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Interview With David Smith; Interview with Tammy Faye Messner

Aired March 6, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST, LARRY KING LIVE: How does a man go on when the mother of his children kills them? Andrea Yates' husband is struggling to answer that painful question. Susan Smith's ex-husband knows the nightmare that Rusty Yates is living through. David Smith joins us, exclusive for a very personal one-on-one.

And then, Tammy Fay survives scandal, divorce, and more tabloid headlines than she can count, and then she got cancer. Her husband Roe Messner was already living with the disease. How have they coped as a couple? It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

It's a great pleasure to welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE, David Smith, the ex-husband of a convicted child killer, Susan Smith. Susan drowned their two sons, Michael and Alex. Michael was three. Alex was 14 months old. This happened October 24, 1994. It's almost, eight years?


KING: Seems like yesterday.

SMITH: Sometimes it does, still does.

KING: Think about them often?

SMITH: Larry, every day, every minute probably.

KING: For those who need a little refresher, before we talk about the Yates case and your thoughts about her husband, where were you that day when the boys - what happened that day, and then your learning of it?

SMITH: Well, I was at work. It was about 9:00 p.m. when I got -

KING: You were separated from Susan?

SMITH: Yes, we were going through a divorce, right. And it was about 9:00 p.m. on the 25th, and I received a phone call from the local sheriff about what had taken place, about the alleged carjacking, the alleged Black man.

KING: Your ex-wife, or your soon to be ex-wife, had said that a Black man carjacked the car, right? SMITH: That's right. Right.

KING: And didn't know where the children were, right?

SMITH: No, for nine days we didn't know where they were, right.

KING: All sorts of things going through your mind?

SMITH: Oh, absolutely.

KING: And you would come on television together.

SMITH: Right.

KING: Kind of bonded in this loss of the children. Did you have any thought during those nine days that Susan might have done it?

SMITH: Not one shred, Larry. I believed Susan 100 percent.

KING: How was it discovered when the found, they found the bodies in a lake, right?

SMITH: Right.

KING: The car in a lake?

SMITH: Right.

KING: When did they put two and two together and come to her?

SMITH: Well, she confessed and that's how they found the car, was she confessed and told them where the car was at.

KING: What led to here confession?

SMITH: A lot of wearing her down, talking to her and, you know, questioning her every day, day in and day out.

KING: The police were suspicious of her?


KING: They didn't let you know that?

SMITH: No. No. I mean I would hear rumors that they, you know, suspected Susan but you know, I believed her, so it didn't matter.

KING: How were you told it was her?

SMITH: The first I saw of it was on television.

KING: You learned it on television?

SMITH: Yes, and then shortly after that, Sheriff Hartwell (ph) came to her parents' home and announced that she had confessed and they had found the car and the bodies were in it and so forth. KING: Did you see her after that?

SMITH: The only time I seen Susan later was about a month after she confessed. I went down to the prison in Columbia and we spent about an hour together.

KING: You did never, and still haven't forgiven, right?

SMITH: Forgiven, yes.

KING: You have forgiven?

SMITH: Yes, I have. I had to.

KING: There was a time when you didn't.

SMITH: Right, but I had to, Larry, because that was only going to eat me up and like subdue my life for the rest of my life. So I had to come to grips with that, forgive Susan for what she'd done.

KING: Now did she plead temporary insanity?

SMITH: No, mentally ill.

KING: And the jury did not accept that concept, right?

SMITH: No, they didn't. They did find her guilty of Murder.

KING: And there was a motive in her case. We don't seem to have one in the Yates case. The motive in her case was that there was some boyfriend that didn't like the kids?

SMITH: Right. He didn't want children. He didn't want a ready- made family, so therefore, I feel that to be with him, to pursue him, Susan had to take the kids out of the problem.

KING: Did you ever think, why didn't she just come to you and say David, I love this guy. I love the kids. But maybe you should raise them?

SMITH: Oh, absolutely, Larry. I've given that a million thoughts, a million times, you know. Why didn't she just give them to anybody? I mean she could have dropped them off.

KING: Your mother?

SMITH: Right.

KING: And she was, up to that time, a loving mother to your knowledge?


KING: I mean -

SMITH: Always. I've stated that since the beginning. She was a very good mother up to that point in time.

KING: How do you then, after this period of time, seven and a half years, explain it to yourself?

