Aimee Semple McPherson

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Aimee Semple McPherson
Born Aimee Elizabeth Kennedy
October 9, 1890(1890-10-09)
Salford, Ontario
Died September 27, 1944 (aged 53)
Oakland, California
Cause of death Barbiturate overdose
Resting place Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery
Known for International Church of the Foursquare Gospel
Spouse(s) Robert James Semple (Died 1910)
Harold Stewart McPherson (Divorced 1921)
David Hutton (Divorced 1931)
Children Roberta Star Semple
Rolf McPherson
Parents James Morgan Kennedy
Mildred Ona Pearce

Aimee Semple McPherson (October 9, 1890September 27, 1944), also known as "Sister Aimee" or "Sister," was a Canadian-born evangelist and media sensation in the 1920s and 1930s; she was also the founder of the Foursquare Church.[1] She was a pioneer in the use of modern media, especially radio, to create a form of religion that drew heavily on the appeal of popular entertainment.


[edit] Early life

McPherson was born Aimee Elizabeth Kennedy on October 9, 1890, on a farm near the town of Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada. [2] Her father, James Kennedy, was a farmer, and her mother, Mildred, called Minnie, worked for the Salvation Army.[3] Little is written about McPherson's father, and it is unclear what impact James Kennedy had on his daughter. It was through her mother that McPherson got her first exposure to religious exercise, which would have an impact on her later evangelical crusades. Mrs. Kennedy’s work with the Salvation Army included providing for people through soup kitchens. This reflected her idea of bringing faith to the people, which was reflected in Aimee’s later work in spreading the Gospel.

Historian Matthew Avery Sutton in his biography of McPherson documents that as a child, one of McPherson's favorite games was to play Salvation Army with her classmates, and at home she would create a congregation out of her dolls and would give them a sermon.[4] Yet as a teenager, McPherson would stray from the teachings of her mother. She started to read novels and attend movies and dances, all things the Salvation Army disapproved of at the time. Even more shattering to her faith, McPherson while in high school was introduced to the teachings of Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution.[5]

McPherson was deeply confused and wrestled with her conscience over who was right: her mother's faith or her high school geology teacher. McPherson began to quiz local pastors over the relationship between faith and science. None of the pastors were able to give her the answer she was looking for.[6] In frustration, McPherson sent a letter to a national Canadian newspaper, the Family Herald and Weekly Star, asking why taxpayers supported public schools that taught evolution.[7] Later, while still in high school, she began a crusade against evolution, which would remain a life-long passion for her. This crusade also brought the teenager her first taste of celebrity as her letter brought responses from all over North America, according to Sutton.

[edit] Career

Robert and Aimee Semple, 1910

[edit] Evangelical beginnings

In December 1907, she met her first husband Robert James Semple, a Pentecostal missionary from Ireland, while attending a revival meeting at the urging of her father. After her conversion and a short courtship, they were married on August 12, 1908.

Shortly thereafter, the two embarked on an evangelistic tour, first to Europe and then to China, where they arrived in June 1910. Shortly after they disembarked in Hong Kong, however, they both contracted dysentery. Robert Semple died of the disease on August 19, 1910. Aimee Semple recovered, giving birth to a daughter, Roberta Star Semple, on September 17, after which she returned to the United States. Roberta died on January 25, 2007 at age 96.

Aimee Semple's mother "Minnie" had, in the footsteps of her foster parents, remained active with the Salvation Army, and after a short recuperation, Semple joined her in this work. While so occupied in New York, she met her second husband, Harold Stewart McPherson, an accountant. They were married on May 5, 1912, and they had a son, Rolf Potter Kennedy McPherson, born March 23, 1913.

After the birth of her son, McPherson suffered from postpartum depression and several serious health issues. She tried to settle into a quieter home-life, but her personal call to Christian service remained. While in her sickbed after her second operation within two years, she recommitted herself to what she felt was God's call. Soon thereafter, her health improved. After this near-death experience in 1913, she embarked upon a preaching career in Canada and the United States. In keeping with the promise to God made in her illness, she left home by June 1915 and began evangelizing and holding tent revivals, first by traveling up and down the eastern part of the United States, then expanding to other parts of the country.

