHEZ: Hey, Larry, I'm going to toss things over to you. You're going to start a special here on CNN right about now about Tammy Faye.
KING: We had prepared this at great length and did an update on it yesterday, because obviously the end was close, but that's it, Rick.
Tammy Faye Messner, at age 65, leaves us. The death was yesterday. The cremation was yesterday. The burial was today in remote Kansas on the Oklahoma border. There will be a big party and celebrations scheduled for Palm Springs, where she spent a lot of time, about two or three weeks from now. That will be announced by the family.
SANCHEZ: Thanks so much, Larry. I know it's a special relationship that you all had and we look forward to seeing what you're going to bring us over the next hour, my friend.
KING: Thank you, Rick.
SANCHEZ: All right.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, remembering the woman many of us came to know simply as Tammy Faye. Tammy Faye Messner has died after a long battle with cancer. We're going to look back at this fascinating lady with the larger-than-life personality: the good and the bad times with Jim Bakker, their children and the man she married after her divorce. All next, as we remember Tammy Faye on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: Thanks for joining us on this sad, special evening in memory of someone truly unforgettable. Tammy Faye Messner, the one- time televangelist has finally lost her long, brave battle with inoperable cancer.
She was a good friend, a frequent guest of ours and she had millions of devoted fans all over the world. Her passing at age 65 comes only days after she gave us what turns out to be her final interview. Tammy Faye had not appeared here on camera for 16 months when she reached out to us in late June to say that talking to her public makes her feel stronger. She wanted to do the interview you're about to see, which we taped on Wednesday.
It may be hard to watch what inoperable cancer did to her. But, as you're about to see, if she only weighed 65 pounds, it was all heart.
KING: A great pleasure to welcome a return visit -- always to welcome a return visit with Tammy Faye Messner, the former wife of televangelist Jim Bakker, former co-host of "The ""PTL" Club"".
She's been waging a long battle with inoperable cancer.
With her is her husband, Roe Messner. He's also a builder of churches and he says he's built more than 1,700 churches since 1953.
Roe will be joining us in the third segment.
We're going to spend the earlier segments with Tammy Faye.
How are you doing, dear?
T.F. MESSNER: I'm doing pretty good considering the circumstances, Larry.
KING: You are in Kansas City, Missouri.
T.F. MESSNER: Well, I am.
KING: What are you doing there?
What's -- why there?
T.F. MESSNER: We just moved. My husband's children and grandchildren are all within a hundred mile range of the area. And I felt it would be -- it's his turn to be with his grandchildren and his children.
KING: All right. You posted a letter recently on your Web site saying that you've gained a little bit of weight and that you're craving a burger and French fries with lots of ketchup.
Can you eat that?
T.F. MESSNER: Yes. And no, I can't eat it. All I eat is chicken soup and rice pudding. But I'm looking forward to the day when I can bite into that hamburger and those fries. I've gained five pounds. Yes.
KING: You're receiving hospice care at home?
T.F. MESSNER: Yes, I am.
KING: How does that work?
T.F. MESSNER: Well, it works where the person comes to your house and brings all of the medications that you need. I have a wheelchair -- wheelchair and there are several other appliances.
KING: We have a lot of e-mails for you today, as you might imagine.
One comes from Debbie in Fredericton, Canada.
T.F. MESSNER: Hi, Debbie in Fredericton.
KING: The question is: "My prayers are you Tammy Faye. What have the doctors said to you about how much time you may have left?"
T.F. MESSNER: I asked them not to tell me. I don't want my faith level to go up or down. And so I don't fear. I'm concerned, Larry, but I don't fear.
KING: Are you in pain?
T.F. MESSNER: All the time.
KING: The pain is where? T.F. MESSNER: It's in my back and in my tummy.
KING: The cancer is where?
T.F. MESSNER: It's in my lungs.
KING: And is it staying in the lungs or has it spread from the lungs?
T.F. MESSNER: It has stayed in the lungs.
KING: Now you've always been so upbeat, the feeling of god being with you.
Does that remain?
T.F. MESSNER: That remains consistent. I talk to god every single day. And I say, god, my life is in your hands and I trust you with me.
KING: We have an e-mail from Renee in Strongsville, Ohio: "I admire you for your unshakeable faith. Do you believe when you leave this Earth, you're going to go to a better place?"
T.F. MESSNER: I believe when I leave this earth -- because I love the lord -- I am going straight to heaven.
KING: Did you ever know Ruth Graham, who recently passed away?
T.F. MESSNER: You know, I didn't. I knew Billy quite well and he said that someone that works for him said to him and Ruth told him that he prayed -- that he prayed for me every single night.
KING: Frankly, Tammy dear, we've known you so long and you've been with us so many times, are you still a little scared?
T.F. MESSNER: A little bit, for my children mostly.
KING: But it would -- it would not be for yourself?
T.F. MESSNER: For myself, I know where I'm headed. But I know the sadness, you know, that comes with those that care about you.
KING: How are your children?
T.F. MESSNER: They're doing great. Jamie is still in the youth ministry and Tammy Sue works for Roe.