SMITH: I don't. I still can't. Larry, I still don't know why she did what, you know, when she did it, how to make sense of it, to this day. I still -

KING: You're newly married. You have another daughter, now?


KING: These were two boys. You have a little girl.

SMITH: Right, I have a 15-month-old.

KING: Are you, based on that, overly fearful of her?

SMITH: Of course I am.

KING: Of something happening to your daughter?

SMITH: Of course I am. I'm very protective of my daughter, Savannah, and I know I am. I know I'm probably too protective but, Larry, I can't help it. I can't help but just go to her every whimper, her every whine. I know I do that.

KING: There she is, beautiful little girl. And you manage a Wal-Mart store in Spartanburg, South Carolina right?


KING: Right, and have a nice job?


KING: Things go well, but live with this all the time?

SMITH: Still live with, still live with depression, yes.

KING: When you heard about Andrea Yates, what were your first thoughts?

SMITH: Probably deep-seated sorrow for those children was the first thought, and then of course, my next feeling was towards Rusty because I'm probably one of the few unfortunately, but that -

KING: Share a bond with him?

SMITH: Right. I know what kind of road he's got ahead of him. I've walked in those shoes.

KING: And one of the differences is, he loves his wife.

SMITH: Yes. KING: He was not separated, and he's standing by her, testified for her.

SMITH: Right.

KING: Do you understand that too or don't you?

SMITH: I do in a way, Larry, because he's going through - in my opinion, he's going through so many emotions that I can't even comprehend to tell you what he's going through because it's so traumatic, and that if he wants to stand by his wife, then that's his choice and so be it. That's the way I feel about him supporting his wife. If that's his choice, then he's entitled to that.

KING: What do you think about her?

SMITH: Well, it's hard for me to actually, I guess, say how I feel because I want to support Rusty Yates for the road he's got to go down, that he's got ahead of him, and I can't, you know, I can't go out there and say, well his wife deserves to die for what she did. But I want to help Mr. Yates if I'm able to, because to me that's conflicting. I can't do that.

KING: Because he doesn't want her to die?

SMITH: Right, because he supports her.

KING: Did you want Susan to die?

SMITH: Yes, I did.

KING: Still do?

SMITH: Deep down inside, yes, but at the same time maybe I've given a lot of thought that ultimately maybe she has got the worst punishment, having to live with what she did every waking day of her life.

KING: In her case, she was found guilty and then they had a separate vote on whether she would get death or life?

SMITH: Right.

KING: Same thing that exists in Texas, right?


KING: Same way, they have to have two votes by the jury.

SMITH: Right, two phased trial, yes.

KING: Right. We're going to take a break and come back. We'll include phone calls for David Smith on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Dr. James Dobson will be here tomorrow night to talk about faith and the evil. We'll discuss this case with him as well. Friday night, the cast of "Everybody Loves Raymond." We'll be right back with David Smith, don't go away.



KING: We're back. We're going to the phone calls for David Smith. Sometimes the husband gets come in for some share of blame. Some people say about Rusty Yates that why didn't he know more? Why didn't he - he knew his wife was disturbed. Why wasn't he helping her out more? In your case, there were some who said that your ex mother- in-law accused you of causing Susan to be this distraught, and that you cheated on your ex-wife. You had problems too, et cetera. How do you react to husband criticism?

SMITH: Well, I think that it doesn't matter, I mean what the case is. We're going to have criticism too. People, you know, they're going to, ones are going to blame everyone else for someone else's act and in the end, Larry, you know, with Susan or Andrea, you know, you know they committed the act themselves. You know, I didn't, you know, kill Michael and Alex. You know, Susan did. She did it on herself.

KING: What would you say to David - to Rusty rather? What would David say to Rusty? You're David.

SMITH: I guess I would say, don't expect too much at first out of yourself. Anything that you feel, any emotion up or down, good or bad, it's normal. Don't try to, just don't try to comprehend and make sense of it right now.

KING: Don't try to explain it to yourself now?

SMITH: Right, because you can't.

KING: And you're never going to, are you?


KING: Let's include some phone calls. Bemidgi, Minnesota.

CALLER: First of all, my condolences to David. I had a question to David. Did you ever in the beginning suspect that your wife could have done this? Did you ever doubt her?

SMITH: No, I didn't. The whole nine days, I believed Susan 100 percent. There was never a shred, never a shadow of a doubt that she had anything to do with the disappearance of Michael and Alex.

KING: And she also, when we see the clips, she was so real in her feelings?