Her revivals were often standing room only; on one occasion she met in a boxing ring, but had to hold her meeting before and after the boxing match. According to the PBS-TV American Experience documentary "Sister Aimee," she did, however, walk around during the match with a sign inviting the crowd to attend her service after the match and "knock out the Devil". On one occasion in San Diego, the National Guard had to be brought in to control the crowd of over 30,000 people. People often stood in line to wait many hours for the next service to begin in order to be assured a seat. McPherson was committed to saving as many people as possible and did what she could to ensure the message she was providing was reaching as many as it could. McPherson had practiced speaking in tongues, although she rarely emphasized it the way the majority of Pentecostals had previously. She also had been considered a great faith healer, with numerous claims of physical healing taking place, although this is something that became less important as her fame increased over the years.

The "Gospel Car", 1918

In 1916, in the company of her mother, Mildred Kennedy, she made a tour of the southern United States in her "Gospel Car", a 1912 Packard touring car emblazoned with religious slogans. Standing in the back seat of the convertible, she gave sermons through a megaphone. On the road between sermons, she sat in the back seat typing sermons and other religious materials. By 1917 she had started her own magazine, The Bridal Call, for which she wrote many articles that focused on women’s roles in religion and illustrated the connection she perceived between Christians and Jesus as a marriage bond. The magazine contributed to the rising women’s movement that McPherson probably did not foresee in its fruition. These actions were the beginning of McPherson’s use of new media and propaganda to spread her gospel.

The battle between fundamentalists and modernists only escalated after World War I, with many fundamentalists abandoning their faith to seek less traditional and conservative religious faiths. Fundamentalists generally believed their religious faith should influence every aspect of their lives. McPherson, too, believed this to be crucial for the well-being of all Americans and sought to eradicate modernism and secularism in homes, churches, schools, and communities.

It was time of transformation in lifestyles; people were moving away from traditional values that coincided with religion. The 1920s was a time when religious groups had a high profile. It was popular to go to séances and such events. Cults and spirituality were on the rise. There was a broad diversity of religions spreading in that times. McPherson developed a strong following in the Four Square Gospel because she was able to blend contemporary culture with religious teachings.

At this same time, the population of Los Angeles increased dramatically to 1,238,048 residents by 1930. The number of immigrants arriving increased, increasing racial intolerance. The nation viewed non-whites as outsiders. There was a rise in the Ku Klux Klan in Los Angeles, which until the turn of the century had been confined to the South. Anyone who was viewed as a threat to traditional conservative America was targeted. McPherson was able to gain supporters from all walks of life. She was known to have affiliations with the KKK as well as with minority immigrants. She had hoped to be an example to others to not discriminate against others, to be the one to break down barriers of race, in the name of serving God.

Aimee McPherson brilliantly recognized the rise of Los Angeles during the Progressive era. Los Angeles at the time was a popular vacation spot. Instead of touring around the United States to preach her sermons, she used the rising popularity of Los Angeles and let the people come to her. In 1900 the population of Los Angeles was 100,000, by 1920 it climbed up to 575,000 people, and by 1940 it had skyrocketed to 1.5 million in population. McPherson’s early recognition of Los Angeles as a rising city is extremely crucial in her career.

While McPherson preached a conservative gospel, she was doing so in a progressive time. Her use of radio, movies, and stage acts was a commentary on the state of the country in the 1920s. Advocacy for women’s rights was on the rise (including women’s suffrage by means of the 19th Amendment) and McPherson was able to gain support from many women associated with modernism, such as "flappers". This created a great deal of contradiction in her preaching about the evils of modernity. In addition, by accepting and using these new media outlets, she helped to integrate them into people’s daily lives, which also contradicted her stated disapproval of them. Although her husband initially made efforts to join her on her religious travels, he soon became frustrated with the situation, and by 1918 had filed for separation. His petition for divorce, citing abandonment, was granted in 1921.

