- (Photo: CNN / Rose M. Prouser, File)
Famed 80s televangelist Tammy Faye Messner passed away over the weekend at the age of 65, according to her manager on Saturday.
The woman who was dealt a life of controversy, including a corrupted multi-million dollar ministry and uncontrollable addiction, took her last breath following a bout with cancer at her home near Kansas City, Mo., on Friday morning.
Messner appeared on Larry King Live the night before she died, and spoke about her faith in God and the difficulties that come with cancer.
"The family appreciates all of the well wishes of so many people," the CNN talk show host explained Saturday night after her death. "She died peacefully. Anyone who saw her on our show this week knew that she didn't have long."
Messner has had a life full of ups-and-downs. She became one of the most recognizable Christian celebrities in America in the 1980s alongside her former husband Jim Bakker. Starting in 1974, the two built the PTL (Praise the Lord/People that Love) Network which brought in $128 million annually with more than 12 million subscribers.
The ministry fell apart after intense scandal, however. Her husband of 30 years had been involved in a secret seven-year affair, and in 1989, he was convicted of 24 counts of fraud which led to a 45-year prison sentence. Messner, then Tammy Faye Bakker, divorced him while he was incarcerated.
"I have gotten over that [PTC experience], thank God, replied the televangelist to King during her CNN interview. That was a terrible, horribly bad experience."
Her problems did not stop just with her old network, however. In 1987, she admitted herself into the Betty Ford Center because of a prescription drug addiction.
Since 1996, she has had to battle colon cancer. It spread to her lungs in 2004 and had gotten so bad that doctors decided to quit treatment in May 2007. The disease took a toll on the woman; she only weighed 65 pounds in her last days and had trouble swallowing due to constant pain.
Despite all her problems, she still retained her faith, however, and felt that the Lord was still protecting her during her troubles.
"Don't let fear rule your life," she said in a statement. "Live one day at a time, and never be afraid."
Her former husband responded to her death, explaining that she truly lived by her motto of making lemons into lemonade.
"Tammy Faye's deep faith in God has kept her throughout her life as well as during these last days of her life. In her last 48 hours, she shared her faith in Jesus Christ on worldwide television with millions of people," expressed Jim Bakker in a statement. "She is now in heaven with her mother and grandmother and Jesus Christ, the one who she loves and has served from childbirth. That is the comfort I can give to all who loved her."
A family funeral service was held on Saturday in a private cemetery. Messners remains were cremated and interred onto the grounds.
In the Christian spirit, a celebration is planned rather than focusing on the grief.
"She wanted a party," explained King on Saturday night. "They're going to schedule a party in two to three weeks in Palm Springs, Calif. Her friends will be invited. And she wanted it to be a celebration.
In her last words during her Thursday interview with King, Messner expressed her desire for people to find the Lord and her heart-felt love for everyone that has supported her.
"I'd like to say that I genuinely love you (fans), and I genuinely care, and I genuinely want to see you in heaven someday, spoke the woman. I want you to find peace. I want you to find joy."
Messner is survived by her husband church contractor Roe Messner and her two children with Bakker.