KING: What do you make of that, when you think back on it? I mean, you stood next to her. She - I thought she was going to crack a couple times. SMITH: Well now looking back on it, I just - I think Susan should have got an Academy Award for what she did.

KING: Do you think she thought she'd get away with it?

SMITH: Yes, I do.

KING: By saying Black man in the South?

SMITH: Right.

KING: Led people to think?

SMITH: I do. I really believe deep down inside, Larry, that she thought she was going to get away with it.

KING: You've also had to deal with her prison life since too, right?

SMITH: Right.

KING: She had affairs with some guards. They've moved her to another prison.

SMITH: Right.

KING: You once said on this program, you want to see the day when you can go visit her. Is that day at hand?

SMITH: No. No. I feel like sometimes I want to go to her and tell her how I feel, Larry, but at the same time, I think it may cause more harm because it will give Susan the satisfaction that I still think about her sometimes, and I don't want to give her that.

KING: Philadelphia, hello. Philadelphia, hello.

CALLER: Yes. I would like to know how he would feel about conjugal visits? I understand that they're allowing her husband to see her again, and I just wondered how he would feel if she were to become pregnant and if that should be allowed, or should they be, if someone has a death row or possible life, should they be sterilized?

SMITH: Wow, that's a good question. I think visits are fine, but as far as being able to have more children, that one should be definitely thought through and reconsidered, because you know, after you take the life of your children in the act the way that Susan and Andrea both have, I think it definitely needs to be reconsidered about allowing to have more children. I'm not saying no, but it should definitely be reconsidered.

KING: The act is, of course, so bizarre.

SMITH: Right.

KING: But do you think though that Andrea is - this is a layman's thought, more insane than your wife was? SMITH: I think, yes I think she definitely has a more mental illness, a greater mental illness than Susan did, yes.

KING: Because just imagine the way she did it.

SMITH: Right.

KING: One by one and chasing one of the children right?

SMITH: Right.

KING: Do you think about your kids a lot?

SMITH: All the time, Larry. I still miss Michael and Alex deeply. It's still tough. It's really hard. Some days, as always, some days are harder than others, holidays, birthdays, anniversary date.

KING: We thank you for coming because I know that this was difficult for you and you don't like doing this, but we appreciate your -

SMITH: Well, thank you.

KING: -- being forthcoming for us. Would you like to go and spend some time with Mr. Yates?

SMITH: Sure. I would like that a lot.

KING: Because you could probably help him a lot.


KING: You know, not many people are in your circumstances.

SMITH: Right. If he's willing, I'm willing, absolutely.

KING: Isn't it, to this day, hard to accept? In all these years, you still can't rationalize this right?

SMITH: It still makes no more sense today, Larry, than it did October 25th.

KING: Were you a person of - did you believe in God? Do you believe in God?

SMITH: Yes I do, very much.

KING: You were a Jehovah's Witness, right?


KING: Are you still a Jehovah's Witness?

SMITH: No. No. But I do believe in God and his sovereignty, his power, absolutely. KING: Do you believe the children are somewhere?

SMITH: Yes. Yes. I wasn't brought up to believe that, but I do now and I think most of it probably because it gives me a sense of peace, knowing that they're, you know, at a better place.

KING: What a horrible way to die, right?


KING: They were alive in the car going into the water?

SMITH: Right, but on that thought, Larry, I do have to believe that God didn't allow them to -

KING: Suffer.

SMITH: Right. You know, I know they had to go through the act of drowning, but I think that God - I hope that anyways that he just put them to sleep.

KING: The three-year-old had to realize though his mother was doing something?

SMITH: I would think so, yes.

KING: Yes. We'll be back with more moments with David Smith and more of your phone calls, and then we'll talk with Tammy Faye Messner and her husband Roe Messner about a lot of things, including battling cancer. This is LARRY KING LIVE, don't go away.




KING: You were watching that?


KING: And that's when you learned?


KING: San Francisco, for David Smith, hello.

CALLER: Good evening, Mr. Smith, and good evening, Larry.


CALLER: Mr. Smith, first of all, I'd just like to say I am so sorry. I am so terribly sorry. God bless you.

SMITH: Thank you. CALLER: My question is, did your former wife give any sign, any hint, any threat of what she was going to do? Not that you would know, but I'm just interested in any clue, and before you go, I just wanted to say again, God bless you, God keep you, and please carry on. God love you.

SMITH: Thank you.