KING: Concerning that, we have an e-mail from Jeremy in Bulina (ph) -- Mulino, Oregon. "What do you think about Jay and his ministry? Two years ago, I heard him preach in an L.A. Nightclub, where supposedly normal people wouldn't want to be. He changed people's lives that night. May god bless you and him."
What do you think about what he's doing?
T.F. MESSNER: I think it's wonderful. I don't think god cares what you put in your body or on your body. And he is just doing fantastic.
KING: The last time you were on, Tammy, you said that you'd been skirting the issue of planning for your death.
Have you been thinking about it, what kind of service you'd like, what kind of epitaph?
What do you want?
T.F. MESSNER: Well, I still would like to be cremated and I want -- I don't want bugs to eat me.
KING: Why do you want to be cremated?
T.F. MESSNER: That's why. I don't want the bugs eating on me.
KING: Do you have any problem with that, Roe?
ROE MESSNER, TAMMY FAYE'S HUSBAND: No, not really, Larry. It's Tammy's choice.
KING: OK, we have a question from Laurel in Leonardtown, Maryland: "Have you been able to stay in touch with any of your castmates from 'The Surreal Life?' You seem to have such a genuine maternal relationship with some of them.
T.F. MESSNER: I do. I talk to them quite often. In fact, they send me flowers. They send me cookies. They send me candy. They send me everything. And I talk to them on the phone a lot -- a lot.
KING: Are you bedridden most of the time?
T.F. MESSNER: Most of the time, yes.
KING: Is the pain constant?
T.F. MESSNER: Yes. Yes, it is. My back hurts so bad and then my stomach -- I have a hard time swallowing food. That's the reason that I have lost so much weight now.
KING: What do they give you for the pain?
T.F. MESSNER: They give me --
R. MESSNER: Morphine.
T.F. MESSNER: Morphine.
And do you ever get where you become immune to it?
R. MESSNER: No.
T.F. MESSNER: No, thank god. And thank god I haven't.
KING: So it always works?
T.F. MESSNER: It takes about a half hour to kick in and once it kicks in, it stays for a long time.
KING: Have you heard from Jim Bakker?
T.F. MESSNER: Jim -- not Jim, but I've heard -- I've heard through his children -- his children -- his children.
KING: We're going to take a break and come back with more of Tammy Faye.
And then Roe Messner will join us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
T.F. MESSNER (SINGING): Never give up what he says he will do. Our god's not through blessing you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM 1987)
T.F. MESSNER: Four months ago we left. And I have not walked in my house, have not seen my puppies and my kittens and all those things, and my dear friends that we love so much. And, also, the people at home -- we love you, we miss you --
R. MESSNER: Yes. And we hope all of the people we love so much will forgive us.
T.F. MESSNER: (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Our guest is Tammy Faye, known -- known around the world, isn't she?
"If you could have people" -- an e-mail from Jane in Ashburn, Virginia, Tammy Faye -- "If you could have people remember you for one thing, what would it be?"
T.F. MESSNER: Well, my eyelashes.
T.F. MESSNER: No.
KING: You've still got that humor. T.F. MESSNER: Well, I walk with the lord. I think people need to know that there's great peace and joy in knowing the lord -- the lord Jesus Christ as your savior. I have a prayer partner. Her name is Deb -- Deborah Keener (ph). And she's with me right now. And she's doing the hospice work. And we pray together constantly. We pray for you. We pray for your family. And we pray for many other people.
KING: Give Deborah my best. I haven't seen her in a long time.
T.F. MESSNER: Oh. OK, sure.
KING: She's a Los Angeles girl.
T.F. MESSNER: She is.
KING: We have an e-mail question from Tina in Forestville, California: "If you go back -- if you could go back and change one thing in your colorful, eventful life, what would it be?"
T.F. MESSNER: Well, I don't think about that, Larry, because that's just a waste of good brain space.
KING: Well, you might forget the ""PTL" Club".
T.F. MESSNER: Well, I am -- I have gotten over that, thank god. That was a terrible, horribly bad experience.
KING: So many people who are watching and listening care about you so much.
T.F. MESSNER: Thank you, Larry.
KING: What would you like to say to them?
T.F. MESSNER: I'd like to say that I genuinely love you and I genuinely care and I genuinely want to see you in heaven some day. I want you to find peace. I want you to find joy.
KING: Wonderfully said.
We have an e-mail question from Jimmy, Sherman Oaks, California: "Unlike many of your Christian contemporaries, you have been a very positive influence in the gay community. Why do you think you found it in your heart to love and accept us?"
T.F. MESSNER: Well, you know when I went -- we lost everything -- it was the gay people that came to my rescue and I will always love them for that.
KING: An e-mail from Craig in Sulphur Springs, Texas: "What's your current relationship with your former husband, Jim Bakker?"
T.F. MESSNER: It's just fine. Well, with -- with Roe and me, we have a very good relationship.
KING: An e-mail from Kirk in Kirkwood, Missouri: "Who are the five people you're most looking forward to meeting in heaven?"
T.F. MESSNER: Billy Graham --
KING: He's not there yet.
T.F. MESSNER: Well, he'll be there.
KING: He'll be there.