[edit] International Church of the Foursquare Gospel

McPherson spent several years, from 1918 to 1922 as an itinerant Pentecostal preacher. Weary of constant traveling and having no place to raise a family, she eventually settled in Los Angeles, which became her base of operation, and she maintained both a home and a church there. Her move to Los Angeles was prompted by the idea that California was a tourist attraction and growing into an even larger one by the day. McPherson had a large impact in the rise of the West during the beginning of the 20th century. She believed that by creating a church in Los Angeles it would allow her audience to come to her from all over the country; she could then plant the seed of the Foursquare gospel and the tourists would take it home to their communities, thus taking the traveling out of her preaching, while still reaching the masses. For several years she continued to travel and raise money for the construction of a large, domed church building in the Echo Park area of Los Angeles, named Angelus Temple. Aimee had been known to be a great fund raiser and this was a great example of her abilities; she raised more than she had imagined and altered the original plans for the smaller scale church in order to build a "mega church" that would draw many followers throughout the years. The church was eventually built, and dedicated on January 1, 1923. It had a seating capacity of 5,300 people and was filled to capacity three times each day, seven days a week. In the beginning, McPherson preached every service, often in a dramatic scene she had envisioned and put together to attract audiences. The church eventually evolved into its own denomination, called the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. The foursquare gospel focused on the nature of Christ's character - that he was savior, baptizer with the Holy Spirit, healer and coming king. The foursquare gospel consisted of four main beliefs; the first being Christs ability to transform individuals' lives through the act of salvation. This life-changing experience separated Christians from non-Christians, according to McPherson. The second main element focused on a holy baptism. The third was divine healing and the fourth was gospel-oriented focusing on the premillennial return of Christ.The church became noted for its community services, particularly during the Great Depression.

Aimee Semple McPherson battles the Gorilla of Evolution.

McPherson was famous both inside and outside religious circles. Every city where services were held usually had civic leaders in attendance, as well as pastors representing the local churches of many denominations. She made sure that Angelus Temple was represented in local parades and entered floats in the Rose Parade in Pasadena. Her illustrated sermons attracted people from the entertainment industry, looking to see a "show" that rivaled what Hollywood had to offer. These famous stage productions drew people who would never have thought to enter a church, and then presented them with her interpretation of the message of salvation. McPherson believed that the Gospel was to be presented at every opportunity, and used worldly means at her disposal to present it to as many as possible. Her sermons, unlike other contemporaries, such as Billy Sunday, were not the usual fire-and-brimstone messages, but were based around a more friendly interpretation of Christian texts.

McPherson often based her sermons around events that took place in her life; she then related them to the Bible and acted them out on Sunday evening. For instance, in August 1925, McPherson decided to charter a plane so she wouldn't miss a Sunday sermon. Never one to miss out on an opportunity for publicity, Aimee had at least two thousand followers and members of the press at the site of her takeoff. When the plane failed after takeoff and the landing gear collapsed, sending the nose of the plane into the ground, bystanders were shocked. McPherson, however, boarded a different plane the same day (after obtaining a $100,000 life insurance policy) and completed her journey. She used the life-threatening experience as the narrative of an illustrated Sunday sermon entitled "The Heavenly Airplane". The stage in Angelus Temple was set up with two miniature planes and a skyline that was reminiscent of Los Angeles. In her sermon, McPherson described how the first plane had the devil for the pilot, sin for the engine, and temptation as the propeller. The other plane, conversely, was piloted by Jesus and would lead one to the Holy City (the skyline depicted on stage). Thousands were turned away that night from Angelus Temple in an attempt to view the highly publicized sermon. The temple was filled beyond capacity. This was not the only time McPherson used personal experiences to narrate her illustrated sermons. One one occasion, she even described being pulled over by a police officer, calling the sermon, "Arrested for Speeding". McPherson employed a small group called the Construction Gang, who built the sets for each Sunday's service. The group included artists, electricians, decorators and carpenters. Labor and costs were not an issue for McPherson. Those who arrived early to these illustrated Sunday night sermons enjoyed religious music played by an orchestra. McPherson treated her sermons not as church, but a Broadway production, something that she was very against. Matthew Avery Sutton described her logic: "McPherson found no contradiction between her rejection of Hollywood values for her use of show business techniques. She would not hesitate to use the devil's tools to tear down the devil's house."[8]

She was also skillful at fundraising. Collections were taken at every meeting, often with the admonishment of "no coins, please". When the $1.5 million Angelus Temple opened its doors, construction was already entirely paid for through private donations.