KING: Thank you. In retrospect, you have to think back over all the things she ever said or did or talked about with the children. Ever have an inkling?

SMITH: No. Susan never, ever mentioned any bad thoughts about harming Michael and Alex, kind of like what I've read about, like Andrea Yates has done. Susan never had any of that. No, I never had a sign

KING: I guess Mr. Yates must be going through - you go through all kinds of things when a tragedy happens. Do you ever have any guilt?

SMITH: I did at first, Larry, because you want, again you're trying to find an answer for what happened, why it happened, and even if I was to take the blame myself, I was trying to do that, and in the end Susan still committed the act by herself.

KING: Yes, you can't get around that.

SMITH: no.

KING: San Angelo, Texas, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry.


CALLER: My question for David is that, it was reported to us, you know, that Susan did it for the approval or the whatever for another man.

SMITH: Right.

CALLER: Did anything ever become of a relationship between her and this other man?

SMITH: No. Actually the gentleman, he didn't ever see Susan but one day during the nine days, and as far as I know, that was the last time he ever had contact with her. You know, I believe that Susan felt that he was going to come to her side, you know. Your children are missing, you know, I'll take care of you. You know, I'll help you get through this. Your children are gone. But, I think that fell through. That was part of Susan's plan.

KING: And I'll bet he don't have any guilt. He should but he doesn't I guess, huh?

SMITH: Right.

KING: Well no, he shouldn't have guilt.

SMITH: No, he shouldn't.

KING: He may have just said, I don't like children. He certainly didn't say kill.

SMITH: That's right.

KING: Phoenix, Arizona, hello.

CALLER: Hi. Congratulations, David, on your new marriage, but I have a question for you. Do you picture telling your daughter about your two sons, and won't this be a difficult thing for you to do?

SMITH: Wow. I think about it all the time, that you know, one day she's going to want to know who those two little boys are that are hanging up in my house, and I think about the day when I'm going to have to explain to her who they are and their relationship to her, and maybe even when the day comes, to have to explain to her what happened to them. So yes, I do think about it.

KING: I guess you're going to have to, right?

SMITH: I'm going to have to, right.

KING: The story ain't going to go away.


KING: Susan's eligible for parole, not for a long time, right?

SMITH: I think it's like 2023. I think that's right.

KING: She'll be a pretty old lady then.

SMITH: Early '50s.

KING: That's all?

SMITH: That's it. When she's eligible, she'll be in her early '50s.

KING: Can you envision her getting out?

SMITH: Yes. I don't like it, but I do think that it's a possibility. I mean she will be eligible for parole, so she could actually get paroled.

KING: I think Mr. Yates ought to sit down and talk to you. It can't hurt him.

SMITH: Right.

KING: And he must be going through - I spoke to him on the phone last week.

SMITH: Really.

KING: He's very supportive of his wife, but what a dilemma to go through.

SMITH: Well, like I said, Larry, if he wants to support his wife, then that's his choice. I would never condone him for doing that. But at the same time, if he just wants to, Larry, just talk to somebody that walked in his, that's walked in the shoes that he's in now, I'm more than willing.

KING: The death of a child is impossible to fathom.

SMITH: Right.

KING: The loss of children just don't work, nature wise.

SMITH: Right, because you're not supposed to outlive your children.

KING: To be victimized by a parent.

SMITH: Right.

KING: Thank you, David. Thanks very much for coming. David Smith of Spartanburg, South Carolina, the ex-husband of convicted child killer Susan Smith, who drowned their two sons, Michael and Alex, October 24, 1994.

When we come back, Tammy Faye and Roe Messner will join us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't forget, the entire cast of "Everybody Loves Raymond" will be here on Friday night. That's going to be a lot of fun. Don't go away.


KING: Joining us now from Charlotte, North Carolina is Tammy Faye Messner, cancer surviver. She has her new one woman show, "Tammy Faye, Doing it My Way."


KING: And your husband - how are you Tammy - is Roe Messner. He is Tammy Faye's husband is living with prostate cancer. Before we talk about cancer and some other things, what are your thoughts on this whole Andrea Yates story, Tammy Faye?

MESSER: Well, I understand the depression that she is going through. I had that for a year after my first child was born, and so I do understand that. But I feel there is no excuse for killing your children. If you can't deal with it, you need to get some help. And so, I just -- all I can think of is the children, And the sorrow that I feel is -- you can't even put it into words, as a mother.