T.F. MESSNER: And his wife. I'd like to meet her. And some of the famous evangelists that have gone on before us.
KING: And one more e-mail from Jaime in Houston, Texas: "What's your favorite bible verse for gaining peace and getting through hard times?"
T.F. MESSNER: My favorite one is -- is --
R. MESSNER: Romans 8:28.
T.F. MESSNER: Romans 8:28. "For we know that all things work together for good to those who love god and those that are called according to his purpose."
KING: Tammy Faye, what, in your opinion, is the best way to deal with cancer?
T.F. MESSNER: With -- with -- accept it -- that you have it, and do whatever you can to help get rid of it. But most of all, trust the lord. I don't have any date written on me anywhere that says I'm going to die at any certain time and so I just give it to the lord.
KING: And you firmly believe that you're going to heaven?
T.F. MESSNER: I know for sure. I'm positive.
KING: And having that belief reduces fear -- it makes -- it should eliminate fear.
T.F. MESSNER: It does, Larry, to a certain extent. I would say 99 - to 100 percent.
KING: We'll take a break.
And when we come back in our remaining moments, Tammy Faye will be joined by her loyal husband Roe, her husband and the builder of churches. He's built so many of them, by the way, since 1953.
And we'll share some more moments with the Messners, right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY WOMEN'S ENTERTAINMENT)
T.F. MESSNER: Cancer is a very is a very -- is a very lonely disease, because nobody can go inside your head and nobody can fight it for you.
Thank god for my husband, who is just -- keeps me just above it all.
R. MESSNER: I'm going to lay down with you.
T.F. MESSNER: OK, baby.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY WOMEN'S ENTERTAINMENT)
T.F. MESSNER: If I died right now, I would consider myself one of the most fortunate women in the world to have lived and been able to do the kinds of things that I have been able to do in my life. And I'm very grateful to the Lord for taking a little girl who had nothing to give but was willing to try.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back in Kansas City, Missouri, as Tammy Faye Messner, former wife of televangelist Jim Bakker, long-time battle with inoperable cancer. With her is her husband Roe Messner, the builder of churches. He's built more than 1,700 churches since 1953.
By the way --
T.F. MESSNER: Isn't he -- isn't he cute?
KING: He's very cute, yes.
R. MESSNER: (LAUGHTER).
KING: By the way, do you still have prostate cancer, Roe?
R. MESSNER: Yes, I do, Larry. I've been very fortunate that the prostate cancer has stayed within the prostate. And, you know, the doctor told me years ago -- 10 years ago, as a matter of fact, when I was diagnosed with it, that I'd probably never die from prostate cancer. I'd die from a stroke or heart disease or something else.
And I've been very fortunate it has stayed contained in the prostate.
KING: You'll die with it, not of it.
R. MESSNER: That's it.
KING: Tammy Faye, I forgot to ask, how much do you weigh now?
T.F. MESSNER: I weigh -- I just weighed and I weigh 65 pounds.
KING: So that's a five pound gain from the last time we see --
T.F. MESSNER: Yes. Two-and-a-half, three pounds, yes.
KING: That's terrific.
How, Roe, are you dealing with this illness of your wife?
R. MESSNER: Well, it's very difficult, Larry. But I have strong faith in the lord and I know that all things work together for good. And we just continue to praise the lord and believe that he knows what's best for our lives.
KING: Despite that faith, isn't it very hard, Roe, to live with it?
R. MESSNER: I think the caregiver is -- has a very difficult time during something like this.
But we make it good, don't we, honey?
T.F. MESSNER: Yes. I keep him awake every night because I have to get up about two or three times a night for medication. And so he has to get up and help me with my medication.
KING: Now, Roe, I know you knew Ruth Graham, didn't you?
R. MESSNER: Yes, I did, Larry. As a matter of fact, I visited in their home there in Montreat, North Carolina up on the mountain. And I've -- I've done some design work for Billy. And they're just a great, great people.
KING: They are great.
She was some lady.
R. MESSNER: Yes, she was.
T.F. MESSNER: Yes.
KING: And, of course, Billy is incredible.
You know Billy well, Tammy?
T.F. MESSNER: Yes, I do. He's come to ""PTL"" many times and he's an awesome, awesome man.
R. MESSNER: Larry, I built Billy's home out there at "PTL," his childhood home.
R. MESSNER: We brought it out at Heritage USA and reassembled it. And that was a very interesting thing to do.
KING: Roe, what keeps her going?
R. MESSNER: Strong faith in the lord and a very positive attitude.
KING: And she -- does she have down times?
R. MESSNER: Not really. She's very positive all the time, Larry, even in all this pain and everything that's going on. She's -- she's unbelievable really.
T.F. MESSNER: Isn't that loveable?
He's so (INAUDIBLE).
R. MESSNER: I don't know how she does it.
KING: How do you do it, Tammy?
T.F. MESSNER: Well, again, faith in the lord. I just -- I just trust him with me.
KING: You keep that smile going, don't you?
T.F. MESSNER: I hope so.
KING: Does she wake up with a smile, Roe?
T.F. MESSNER: Always, Larry. She's very positive.
KING: Well, you're amazing people.