Since Pentecostalism was not popular in the U.S. during the 1920s, she avoided the label, although she was heavily influenced by this faith, incorporating demonstrations of speaking-in-tongues and faith healing in sermons, and keeping a museum of crutches, wheelchairs and other paraphernalia. She was also strongly influenced by the Salvation Army. In a campaign to spread the church nationwide, she adopted a theme of "lighthouses" for the satellite churches, referring to the parent church as the "Salvation Navy". Always seeking publicity, McPherson continued publishing the weekly Foursquare Crusader and the monthly magazine Bridal Call. She also began broadcasting on radio in the early 1920s. McPherson was the first woman to preach a radio sermon, and with the opening of Foursquare Gospel-owned KFSG (now KTLK AM 1150) on February 6, 1924, she also became the first woman to be granted a broadcast license by the Federal Radio Commission (which became the Federal Communications Commission in 1934).

Angelus Temple in Echo Park. Notice the radio towers.

McPherson is also credited with integrating her tent meetings and church services. She broke down racial barriers such that on one occasion at Angelus Temple, some Ku Klux Klan members were in attendance, but after the service, many of their hoods and robes were found on the ground in nearby Echo Park. She is also credited with helping many of the Hispanic ministries in Los Angeles get started, and even had a large Gypsy following, after the wife of a Gypsy chief and the chief himself had been healed in a Denver revival meeting.

In 1925, the license for KFSG was suspended by the Commerce Department for deviating from its assigned frequency. McPherson received several death threats in 1925, and an alleged plot to kidnap her was foiled in September of that year, thus setting the stage for the episode for which she is perhaps best known.

[edit] Politics and education

At the beginning of 1926 the famed evangelist known to many as Sister Aimee had risen to become one of the most charismatic and influential persons of her time. According to Carey McWilliams, a journalist of the era at the time of her trip to the Holy Land, she had become "more than just a household word: she was a folk hero and a civic institution; an honorary member of the fire and police departments; a patron saint of the service clubs; an official spokesman for the community on problems grave and frivolous".[9] She had transformed her power of spreading the gospel of her religion into being influential in many social, educational and political areas. McPherson made personal crusades in the name of the Lord against anything that she felt threatened her Christian ideals, including alcohol and the teaching of evolution in the schools.

Aimee Semple McPherson was very opposed to teaching evolution and became a big supporter of William Jennings Bryan during the Scopes Trial. In 1925 John Scopes was tried for teaching evolution in a Tennessee school, which was illegal at the time. Bryan and McPherson had worked together in the Angelus Temple on numerous occasions (Sutton 52). They both found the social implications as much as the theological ramifications of evolution troubling and they believed that social Darwinism had undermined students' morality (Sutton 52). According to McPherson, as was quoted by the New Yorker, evolution "is the greatest triumph of Satanic intelligence in 5,931 years of devilish warfare, against the Hosts of Heaven. It is poisoning the minds of the children of the nation" (Sutton 52). When William Jennings Bryan was involved with the Scopes trial she sent him a telegram which said, "Ten thousand members of Angelus temple with her millions of radio church membership send grateful appreciation of your lion hearted championship of the Bible against evolution and throw our hats in the ring with you [10]. In order to celebrate the epic struggle that Bryan was facing she organized "an all night prayer service, a massive church meeting preceded by a Bible parade through Los Angeles" [11]. According to Marrow, Mayo declared that no city had followed the "monkey trial" with more emotional fervor than Los Angeles. No people shouted more loudly than the Angelenos for William Jennings Bryan to scotch the Devil.[12] With the help of McPherson, Bryan gained support from numerous people.

During the great threat of Communism, Aimee preached about its negative effects on Christian America, exposing it as the Great Evil that will destroy us. This influenced her listeners to become fearful of what was happening on American soil. Her followers supported immigration policies that prevented more immigration. The American values she portrayed helped to establish greater views of white Christian dominance in the U.S. She also backed the war effort, tying patriotism into the faith of white middle class Protestant Capitalist America.[citation needed]

[edit] Reported abduction

McPherson, c. 1920.

On May 18, 1926, McPherson went to Ocean Park Beach, north of Venice Beach, with her secretary, to go swimming. Soon after arrival, McPherson disappeared. It was generally assumed at the time that she had drowned.