KING: Some of it had religious overtones. She discussed being involved with Jesus, kids and said part of her mental illness involved somehow the devil and the like. God often comes into play in these things. Any thoughts in that area?

T. MESSNER: I don't understand why that happens, but I think it's, believe it or not, the devil that brings God into play in those things.

KING: And, Roe, as a husband, can you understand what the fathers are going through, both David, who was with us and Rusty now?

ROE MESSNER: It would be very difficult, Larry. You know, you love your kids so much. And you just can't figure out why your wife would do this. It would just be terrible.

KING: How are the Messners doing?

T. MESSNER: We're doing wonderful. Thank you, Larry.

KING: Well, let's get some updates here. Roe, we know you have prostate cancer but have chosen to treat it with watchful waiting, right, no radiation, no surgery?

R. MESSNER: That's right, Larry. Actually, it was a very easy decision for me to make after I got all the facts. I found out I had prostate cancer in 1994 and Tammy and I had only been married about a year. And there were several factors involved in making my decision, but the first one was the location of the cancer in my prostate is around the nerves. And to remove the prostate would completely end your sex life and I wasn't very interested in that.

And then another thing, the doctor told me that prostate cancer is very slow growing and that I would probably die from something else before I'd ever die from prostate cancer. So, you know, I like to hear that. And then the third thing that helped me make my decision was the cost. We had just gotten married. We didn't have any money.

KING: And no insurance?

R. MESSNER: No insurance. The operation was going to cost about $20,000. So I decided to do watchful waiting and it's been eight years now, and I feel real good about it.

KING: Your PSA is down?

R. MESSNER: Pardon.

KING: Your PSA test down?

R. MESSNER: No. My PSA test right now is 12.2.

KING: That's high.

R. MESSNER: That's very high. But I've chosen not to do anything about it, and I feel good about it.

KING: Tammy Faye, how do you feel about that decision? T. MESSNER: Well, Larry, I feel scared. I've talked to Roe many times about it and I told him that I love him no matter what. I love him. And so, it makes me very nervous for Roe not to do anything about it. And I've urged him many times, too. But I feel it's his own body, and he has the right, if he feels like he wants to trust God, he has the right. It is his own body and I have to respect his decisions.

KING: And so even -- you would not think of leaving if he were unable to perform sexually?

T. MESSNER: Oh, no. No, absolutely not.

KING: So you would have liked to have seen him do the surgery -- get more immediate help?

T. MESSNER: I certainly would have, yes.

KING: Now you had colon cancer, right?

T. MESSNER: Yes, I did.

KING: How did you defeat that?

T. MESSNER: Well, I went and had it operated on. I found out about it March -- in -- was it in March, I found out about it. And March 6, I had a surgery, six years ago. And I felt that I needed to go ahead and have it taken care of. I did not have chemotherapy and I did not have, what is it, radiation treatments?

KING: Yes.

T. MESSNER: I just went ahead. I said if I do my part, then I can trust God to do his part. And I'm six years free of cancer today.

KING: That's right. Today is the anniversary.

T. MESSNER: Today is the anniversary.

KING: Is it true that you had bleeding for a year and hid it and didn't go get any examination?

T. MESSNER: I did, Larry. And I wanted to believe that it was hemorrhoids. My gynecologist told me she thought it was just internal hemorrhoids. And, of course, I wanted to believe that. I was embarrassed to go to a male doctor. But when the bleeding got so bad, I finally, in desperation, found a female and went to her. And by that time, it was too late, and I already had a large tumor.

KING: And they found it through colonoscopy?

T. MESSNER: Yes, they -- well, they found it through just barely checking. They didn't have -- they could feel it.

KING: All right. How then have you -- are you cancer free?

T. MESSNER: Yes, sir.

KING: Has it affected you at all, the surgery? Has it affected any of the dietary habits? I mean, when they operate on the colon, that's not some small organ.

T. MESSNER: No, that isn't some small organ. And the doctor told me, well one day, your head will catch up with the rest of you. But food goes through you much faster since this surgery. They took out 14 inches of my colon. And I -- yes, it's a different feeling. You don't want to have that surgery unless it's absolutely necessary.

KING: So we could ask each of you the same question. Roe, what is it like to live with a cancer patient?

R. MESSNER: Well, it's great, Larry. You know, we're both survivors. And we both believe that no challenge is too great for God.

T. MESSNER: That's right.

R. MESSNER: And so, we're just doing great.

KING: And it doesn't, Tammy Faye, the fact that your husband has prostate cancer cause you to question your faith or belief?