Tammy Faye, I wish you the best. I wish you all you wish yourself.
T.F. MESSNER: Thank you, Larry.
KING: I hope things go very well for you. And --
T.F. MESSNER: Thank you so much.
KING: -- when and if the end comes, no one will approach it better than you.
R. MESSNER: You know, Larry, we get hundreds of e-mails every day and letters. People are always asking Tammy about all these different questions, you know, about Heritage USA and Jim and Jerry Falwell, everybody. And, you know, she wrote a book that tells all about that. And if, you know, a lot of people would be interested in knowing about that -- it was a book she wrote called "Telling It My Way". And it answers all the questions of all the e-mails and the cards and letters that we get every day.
KING: Is it still available?
R. MESSNER: Still available.
KING: "Telling It My Way."
R. MESSNER: "Telling It My Way." KING: She did that tonight.
Thank you, Roe.
R. MESSNER: You bet.
KING: Tammy Faye, God bless.
T.F. MESSNER: God bless you, Larry.
KING: The one and only Tammy Faye in her last interview, the interview she asked us to do. She beat all the doctors' predictions, but she's now at peace and in the arms of the Lord she loved so much.
And we're left to marvel at her unique grace and humor in the face of her mortality. Tammy's spirit lives on, of course, and so do the memories -- lots more of those to share with you this hour.
Up next, one of the most talked about of Tammy Faye's many, many appearances on this show, her 2000 reunion with ex-husband Jim Bakker, when this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE returns.
KING: Welcome back to this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE, as we look back at our most memorable moments with one of our most memorable guests ever, Tammy Faye Messner, who's passed on after a long and courageous battle with inopoerable cancer.
Without a doubt, one of our biggest, most historic Tammy Faye shows was in May 2000, when she re-united right here with her ex- husband, Jim Bakker. It was their first time together on TV in 15 years, and came after Jim had done time in prison, following the PTL Club scandal, and after new marriages for both of them.
KING: How long has it been, Jim, since you and Tammy Faye were on television together?
JIM BAKKER, FORMER TELEVANGELIST: Fifteen years.
KING: Were you going into prison then?
JIM BAKKER: No, the last show we did was Ted Koppel, with the whole family. This is --
KING: That was before prison, right?
JIM BAKKER: Before prison.
KING: You remember that night well, Tammy?
T.F. MESSNER: Of course I rember that night well. KING: Is this a rough night for you?
T.F. MESSNER: It was an interesting night for me. Very interesting night for me. What else can I say?
T.F. MESSNER: Yes, interesting.
KING: For you, Jim? What does it feel like. I mean, you know each other, you have children. Obviously you are all friendly, you're all here together.
T.F. MESSNER: We all like each other.
JIM BAKKER: It brings back so many memories of the past, of the prison years and all. I try not to look back, because looking forward is so much better than looking backward.
KING: All we are, though, is a history of our experiences.
JIM BAKKER: Yes. Thank God for those valley years of prison and all, I learned so much. And I want to use that to go forward now.
KING: What was it like to be the wife of someone in prison?
T.F. MESSNER: It was very sad, especially since I felt he didn't deserve to be there. It made me -- we are -- it is memorial day and we are -- I would like to say thank you to the men who fought and died for this country and the women. But you know I was very saddened by what our country allowed to happen to this very good man.
KING: He remained to you a good man, even through divorce?
T.F. MESSNER: Oh, yes. Yes, always.
KING: And you, toward her, feel the same way?
JIM BAKKER: Yes, we -- we were in a situation that was unbelievable. I was in prison for 45 years. It meant that at my age I would have never gotten out of prison before I died.
And so I don't blame Tammy Faye for going on with her life. And you know, I...
KING: it was logical for her to divorce you just to have a life?
JIM BAKKER: After two years, about 100 percent, close to it, divorce that go to prison.
KING: Did you discuss it with Jim first or did...
T.F. MESSNER: Yes.
KING: You didn't surprise him? T.F. MESSNER: No. No, I did not surprise him. We discussed it. And what -- what we went through in our life was such -- it was like a horrible electrical shock that went through our life, and very few people could have survived what we survived. And I'm just grateful to God that we're still alive and that Jim's happy and I'm happy.
KING: All right. How do you think -- the spouses can help here in a couple of minutes -- that you were able to do it, Jim? What kept you going? Whether right or wrong, whether you did wrong or did right, what kept you going?
Nelson Mandela says that he didn't look at prison as a down. He took it as an up. He learned from it.
JIM BAKKER: The first months were so devastating. When you suddenly find yourself in prison facing 45 years, and my theology didn't allow for that at that time, and so it was like God had walked away from me. And I know millions of people have gone through experiences, saying, Why God?
And -- but as I studied the word of God and I had time to really get into the Bible, it was my faith in God, and God renewed my faith. My faith began to actually grow in prison after five years. It was the greatest training and seminary and intimate relationship with God that I could have ever had.
KING: Are you saying, in a sense, in retrospect it was good you did this?
JIM BAKKER: Absolutely. Absolutely.
KING: Good that you were in prison?
JIM BAKKER: Absolutely. I learned so much. And now working in the inner cities all over the world, I understand the people. And when I say I've been in prison, it's like it's better than being ordained, you know...
