Legendary Echo Park evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson was a skilled preacher as well as performer, attracting thousands to Angelus Temple, her domed church that rises across from Echo Park Lake, with a combination of passionate spiritualism and Hollywood showmanship. McPherson, a single-mother who traveled across the country before settling in Echo Park, also lead a dramatic life outside of her church, captivating the public with tales of being kidnapped and socializing with movie stars.
So, it may not be too surprising that the story of Sister Aimee, as she was widely known, is now the subject of a Broadway musical, “Scandalous: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson,” which opens this week. Who to thank for this production? Kathie Lee Gifford, the TV show host and songwriter who has been working on her Sister Aimee project for more than seven years, according to Huffington Post. Gifford, according to the Huffington Post, immersed herself in Sister Aimee’s life:
McPherson became something of an obsession for Gifford, who read everything she could on the preacher. She visited her Los Angeles temple 50 times and interviewed McPherson’s children. She even dated McPherson’s third husband’s grandson, completely by accident. “We were not destined for one another,” says Gifford, laughing.
What does the church founded by Sister Aimee, who died in 1944, think about Scandalous? It’s not clear but Gifford said the Foursquare Foundation, an arm of the church, is one of the lead producers of the musical.