According to the PBS American Experience segment "Sister Aimee", which aired 7 April 2007, McPherson was scheduled to hold a service on the very day she vanished. McPherson's mother appeared and preached at the service in her place, and at the end announced, "Sister is with Jesus," sending parishioners into a tearful frenzy. Mourners crowded Venice Beach, and the commotion sparked days-long media coverage of the event, fueled in part by William Randolph Hearst's Los Angeles Examiner, and even including a poem by Upton Sinclair commemorating the "tragedy". Daily updates appeared in newspapers across the country, and parishioners held day-and-night seaside vigils. A futile search for the body resulted in one parishioner drowning and another diver dying from exposure.

At about the same time, Kenneth G. Ormiston, engineer for KFSG, also disappeared. According to American Experience, some believed McPherson and Ormiston, a married man with whom McPherson had developed a close friendship and had been having an affair, had run off together. About a month after the disappearance, McPherson's mother, Minnie Kennedy, received a ransom note, signed by "The Avengers", which demanded a half million dollars to ensure kidnappers would not sell McPherson into "white slavery". Kennedy later said she tossed the letter away, believing her daughter to be dead.

On June 23, 35 days after her disappearance, McPherson stumbled out of the desert in Agua Prieta, Sonora, a Mexican town just across the border from Douglas, Arizona. She claimed that she had been kidnapped, drugged, tortured, and held for ransom in a shack in Mexico, then had escaped and walked through the desert for about 13 hours to freedom.

Several problems were found with McPherson's story. Her shoes showed no evidence of a 13-hour walk-- indeed, they had grass stains on them after a supposed walk through the desert. The shack could not be found. McPherson showed up fully dressed while having disappeared wearing a bathing suit, and was wearing a wrist watch given to her by her mother, which she had not taken on her swimming trip. A grand jury convened on July 8 to investigate the matter, but adjourned 12 days later citing lack of evidence to proceed. However, several witnesses then came forward stating that they had seen McPherson and Ormiston at various hotels over the 32-day period.

There were five witnesses that claimed to have seen Aimee McPherson at a seaside cottage at Carmel-by-the-Sea, which was rented out by her former employee Kenneth G. Ormiston for himself and his mistress. Mr. Hersey claimed to have seen Mrs. McPherson on May 5 at this cottage, and then later went to see her preach on August 8 at Angelus Temple to confirm she was the woman he had seen at Carmel. His story was confirmed by Mrs. Parkes, a neighbor who lived next door to the Carmel cottage, by Mrs. Bostick who rented the cottage to Mr. Ormiston under his false name "McIntyre", Ralph Swanson a grocery clerk, and Ernest Renkert, a Carmel fuel dealer who delivered wood to their cottage.

The grand jury re-convened on August 3 and received further testimony, corroborated by documents from hotels in McPherson's handwriting. McPherson steadfastly stuck to her story that she was approached by a young couple at the beach who had asked her to come over and pray for their sick child, and that she was then shoved into a car and drugged with chloroform. However, when she was not forthcoming with answers regarding her relationship with Ormiston (who was recently estranged from his wife), Judge Samuel Blake charged McPherson and her mother with obstruction of justice on November 3.

During this time, to combat the bad publicity in the newspapers, she refused to take an oath of secrecy and spoke freely about the court trials on her private radio station. This worried the district attorney who believed McPherson had the ability to shape public opinion and thus the direction of the trial.

Theories and innuendo abounded: she had run off with a lover; she had had an abortion; she was recovering from plastic surgery; she had staged the whole thing as a publicity stunt. No satisfactory answer, though, was ever reached, and soon after the Examiner erroneously reported that Los Angeles district attorney Asa Keyes had dropped all charges, Keyes decided to do exactly that on January 10, 1927 due to changing testimonies, and a lack of Ormiston's testimony thus leading to a lack of evidence.

The tale inspired a satirical song, "The Ballad of Aimee McPherson", popularized by Pete Seeger. The song explains that the kidnapping story was unlikely because a hotel love nest revealed that "the dents in the mattress fit Aimee's caboose."

[edit] Later life and career

McPherson (left) preparing Christmas food baskets, circa 1935

McPherson continued her ministry after the controversy over the alleged abduction diminished, but she fell out of favor with the press. While she and her ministry still received a good deal of publicity, most of it was bad. Additionally, she became involved in power struggles for the church with her mother and daughter. McPherson suffered a nervous breakdown in August 1930.