T. MESSNER: Oh, no, not at all. My brother dying has caused me to fear losing my husband more. My brother died last week.


T. MESSNER: Of a sudden heart attack. He was 57 years old and was walking the dog with his wife and they were just walking down a path and she thought he tripped. They were laughing and talking. And she looked down and he was already dead.

And when I got a telephone call, it was my sister, which I thought nothing of it. We talk on the phone frequently. And she said, I've got some bad news about Donny. And I said, what is it? And she said, Tam, he's dead. And so that was the -- I just went to my knees. It was probably one of the biggest shocks of my life. And, of course, after you've just been to a funeral, you don't want to go to another one real soon.

KING: Whose funeral had you been to?

T. MESSNER: Pardon me?

KING: You had been to another funeral prior to your brother's?

T. MESSNER: No, my brother's funeral I went to last week. I flew up to International Falls, Minnesota. His name is Don.

KING: Roe, did you know him well?

R. MESSNER: No, I didn't know him very well, Larry. I had met him a couple times. But I can't really say that I knew him. KING: Don't you ever think, Tammy Faye, that your life, while it has had a lot of ups, has been a series of heartbreaks?

T. MESSNER: Well, you know, just about the time, Larry, you think you've gone through everything there is to go through, you find out there can still be more.

But my faith is so deep in God. And I have come to the realization that there are some questions in life that there are no answers to. And so you can't waste your time and your energy trying to answer -- trying to get an answer for questions there are no answers to. You must go forward in life and take one day at a time and trust God, and you know everything is going to be all right.

KING: We'll take a break and come back. We'll include phone calls for the Messners as well. Tomorrow night, Dr. James Dobson will be with us, the famed radio host. And we'll discuss about faith and evil and belief when faced with tragedy or illness. That's tomorrow night. Ray Romano and the cast of "Everybody Loves Raymond" will be with us on Friday.

You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back with the Messners. Don't go away.


T. MESSNER: See all this stuff? Look at all this stuff. That's my blush. It's almost gone. I have to go to the swap meet and get some more. I buy it at the swap meet.

My powder, that kind -- when I cry, it takes away the tears. This is my eyebrow stuff, although I don't really need to put on eyebrow stuff because my eyebrows are permanent. This turns pink when you put it on. See, but it's white to start with.

Eyelash glue. Well, here is -- I don't know what that is. And here is my mascara that I'm so famous for. As you see, it is L'oreal waterproof lash out makeup. And as you can see, it is much used, much loved.




KATIE COURIC, "TODAY SHOW": Having experienced what I experienced with this disease, I felt it would be almost criminal not to try to inform the public about this. It's the second leading cancer killer. You know, 56,000 people die of this cancer.

KING: Men and women.

COURIC: Men and women. And it's so preventable, if people are screened it has a better than 90 percent cure rate. So I felt like I had all this information, I became really an expert in colon cancer, both in the diagnostic area and prevention area and treatment area, that I wanted to share it with people. I did a public service announcement. And I said, you know, don't end up saying, if only.


KING: That was Katie Couric appearing on this show, discussing colon cancer, the death of her late husband. Tammy Faye, that was a tough and brave thing to do, wasn't it?

T. MESSNER: That was very brave. I would tell people, don't die of embarrassment. They say you can't die of embarrassment, but you really can if you don't go and get a checkup because you're embarrassed. If you have to, just put a bag over your head, a couple of holes for the eyes.


KING: By the way, Roe, the same is true of prostate cancer, isn't it? Men were afraid to say it?

R. MESSNER: Well, I'm not embarrassed about it, Larry. I just don't feel like it's right for me. Every man has to make his own decision. And, you know, what's right for me may not be right for you.

KING: Let's take a call. Abbots Ford, British Columbia. Hello.

CALLER: Hello. Hi, Tammy Faye.


CALLER: Hi, Roe. I'm just wondering how your children are dealing with this cancer right now?

T. MESSNER: Well, of course, children are always afraid when they hear the word cancer. But my children also have a great faith in God. We've raised them to have faith in God. And they deal with the same way we do, just with total faith in God.

KING: Roe, do you have children, as well?

R. MESSNER: Yes, I have four children and 11 grand kids.

KING: And are they very supportive of this battle that you have going on?

R. MESSNER: Yes, they are, Larry. They -- you know, they're leaving it up to me, though, to make up my own mind on what I want to do. But they're very supportive.