JIM BAKKER: ... because, you know, they respond to me, because they know I've been there.
KING: Are you a better preacher now?
JIM BAKKER: I feel like I'm more caring. I feel like people can look in my eyes and know, when they're telling me they hurt, they know I understand.
KING: You can help a lot of people, because a lot of it's in the news now, the Giuliani story and the Clinton story. You were able to forgive and overcome the worst thing a wife can hear. How were you able to do that?
T.F. MESSNER: The same thing that Jim just said, through God.
KING: And forgiveness, right?
T.F. MESSNER: Yes.
KING: But where do you get that?
T.F. MESSNER: I think forgiveness is a choice, Larry. And we -- our whole life is choices, is made up of choices.
KING: So you could have chosen to be bitter.
T.F. MESSNER: I could have chosen to be bitter and hated him or I could have chosen to forget. And it was very hard for me to forgive Jim, it was very hard. But once the divorce was final, I was able to forgive him and understand what happened and go on.
KING: And how did you feel about the forgiveness?
JIM BAKKER: The Bible is so clear. And this is what I studied in prison, is I began to study the words of Jesus Christ. He said if we don't forgive from our hearts everyone we'll not be forgiven.
Christ said, "Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy." I needed mercy. I needed forgiveness. So I wanted to give out to others what I needed.
KING: But did you respect a lot Tammy for forgiving you? Did you feel -- did you feel terrific that she was able to forgive this?
JIM BAKKER: Well, you know, whether she forgave me or not, you know, I had to forgive her, I had to forgive everyone. I mean, everyone who goes through a divorce, it's painful.
KING: You had to forgive yourself, too, right?
JIM BAKKER: And I took all the blame finally because I realized all the mistakes that I had made. I realized I had -- 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 in here?
T.F. 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'll meet them.
T.F. MESSNER: And I -- I like Jim.
KING: Tammy Faye Messner and Jim Bakker, May 29, 2000 -- their first time back together in 15 years.
And lots more to come, as we continue to share memories of the late, grat, Tammy Faye. Tha Bakker family reunion, when this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE returns, right after this.
KING: It's a historic night. They're here together, and they are, of course, Jim and Tammy Faye. Jim Bakker, who ministers through the New Covenant Fellowship, and Tammy Faye Messner, who's still preaching and singing -- and, by the way, is the focus of a major documentary called "The Eyes of Tammy Faye." We've met their spouses. We are now joined by Tammy Sue Bakker Chapman, Jim and Tammy Faye's daughter. She works with her father in his ministry, and she is the mother of two children. And Jay Bakker, Jim and Tammy Faye's son, he has his own ministry in Atlanta.
Tammy, you're 30, right?
TAMMY SUE BAKKER CHAPMAN, DAUGHTER OF JIM AND TAMMY FAYE: Yes.
KING: How old are you, Jay?
JAY BAKKER, SON OF JIM AND TAMMY FAYE: Twenty-four.
KING: So you're the elder?
CHAPMAN: I'm the elder, yes.
KING: What was it like when all this happened to your dad? How old were you?
CHAPMAN: I was 16, so I had been raised -- my whole life was television from day one, before I was even born, and was the ministry, and was PTL, Heritage USA. And so it was -- it was very, very devastating to say the least for me.
KING: Have you four been on together?
T.F. MESSNER: No.
KING: Never been on together?
T.F. MESSNER: Never.
JIM BAKKER: Never.
KING: Did you -- were you angry at father or mother?
CHAPMAN: No, I wasn't angry.
T.F. MESSNER: She ran away.
CHAPMAN: No, but -- no, it wasn't really anger or hurt. It was more of just being confused at losing everything overnight, literally overnight.
KING: Did you forgive your father as well?
CHAPMAN: I didn't have anything to forgive him.
KING: You never felt you had to forgive him for anything?
CHAPMAN: No, no.
KING: Were you too young, Jay, or did it hit you hard?
JAY BAKKER: No, it hit me really hard, like a ton of bricks.
KING: You were how old?
JAY BAKKER: I was 11 when it happened.
KING: And what happened to you? Friends at school?
JAY BAKKER: Twenty-four hours, my school had changed because my school was at Heritage USA. So my school had changed. I had bodyguards -- they were gone. I watched my parents' best friends -- I -- some of their best friends who have not talked to them to this day all disappeared. Hundreds of people disappeared. And it was quite a shock. I mean, I was in amazement. For the first time in my life, I was not surrounded by people being positive. I was barely surrounded by people at all. And it was a very negative feeling.
KING: And how did that effect play on you?
JAY BAKKER: It caused me to just somehow want to change my whole persona and become someone else.
KING: And tune out?
JAY BAKKER: And tune out, yes.
KING: Did you get rebellious?
JAY BAKKER: I did. I drank...
KING: I noticed you're tattooed.
JAY BAKKER: Well, these tattoos aren't really rebellion. These tattoos are all tattoos I've had since I have been a pastor.
KING: So they're pastorial tattoos?
JAY BAKKER: They're pastorial tattoos, yes.
KING: They're New Age tattoos.