On September 13, 1931, McPherson married again, this time to an actor and musician, David Hutton. The marriage got off to a rocky start: two days after the wedding, Hutton was sued for alienation of affection by a woman, Hazel St. Pierre, whom he claimed never to have met. He eventually settled the case by paying $5,000 to St. Pierre. While McPherson was away in Europe, she was incensed to discover Hutton was billing himself as "Aimee's man" in his cabaret singing act. The marriage also caused an uproar within the church. The tenets of Foursquare Gospel, established by McPherson, stated that one should not remarry while their previous spouse was still alive (which Harold McPherson was at the time). McPherson and Hutton separated in 1933, and divorced on March 1, 1934.

In 1936 Aimee McPherson proclaimed her rededication to the pentecostal movement. As a result of her childhood days involved with the Salvation Army, she had always believed in the idea that the gospel had a social agenda. This influenced her to open up the temple commissary twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. People from every race and faith could come to Angelus Temple for aid and help. This was instrumental in helping the downtrodden of Los Angeles, which was still in the grips of the Great Depression. McPherson became more active in creating soup kitchens, free clinics and other charitable activities. Later, with the outbreak of World War II, she became involved in war bond rallies and advocated a connection between the church and Americanism. But, in line with her life of scandal, McPherson's good deeds did not come without consequence. In the throes of prohibition (which McPherson strongly supported) comissary workers for her Angelus Temple had been selling donated goods to earn money to run their home liquor production instead of distributing the goods to the needy. McPherson responded immediately by appointing someone new to head charitable work. [13] Though it seemed the damage had been done, it was a rare time that an editorial was printed in McPherson's defense. All this calculated well-doing got McPherson back into the good graces of the press, but she still remained very withdrawn and depressed from her divorce spending much of her time in her Lake Elsinore mansion that was known as "Aimee's Castle".

[edit] Alleged affair with Milton Berle

In Milton Berle's autobiography, Milton Berle: An Autobiography he described a brief affair with McPherson in 1930. Supposedly he met McPherson while at the RKO Hill Street Theater in Los Angeles where he was doing a charity show. After his performance, he states that he waited for her backstage and she invited him to see the Angelus Temple. Berle states that they never made it there.

Instead of going to Angelus Temple, Berle asserts the two of them went to lunch, then to an apartment of hers so that McPherson could change into something "cooler". While Berle was waiting for McPherson in her apartment, she supposedly reappeared from her room wearing "a very thin, pale blue negligee". Berle could see that she was wearing nothing underneath and "'Come in' was all she said." Berle supposedly met with her on one other occasion at her apartment a few days later for sexual relations a second and final time. In Milton Berle: An Autobiography Berle recalled their second and final rendezvous: "This time, she just sent the chauffeur for me to bring me straight to the apartment. We didn't even bother with lunch. When I was dressing to leave, she stuck out her hand. "Good luck with your show, Milton". What the hell. I couldn't resist it. "Good luck with yours, Aimee." I never saw or heard from Aimee Semple McPherson again."[14]

[edit] Death

Aimee Semple McPherson returned to Oakland, California for a series of revivals on September 26, 1944 and was scheduled to preach her popular "Story of My Life" sermon. But when her son went to her hotel room at 10 am the next day, he found her unconscious surrounded by pills and a half-empty bottle with additional capsules. She was dead by 11:15 am. The autopsy did not conclusively determine the cause of death of McPherson. She had been taking sleeping pills to help relax after experiencing several health problems including "tropical fever" in the 1940s. The pills in the hotel room were Seconal, a strong sedative, and were not prescribed for her. No one knew how she obtained them. The coroner said that most likely she died of an accidental overdose, compounded by kidney failure. Seconal has a hypnotizing effect which could make the person forget they had taken the medication and take more, leading to an overdose .[15] There was conjecture of suicide. However, it is generally agreed that the overdose was accidental, as stated in the coroner's report.[16]

McPherson is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. The Foursquare Gospel church, whose leadership was assumed by McPherson's son Rolf for 44 years after her death, continues worldwide with over two million members, over 90% of whom are outside the US.