KING: Tammy, what are you doing now, what is this one woman show?


T. MESSNER: What do you think, Larry? KING: What are you doing? You're always doing something.

T. MESSNER: I know, I'm always doing something. My one woman show is something I was talked in to by a friend named Joe Spotts. Joe Spotts, you.


And I had not been a person -- well, I did live television all the time. And we had like 1,000 people in our studio every day. And so I figured it couldn't be much different than that. And it really isn't. I love being with the audiences. The show is a variety type show. A lot of interaction with the audience. I sing, I don't dance because I've never learned how. But and I was taught that it was a sin when I was little. Now that I don't think it is, I'm sort of like a broom. I don't move well.

And so I tell stories, I talk about my childhood, do lots of fun things. It has turned out to be one of the most fun things I've ever done in my life.

KING: And what kind of places do you work?

T. MESSNER: Well, I just got back from the --

R. MESSNER: Jackie Gleason Theater.

T. MESSNER: Jackie Gleason Theater, which was lots of fun. You could just hear old Jackie Gleason in that theater.

KING: Yes, you can.

T. MESSNER: It was really wonderful. Then we did the --

R. MESSNER: The Castro Theater.

T. MESSNER: The Castro Theater in San Francisco.

KING: So -- I gather Roe goes with you?

T. MESSNER: Yes, he's does. And I got to play that big organ in the Castro Theater. And when you put your hands down there, the whole theater just shakes. It was a wonderful experience and it was a wonderful experience to actually -- not to have to talk to people via television, but to actually touch them and see the people that you're with.

KING: New York City for the Messners. Hello.

CALLER: Hello?

KING: Hi. Yes, go ahead.

CALLER: Yes, I wanted to know does Tammy still keep in touch with Jimmy Bakker and whatever happened to him?

KING: Tammy?

T. MESSNER: I didn't hear the question.

KING: Do you still keep in touch with Jim and what's he doing?

T. MESSNER: Oh, yes! Jim runs a ministry in Florida. And he's doing fine. He's helping the underprivileged and he has a wonderful work going there. Yes, we keep in touch. We've been to many of our children's functions together, and we're still friends and we all get along fine.

KING: And we did a show one night with both of the new families.

T. MESSNER: Yes, you did.

KING: Which we'll always remember. Jim and his new wife and you and Roe. That was a terrific night. The kids came on.

T. MESSNER: That was the first time we'd been on television together since, you know, since everything happened, Larry.

KING: And Tammy, did Jim know your late brother well?

T. MESSNER: Yes, Jim did know my late brother. I asked my daughter to call him and tell him that Donny had died, because he thought he would probably want to know.

KING: With all you faced, for both of you, what are your thoughts, Tammy about death? What do you think happens when you die?

T. MESSNER: I think you go right to be with the Lord. The Bible says to be absent from the body, Larry, as to be present with the Lord. And unlike the Catholic religion, which I respect very much, I really feel that you go directly to be with the Lord. And I think that's why when I think about those children that died, I believe Jesus just took them directly into heaven and they were immediately with him.

KING: Is your faith as strong, Roe?

R. MESSNER: Yes, it is, Larry. And I believe the same thing. I believe that being absent from the body, we're in God's presence.

T. MESSNER: That's what God -- that's what the Bible says.

KING: And that belief is that when your brother died, it didn't get shaken?

T. MESSNER: No, not at all. I knew Donny -- see, I feel this way, Larry, this earth is just a temporary dwelling place. And this world is not my home. And the more people that I lose, I realize that I've got something exciting waiting for me. And the Bible says that we have a hope that is different. We that love God have a hope that is different from those that don't love God. And we know where our loved ones are, and we can look forward to seeing them again. And that brings great peace to my soul. KING: Back with more moments with the Messners on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.



T. MESSNER: That is where Jim and I have been. The sorrow and the grief and the hurt. We had absolutely nothing left. Reputation destroyed. Everything gone. But God. Oh, my.

JIM BAKKER: Tammy bought me a little pin. It's supposed to clip on a shirt or something, but I have it on my lamp. It says, don't worry, be happy. The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.

T. MESSNER: I shall not want. You know, Jim, I never realized what that song was before, the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. But he has -- we have lived that.


KING: The Bakkers, what a story that was, huh? Toledo, Ohio, hello.

CALLER: Good evening, Larry. I'm one of four brothers who are prostate cancer survivors. I had a question for Tammy Faye's brother -- or husband.

