Tammy Fessner is best known for being an evangelist and television personality who has a tendency to wear heavy eye makeup. Born Tamara Faye LaValley on March 7, 1942 in International Falls, Minnesota, she died on July 20, 2007, following an 11-year battle with colon cancer. She was 65.
Fessner was the eldest of eight children of preachers Carl and Rachel LaValley. Shortly after she was born, her parents went through a painful divorce. At 18, she took her mom's suggestion and decided to become a minister. Along with her first husband, Jim Bakker, Fessner moved to Virginia and the two started their career in television by hosting the children's show Come on Over on the Christian Broadcasting Network. They also became founding members of the network's flagship news talk show 700 Club.
Her much-publicized battle with cancer made Messner a regular on the CNN talk show Larry King Live, which chronicled her fight with the disease. An emaciated Messner appeared on the talk show for the last time on July 19, 2007, three days before her death. She said she weighed 65 pounds and was unable to eat solid food.
In 2004, Messner was cast in VH1 reality show The Surreal Life
season 2, touted as the best season yet. The show features celebrities who are said to be past their primes and puts them in a Hollywood Hills mansion for two weeks. As if this were not enough, unforgiving cameras also follow their every move. Messner quickly adopted the mother role in a house which she shared with other less than holy personalities, such as Playboy model Traci Bingham
, party girl Trishelle Cannatella
and legendary porn star Ron Jeremy
. Surprisingly, Messner didn't have any problems with Jeremy. She even said he was one of the most gentlemanly people she knew.
(Photo courtesy of VH1)