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Kathie Lee Gifford’s New Role

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Two of America’s biggest born-again tabloid sensations are getting together in a stage musical with all the hoopla of a tent revival meeting. One is Kathie Lee Gifford, the public Christian and former morning talk-show matron whose repeated bouts with the unforgiving press finally drove her to resign her spot on “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee.” The other is Aimee Semple McPherson, the Pentecostal preacher whose mix of theatricality, sex appeal and old-time Christianity blossomed in the 1920s into global fame at the helm of her own Los Angeles megachurch.

Gifford, who told The Washington Post that she’s been fascinated with McPherson for 35 years, has written the book and lyrics to “Saving Aimee,” a musical that premiered recently at the Signature Theater outside Washington to warm reviews.

Once a household name, “Sister Aimee” is enjoying a bit of a comeback lately, including a recent PBS special. And why not? We live in an age that understands her methods–she was among the first to use the media to expand her ministry and to extend her fame through scandal: McPherson was suspected of faking her own kidnapping to drive up her radio numbers (and possibly to cover up an affair with her engineer).

“She was the very first tabloid queen,” says Gifford, who briefly inherited that crown after her husband, former New York Giants star and “Monday Night Football” personality Frank Gifford, was lured into a compromising position by a woman in the employ of a salacious newspaper.



  • http://www.justjeff.info Jeff Hamilton

    Dear Mr. O’Donnell: There are some Urban Legends that refuse to go away. One is regarding Aimee Semple McPherson’s kidnapping. There are plenty of resources (including the recent PBS special you mentioned) that address this situation and the rumors surround the events. Yet, no level of transparency seems to be able to change the perception of the many in the press of McPherson as anything other than a scandalous figure. Instead, her ministry should be recognized for what it was – a cutting-edge ministry reaching the culture with the Gospel using the most relevant methods of the day; a forerunner and model for ministries such as Willow Creek Church, Saddleback Church, and Lakewood Church.

  • http://www.ei-tents.com/ EVANGELIST BUFORD DOWELL

    I APPRECIATE YOUR POSITIVE ArSESMENT OF AMIE MC PHERSONS MINISTRY!
    MY FATHER AND MOST OF MY AUNTS AND UNCLES, WERE EVANGELIST ALSO.
    I TO HAVE TRAVELED 58 NATIONS, OVER 4,500,000 MILES, PREACHING THE
    GOSPEL OF CHRIST AND MINITERING TO HURTING PEOPLE!
    WHEN I WAS A BOY,(6 YRS) MY PARENTS TOOK ME TO A MEETING AT ANGELOUS
    TEMPLE.
    I SAW SIS. MC PHERSON! I SAW AMAZING MIRACLES, WHEN SHE PRAYED FOR
    THE SICK!
    MY UNCLE WAS DYING OF T.B., AND IN THE L.A. VETERANS HOSPITAL, WITH
    LARGE CAVITIES IN HIS LUNGS! HE WIFE TOOK HIM BY AMBULANCE, TO SIS.
    MC PHERSONS MEETING AT THE TEMPLE, AND HE WAS MIRACULOUSLY HEALED!
    LATER YRS, I TRAVELED AS CRUSADE ORGANIST(LATER-RADIO AND TV PRODUCER)FOR MOST OF THE HEALING EVANGELIST, IN GREAT TENT AND AUD-
    ITORIUM CRUSADES, FOR 38 YRS!
    SIS. MC PHERSON, LEFT BEHIND THE FOURSQUARE CHURCHES, AROUND THE
    WORLD AND A GREAT BIBLE COLLAGE!
    I WISH YOU WELL. BE BLESSED- BUFORDDOWELL@GMAIL.COM

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