She now goes by Tammy Faye Messner, but it was as Tammy Faye Bakker that she first entered the spotlight.
She and her first husband, Jim Bakker, created a televangelism empire that they lost amid accusations of fraud and adultery.
But that's all in the past, and Messner has a new life that she writes about in her new book, "I Will Survive & You Can Too!"
Messner visited The Saturday Early Show to discuss her book, which she calls a survival journal that offers tips on getting through the rough times.
Here's what she told us in a telephone interview before she appeared on the show:
Why did you decide to write this book now?
The publishers approached me and asked if I could write the book and they didn't give me any kind of parameters, which is something that I'd never heard of before.
How would you describe your book? It has personal anecdotes, advice on coping with divorce and a few of you favorite recipes.
I'd call it a survival journal. It offers tips on how to survive the rough times we all encounter and I also added some fun stories for people to read.
In your book you offer advice on how to deal with divorce, something you dealt with very publicly. Were you able to follow this advice during your own ordeal or is it knowledge you obtained in the wake of your split?
During my divorce, I found out a lot of things I didn't know that I wish I had known about. But I learned a lot of important lessons that I think can help other people who are going through divorce, including the children.
What's your relationship like now with your former husband Jim Bakker?
It's fine. Jim and I get along well. We share our children and grandchildren.
You are now married to Roe Messner. What's marriage like the second time around?
It's like what I always dreamed a marriage should be. My first marriage was filled with a lot of frustration because Jim was so busy working that we didn't always get to have quality time together. My new marriage is filled with such kindness and I just feel so lucky to have found Roe.
Why do you think that all these years later people are still fascinated by you?
I have no doubt that it's the eyelashes and make-up that keep people interested in me. But I also think people are looking for honesty and they know that I'm going to tell it to them straight, the good and the bad. People can tell when you are lying and they know that I'm down to earth.
There was a documentary done about you a few years ago titled, "The Eyes of Tammy Faye." Do you feel it accurately portrayed you?
It was a very honest movie which at first I didn't want to watch, but then my husband Roe convinced me to see it and within ten minutes of watching I knew that they got me right.
Your movie was featured at the Sundance film festival, an event you attended. What was that like?
It was the closest thing I've ever had to a love-fest. You know there were big crowds waiting outside to see it and I think a lot of the people came there to laugh but they left crying.
You've had your share of tough times. You lost your television ministry, your first marriage dissolved, both your husbands spent time in prison, you got cancer. Yet you're still here. What's been the key to your survival?
Having God in my life is what has allowed me to survive. I practice what I preach and I know that God is always looking out for me.
Besides writing the book, what else have you been up to?
I'm getting ready to do TV again and I'm going to stick with Christian TV this time and hope to get the show syndicated.
Tammy Faye shared a few tips from her book:
Refuse to be a victim of your circumstances
It's your choice if you choose to be a victim. Don't sit there and have a pity party for yourself!
Other people can stop you temporarily; only you can stop you permanently
In life you just have to go on - you are the only thing that can get in the way of yourself.
Always get dolled up
When a woman dresses up, it says that she cares about herself and I think that a woman should look like a woman.
Every woman should own a wig
If you own a wig, there is no excuse for having a bad hair day. And if it rains you can just pull it off and shake it out.
Read an excerpt from " I Will Survive & You Can Too!":
Run Toward The Roar
I learned very early in life what fear was. Little kids aren't supposed to be afraid. They are supposed to be able to live unencumbered by the things that adults face. They should be free to play and laugh and run. They should feel protected from anything that could hurt them. They should not have to feel afraid.
My mother and real dad were divorced when I was just three years old. At that time there was me and my little brother Donnie. I don't remember anything about it; all I remember is that all of a sudden Daddy was gone and I never saw him again. I don't remember any feelings that I must have had-fear being one of them, I am sure. My mom married another wonderful man shortly after the divorce was complete. His name was Fred Grover, and he was to become the only daddy I ever knew. I loved him with all my heart. He was so kind and good to my brother and me.
Little children are supposed to be able to hug and kiss their daddies; they're supposed to be able to climb up on his lap so he can tell them stories. They're supposed to be able to hug his neck and say, "I love you, Daddy."
I never did any of those things as a little girl. I don't know why. I can't remember anyone telling me I couldn't. It was something inside me that said to me, this is not your real daddy and you must always be a lady around him. Where did that come from? I've often wondered. I longed to crawl up on his lap. I longed to hug him. I longed to kiss his face, to say, "Daddy, I love you." I think I missed so much as a child not being able to do those things that "real kids" do.
After Mom and Dad married, it wasn't long before babies started to come. One every two years. I was a little girl who grew up fast-I had to. Mom needed help, and I loved babies. Before I knew it Larry came along, then Judy came along, then Danny came along, then Johnnie came along, and after him came Debbie and Ruth. There was never a dull moment in our household.
I remember helping Mom wash clothes. She would move that big old ringer washing machine into the kitchen from the porch, heat water on the stove to fill the machine, then put a big tub under the wringer filled with cold water for rinsing, and washing clothes for ten people would begin. It was a hard job on washday. I can remember the sound of the clothes going slosh, slosh, slosh in the machine, and all the soap bubbles and the steam. Then Mom would use a long stick, or what looked like a stick, and pull the clothes out one piece at a time and run them through the ringer into the big tub of cold water.
She'd stir them around till the bubbles were gone, run them back through the ringer and put them into the big clothes basket on the floor. When the basket was full we would each grab an end and carry it out to the clothesline. I'd hand her the clothes and pins, and she would put them on the line to blow in the summer breeze until dry. We'd bring them in dry, and every day when I came home from school, as well as on Saturdays, I would iron. By the time I had finished all the ironing the process would start all over again. I didn't mind ironing. I loved getting the wrinkles out of things and making them nice and flat and smooth.
We had a busy, busy household. There was always something to do as the little kids played outdoors-rain or snow or sunshine, it didn't matter, the show must go on! There was cooking and cleaning and doing dishes, stacks and stacks of dirty dishes and dirty, greasy pots and pans. There was certainly no time to be a kid for me.
Then Mom and Dad started to fight all the time. They yelled and yelled at each other, and I knew what it was to be afraid. My dad never hit my mom, it was just the constant yelling. I would run into the bedroom and hide under the bed and cover my ears with my hands and hum a little tune so I could not hear what they were saying. I was so scared that Dad would leave Mom and that we'd be alone with no one to take care of us. I was so afraid that someone would come and separate all us kids, and we would never see each other again. I don't know where I heard that things like that could happen, but in my heart I knew it could. I'd beg Mom not to yell at Dad. She would start to cry. "It's okay Mom, it's going to be all right," my little voice would say. I'd hug her and try to make her feel happy again.
I cannot imagine how hard it was for my mom with eight of us kids and me being her only help. She was a fantastic cook, she made cream puffs that were so light I'd dream of them flying away. My mom took such good care of us kids. She was so creative and fun.
The foregoing is an excerpt from "I Will Survive & You Can Too!," by Tammy Faye Messner. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from Penguin Group.
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