JAY BAKKER: Yes.
CHAPMAN: That's right.
KING: And I notice you have the -- what is that on your lip?
JAY BAKKER: That's a lip ring, piercing.
KING: Lip ring, you have an eyebrow ring. All this is new or did this happen when you were 11?
JAY BAKKER: Oh, no. I just went all downhill -- cigarettes, tattoos, biking bars...
KING: Did you go wrong, though? I mean, did you have a tough time?
JAY BAKKER: I had a tough time. I think I had the normal tough time that any teenager would have with drinking and drugs, but I also had the affect of my father being in prison. And that was hardest thing, and watching my parents going through a divorce and everyone knowing about it and talking about it in school. So that was really, really devastating -- and the rejection of the church was very devastating.
KING: Were you married at the time, Tammy, when they were divorced?
CHAPMAN: No. We got -- well, when they were divorced, yes.
KING: When they were divorced, you had since gotten married.
Did that marriage help you a lot to handle all this, your father in jail and everything?
CHAPMAN: Oh, yes, yes. And friends, marriage and friends, and family.
KING: What does your husband do?
CHAPMAN: What does he do now?
CHAPMAN: He works in communications.
KING: I see. It's a good marriage?
CHAPMAN: Yes, 14 years actually May 21st, this past Sunday.
KING: So you got married very young?
CHAPMAN: Yes, 17. Got married young.
KING: What was it like for you with your dad in jail?
CHAPMAN: Well, it was -- it was very hard. We lived in a home out in the country with my children. And he was there for the birth of my first son, James, but the second, my second son, Jonathan, my family was not able to be there. We're very -- we had been, you know, a very close-knit family, and so he wasn't there for that. And there was -- it was a lonely time.
KING: Welcome back. When I continued my interview with Tammy Faye and her family, back on that historic night in 2000, I began by asking Jim and Tammy's daughter, Tammy Sue, about the impact of her parents' divorce.
CHAPMAN: Divorce, it affects, no matter if you're 5 years old or 30 or 25, you know, divorce affects you.
KING: Affected more by the fact that it's in all the papers? As Jay mentioned. I mean, people get divorced, they don't read about it.
CHAPMAN: No, they don't. Losing Heritage and the divorce and our lives in general, you know, being out there to where when you go to the grocery store you're checking out, and there's the rag magazines, there's everything, so you live in it. And then you're -- you might be having a great day. You go to the grocery store, you go to check out, and it's there in the face again.
JIM BAKKER: Tell him about paging.
CHAPMAN: Or when you're flipping television, you know, shows and they're making fun or saying something -- it never goes away.
KING: What does he mean by paging? What did you mean, Jim?
CHAPMAN: Oh, that -- we don't need to tell him -- we don't have to tell him that.
KING: What was it?
JIM BAKKER: In the -- in the market...
CHAPMAN: Well, I'll tell it. I'll tell it.
We don't have to tell it but I'll tell it. KING: Daughter rules.
JIM BAKKER: She won't talk about the past. She doesn't...
CHAPMAN: Well, the past is in the past. But...
KING: Well, we all -- we learn from it.
CHAPMAN: We do learn from it, and that's what I thank God the most is I thank God for Him allowing me to go through the pain and the adversity that I went through in my life because I learned lessons, great lessons that I wouldn't be the person that I am today...
KING: What's the paging?
CHAPMAN: ... if I hadn't learned from that.
Well, when we first lost Heritage, I was in -- never moved from Charlotte -- I've always state in Charlotte -- and went into a few of the store. One of the first -- first one was in a grocery store, and they called my name over the loudspeaker. And they had guys, a couple of the guys that were bagging were following me through the grocery store, and they were yelling out, you know, your dad's a fag, and yelling out all these horrible things to the point where I did not go -- it happened in a couple of different stores. And I didn't go into a market or a store for about six months after.
KING: And at 11, Jay, boy, your friends -- friends that weren't friends anymore, right?
JAY BAKKER: Yes, and parents who wouldn't let their kids hang out with me anymore. And for some reason, it felt like the parents always needed to express to me why they didn't like my mom and dad anymore. And that was very hard to go over to someone's house, and I became a professional defender of my mom and dad because of that.
KING: At that age?
JAY BAKKER: At that age. And I spent most of my life, even some to this day, defending my parents.
KING: Were you not angry at your dad?
JAY BAKKER: No, I wasn't, not at all.
KING: Did you feel that people had been hurt because of them?
JAY BAKKER: I feel that people were hurt because they put unrealistic expectations on them. I think the biggest trouble with Christianity today and the church today is that we make our pastors into superhumans and like they're not real people, and that's just not realistic.
Jesus didn't have -- I mean, Jesus was a friend of sinners. His best friend was Mary Magdalene, a prostitute. Peter, who was -- he said was the rock, his foundation, denied him three times. And somehow we've gotten something ridiculous where we think people are perfect.
So I was more let down with religious tradition, and you know...
KING: But never angry at them?
JAY BAKKER: No, I was -- I was -- I was a little confused when the divorce happened, you know? I was upset with mom.
KING: You thought she was wrong?