[edit] Works about McPherson

[edit] Books, periodicals, film

[edit] Theater

A production of the musical Saving Aimee, with a book and lyrics by Kathie Lee Gifford and music by David Pomeranz and David Friedman, debuted at the White Plains Performing Arts Center in October 2005 was staged at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA in April-May 2007.[citation needed]

In 2003, a play entitled Spit Shine Glisten, loosely based on the life of McPherson, was performed at California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, CA. Written and directed by experimental theatre artist Susan Simpson, the play used life-sized wooden puppets, human beings and fractured and warped video projection.[citation needed]

[edit] Aimee's Castle

Aimee's Castle refers to a a Middle-Eastern inspired mansion that was built by "Sister Aimee". [21] The Foursquare Church had built McPherson a home near Angelus Temple in Los Angeles, California, where McPherson preached her sermons and broadcast her radio show, but McPherson built the mansion in Lake Elsinore, California, as a retreat from her life in Los Angeles. McPherson convalesced at this mansion after an injury in 1932.[22]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ "Poor Aimee". Time (magazine). October 22, 1928.,9171,732031,00.html?promoid=googlep. Retrieved on 2007-08-21. "Those of the nobility and gentry and middle classes who reflected upon the matter appeared to feel that the Holy Bible still offers a sufficient choice of Gospels. But of course the London mob, the lower classes, rushed to attend the evangelistic First Night of Aimee Semple McPherson." 
  2. ^ Matthew Avery Sutton, Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007), 9.
  3. ^ Ibid, 9.
  4. ^ Ibid, 9.
  5. ^ Ibid, 9-10.
  6. ^ Ibid, 10.
  7. ^ Ibid, 10.
  8. ^ [3]
  9. ^ Sutton, Matthew. Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America. London: Harvard University Press, 2007.
  10. ^ Sutton 37
  11. ^ Sutton 37
  12. ^ Sutton 120
  13. ^ [Sutton, Matthew. Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America. London: Harvard University Press, 2007]
  14. ^ Milton Berle with Frank Haskel. Milton Berle: An Autobiography. New York: Delacorte Press, 1974 (pages 123-129) |url= |
  15. ^ Note: In the obituary for her daughter-in-law, the cause of Aimee's death is mentioned: "Lorna McPherson, 82, Of the Angelus Temple.". New York Times. June 18, 1993. Retrieved on 2007-08-21. "The Rev. Lorna Dee McPherson, daughter-in-law of the famed evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson and a former minister of her Angelus Temple, died on June 11 at her home in the Los Feliz area. She was 82. The cause of death was emphysema and asthma, said the Rev. William Chavez, a longtime friend and fellow minister. Known as Sister Lorna Dee to followers, Mrs. McPherson was a former vice president of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, which included more than 600 congregations and a Bible college. Mrs. McPherson was elected to the post in 1944 when her husband, Rolf K. McPherson, succeeded his mother as president and chief minister of Angelus Temple following her death. She is survived by her husband and a daughter, Kay. Aimee Semple McPherson founded Angelus Temple in the early 1920's, when her brand of fundamentalist Christianity, stressing the "born-again" experience, divine healing and evangelism, was popular in the United States. She died on Sept. 27, 1944, of shock and respiratory failure attributed to an overdose of sleeping pills. ..." 
  16. ^ "Sister Aimee's' Death Is Ruled An Accident". United Press International in The Washington Post. October 14, 1944. Retrieved on 2008-02-22. "Aimee Semple McPherson, famous evangelist who occupied the headlines almost as often as the pulpit, died of shock and respirator failure "from an accidental over-dosage" of sleeping capsules, a coroner's jury decided today." 
  17. ^ a b c Caleb Crain (2007-06-29). "Notebook: Aimee Semple McPherson". Steamboats Are Ruining Everything. Retrieved on 2008-01-06. 
  18. ^ "Vanity Fair's Cutout Dolls - no. 2". Vanity Fair. Retrieved on 2008-01-06. 
  19. ^ The Voice of Hollywood No. 9 (1930) at the Internet Movie Database
  20. ^ American Experience | Sister Aimee | PBS
  21. ^ "Poor Aimee". Time (magazine). October 22, 1928.,9171,732031,00.html?promoid=googlep. 
  22. ^ "ALL VISITORS BARRED FROM MUTTON CASTLE; Physician Fears Any Shock to California Evangelist Might Prove to Be Fatal.". New York Times. July 18, 1932. 

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