JAY BAKKER: 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 -- you know, it was our first argument. So, that was the only time that was a really hard time.
KING: do you like roe?
JAY BAKKER: Yes. Oh, I love roe. Me and Roe get along really great and...
KING: But you just felt that she shouldn't have left your father?
JAY BAKKER: Yes. At the time I did.
KING: And you, Tammy?
CHAPMAN: As far as?
KING: Leaving your father?
T.F. MESSNER: Your mother.
KING: Were you mad at your mother?
CHAPMAN: No, I -- I mean, it was -- you know, it's -- it was just a rough time. You know? But I wasn't angry at either one of my parents.
KING: How do you like Lori?
CHAPMAN: I love Lori. Love Roe. Love my mom, love my dad. We have a great thing going with the family members.
KING: Do you like Lori?
JAY BAKKER: Love Lori. I've known Lori forever.
KING: Oh yes, that's right. She met through you. She was -- what was the biggest -- did you hit low skids?
JAY BAKKER: Yes. I'd say the lowest was when I started to get acid flashbacks. I thought I was going crazy.
KING: How old?
JAY BAKKER: About 15 -- about 16.
KING: Your father was in jail?
JAY BAKKER: Yes. KING: He had no knowledge of this.
JAY BAKKER: I -- we actually flew out to tell him. I thought I was going crazy.
JIM BAKKER: Yes, it was unbelievable to be in prison and not be able to...
KING: You can't help him.
JIM BAKKER: To try to raise a son from inside the prison walls is a very difficult thing. But I want to say to the world my son at 16 was the one who tried the most to get me out of prison. He wrote every -- the president, the senators. He called president -- he called the White House. He called ever every major Christian leader in the world.
And he's writing a book right now that's going to be a little bit stronger than my book. But he really went through hell to get me out of prison.
T.F. MESSNER: Larry, I would like to say something. When we lost Heritage USA, I didn't care about me and I didn't care about Jim. But I asked God what's going to happen to my children. And I felt in my heart, God promised me, I'm going to take care of your children, and the most wonderful thing in my whole life today is that my children are serving the Lord.
KING: Did you know that Jay was in trouble?
T.F. MESSNER: Oh, of course, yes. Oh, we were together all of the time, and all I could do was pray for him, because I would say, God, I trust you to take care of my child.
KING: And you didn't have a problem, Tammy?
KING: No drugs or anything.
KING: We'll be back with more of this incredible tale and the optimism it brings. Don't go away.
SANCHEZ: Hi, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez.
Are you ready for a YouTube debate? Obviously, the big one is tomorrow, but tonight we're going to be doing our own version of a YouTube debate with some YouTubers.
Obviously, the big news tonight is going to be out of Pakistan. There's some important information that we need to share with you about that. But then we're going to be talking to these folks -- see them right here?
Give me a wide shot, if you can, Roger.
This is the youth of America -- YouTubers, some would call them -- talking about the issues of the day and the presidential candidates.
We'll see you right here, after Larry.
KING: All of this has done what for this group, do you think?
CHAPMAN: It's made us stronger.
T.F. MESSNER: It's the truth, all of it.
CHAPMAN: It made us stronger.
KING: All of you feel closer to God?
T.F. MESSNER: Yes.
CHAPMAN: Closer, deeper -- closer to God than I've ever been.
J. BAKKER: Yes.
KING: There is no bitterness here, no anger?
CHAPMAN: None, none.
T.F. MESSNER: None, no, no.
KING: Don't you feel anger at Jerry Falwell?
J. BAKKER: You know, it's not anger at Jerry Falwell. I had to forgive him. It is what some of those type of pastors represent of what they're preaching that I feel needs to stop. But you know what? Paul -- when Paul was in prison he was talking about how there were preachers there in the prison who were preaching just to make him mad, but he goes, I thank God anyway that the gospel is being preached.
T.F. MESSNER: Yes.
J. BAKKER: And that's how I feel about it. There's -- you know, thank God it's being preached.
KING: I think I hit the wrong button. Naples, hello.
KING: Hi. What's the question?
CALLER: Well, I was going to ask him about Jerry Falwell and I was going to mention to them that we just praise and thank God for them that -- well, they have been such a blessing to the people.
T.F. MESSNER: Thank you.
KING: All right, what about your feelings toward Mr. Falwell, Jim? He seemed to turn on you.
JIM BAKKER: I went through a total forgiveness, and Jamie actually brought Jerry Falwell to the last prison to meet with me and -- for reconciliation.
KING: When you were out of prison.
T.F. MESSNER: No.
JIM BAKKER: No, when...
CHAPMAN: No, in prison.
JIM BAKKER: The last prison I was in. Jerry Falwell came to that prison with Jamie child.
JIM BAKKER: And Jamie was -- didn't want him to come, because he was afraid -- he said, these people are going to kill you, they'll do you in. And Jamie went and met with him and then flew to the prison, and my son brought Jerry Falwell -- my son has taught me so much about grace and forgiveness that when I was living on the farm not forgiving myself, Jamie would call me on the phone and say, Dad, look what the Bible says, we're saved by grace, not works, and it was awesome.
KING: You forgive Jerry?
T.F. MESSNER: Yes.
KING: You do?
T.F. MESSNER: If I saw Jerry I would just -- you're going to laugh -- but I would burst out crying, and the only question I would ever ask Jerry is just why? Why? Because we loved Jerry. We trusted Jerry, and that's what hurt me as...
KING: Tammy Sue, do you have any feelings one way or the other?
CHAPMAN: I have forgiven him.
KING: So you have no bitterness, no one here has bitterness toward anyone?
T.F. MESSNER: No, no.
JIM BAKKER: No.
J. BAKKER: Well, I mean, we are humans. I sometimes -- you know, I have to -- forgiving is daily to me.
T.F. MESSNER: It is, and it's an ongoing thing, that's right.
JAY BAKKER: There is times where I've been in Bible study and Jerry Falwell has come up and I've torn him apart and then had to go back to my Bible study and apologize.
KING: Jay just said it's so weird having you all together. I guess it is weird.
JAY BAKKER: Weird. Only Larry King...
T.F. MESSNER: Especially back on TV.
CHAPMAN: We would only do this for you.
JAY BAKKER: Well, I mean, it's...
CHAPMAN: Only for him.
JAY BAKKER: It's been real healing for me even watching the green room, because I felt like I was back at PTL in the green room. And the sad thing is and people that will have -- came from the divorce is people always miss the chemistry that they have, because you have seen it here tonight.
KING: Orlando, Florida, hello. One more call. Hello?
CALLER: Would Jim and Tammy consider doing a TV show together again?
KING: Tammy says yes, Jim says no.
KING: You would not work together again?
JIM BAKKER: We've got -- I've got so much going on I don't think it will ever happen.
KING: All right, some closing thoughts, Tammy, you want to be a singing star, you want a big record?
CHAPMAN: Yes, yes, I do.
KING: You ready to be able to be in show business and raise children?
CHAPMAN: Yes, I am.
KING: Husband has no problem with that?
CHAPMAN: Not any problems, no.
KING: Your goal, Jay?
JAY BAKKER: To let people see the unconditional love of Christ in the church, that people will see who Jesus really is and that will get rid of man's religion and tradition in the church.
KING: You minister to a lot of young people?
JAY BAKKER: I minister to punk rock kids, Gothic kids, you know, the Columbine-type kids. Those are the kids I work with.
KING: What is your goal, Tammy Faye, now?
T.F. MESSNER: My heart is for young people and someday I would love to do a talk show for young people. I'd really like...
KING: You want to go back on TV?
T.F. MESSNER: Yes.
KING: Nice goal. TV misses you.
T.F. MESSNER: Thank you, Larry.
KING: And Jim?
JIM BAKKER: Lori and I are going to tell the world that when the world falls apart, even if you feel like Humpty-Dumpty, you had a great fall, and all the king's horses and all the king's men...
T.F. MESSNER: Hey, you're stealing my line.
JIM BAKKER: ... can't put you back together again, that God puts you back.
T.F. MESSNER: Yes, he sure does. That's right.
JIM BAKKER: When it's impossible, God puts it back together.
T.F. MESSNER: Yes, he does.
KING: And are you going to minister in prisons?
JIM BAKKER: Yes, oh, yes.
KING: I know you work a lot in the poorer communities, right?
JIM BAKKER: Chuck Colson has asked me several times to come and I'm hoping to be a part of some of their special crusades in prison.
T.F. MESSNER: I would like to do that, too, I would like to minister in prisons.
KING: You work a lot in poorer communities, too?
JIM BAKKER: All over America.
KING: And both of you as you go on with your own lives have to be very proud of these two kids.
T.F. MESSNER: We are.
JIM BAKKER: I want to say hi to all the gang at Joe Johnson in the ghetto.
KING: Are they watching?
JIM BAKKER: Yes.
T.F. MESSNER: Hi, James and Jonathan, it's your grandma.
KING: They know who you are.
JAY BAKKER: I'm not sure.
KING: Thanks a lot.
JAY BAKKER: Thank you, it's a pleasure.
KING: Thank you.
T.F. MESSNER: Thanks, Larry.
KING: God bless, thanks.
KING: Tammy Faye Messner was one-of-a-kind, and nothing short of amazing. Wearing her great big heart on her sleeve, she lived her life with dignity, even under a harsh spotlight in the late 1980s. At one point, she was most famous for her mascara-stained tears, but she never lost her ability to lacuh, especially at herself.
She glided through life with a grace that seemed effortless, from loyal minister's wife to media icon to cancer patient, with an amazing optimistic outlook.
I'll share a little story: after one of her last in-studio appearances here, Tammy Faye accidentally left her makeup bag behind when she left. Can you imagine? Her makeup bag! A producer called to let her know it was here and joked that such a find in the wrong hands could be worth a lot on the black market. She let loose with one of her trademark giggles and a few minutes later showed up with her driver, reached out the back window of the limo, took that important piece of cargo with one hand, blew a kiss with the other and laughed as she said, thanks for not selling it on eBay.
That laughter of hers continued to the very end and lives forever in the hearts and minds of all of her many fans all over the world.
Rest in peace, Tammy Faye.
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