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: I was just wondering if he had considered radiation or the seed implants as an option.

KING: Which mayor Giuliani used.

R. MESSNER: Larry, I spent six months doing all the research on seed implants, direct radiation, cryo surgery and then, you know, radical surgery. I've got a stack of stuff about two inches thick on all the research I've done. And I still stick with my decision not to do anything.

KING: Oklahoma City. Hello.

CALLER: Good evening, all.


T. MESSNER: Hello.

CALLER: Wanted to ask Tammy Faye what she thinks of the state of Christian television in general these days, such as TBN.

T. MESSNER: Well, I don't watch Christian television, shame on me.

KING: You don't? T. MESSNER: Well, it just brings back so many hurts and so many memories that it is very hard for me to do. But I tell you, I believe they're doing a good job and I say go, go for it.

KING: What do you make of Reverend Falwell blaming September 11 on moral -- immorality in America.

T. MESSNER: Well, Larry, you know what I think about that. I think Reverend Falwell needs to get saved. No, I really feel that that was wrong for him to do. At the time when our nation needed encouragement more than any other time, and for him to get on and say something like that, I just thought that was unspeakable. And I'm so sorry.

KING: Where were you on the 11th of September?

T. MESSNER: I was standing in front of my television screen talking to my daughter on the phone screaming and crying and praying for those people.

KING: And where was Roe?

T. MESSNER: Where were you, Roe?

R. MESSNER: I was standing in the bedroom watching TV. And saw it right there on TV in the bedroom.

KING: Yes, boy. Woodbridge, Virginia. Hello.

CALLER: Yes, hello, Larry. This is for Tammy. I was wondering if she's planning on doing any recording in the near future.

T. MESSNER: Well, only God knows. My life seems to be taking a whirling start again. And anything could happen. I certainly would like to. Because I'm enjoying singing again.

KING: Would you do another TV show?

T. MESSNER: Yes, I would, Larry.

KING: Well, have you contacted anyone?

T. MESSNER: No. I haven't. The Comedy Channel has contacted me and I have signed a deal with the cartoon company that wants to...

KING: To do what?

T. MESSNER: Pardon me.

KING: What are you going to do with the cartoon company?

T. MESSNER: It's called we're blessed and it's about me and the neighborhood I live in. And we're supposed to start doing the voice- overs for the cartoons within the next couple of months. That should be fun. I've always said people always thought I was a cartoon, now I am. KING: And the character that is drawn will be of you?

T. MESSNER: Will be me. And I already have the drawings. And I didn't like the first drawings because they had a great big pouf of hair on top. I didn't like that they had me in a proper prim little dress (UNINTELLIGIBLE) put lots of jewelry on me, take the poof off my head and put me in a pantssuit. Now I'm happy with it.

KING: Do you miss the high life?

T. MESSNER: No, I live in a -- I live in a home on a little cul- de-sac in Charlotte, North Carolina and I've never been happier in my life, Larry. I can truly say I do not miss it. I'm very grateful for the peace that I have found just being a grandmother and a housewife, although now it looks like God has called me back again to ministry, which I am doing.

KING: Did it bother you at all, Roe, to marry someone so well known?


KING: With such a conflicted life?

R. MESSNER: No, it really didn't, Larry.

T. MESSNER: I thought he was tough.

R. MESSNER: I've always been comfortable with myself and I know who I am. And so it really doesn't bother me, the fact that she's so famous and I'm comfortable with it.

KING: Does it surprise you, Tammy, that people still are very, very interested in you and follow your exploits?

T. MESSNER: Larry, I can never believe it. In fact, when you called again, wanted me back on your show, I thought what in the world are we going to talk about? It always surprises me. I'm the most surprised of anyone.

But I'm very thankful and grateful at any time for the opportunity to talk to the people about the experiences in life I've gone through and hopefully help some of them make it. After all I've gone through and tomorrow's my birthday and I'm going to be 39 again and look it here. I've made it. Thank you, God.

KING: I didn't hear you, how old are you going to be?

T. MESSNER: 39, again.

KING: It's regressing.

T. MESSNER: Always, Larry.

KING: Where are you going for the birthday, Roe? R. MESSNER: We're just going to stay here. As a matter of fact, we celebrated last night. We went to the bowling alley and bowled for about three hours. That's what Tammy wanted to do.

T. MESSNER: With the grandkids.

KING: There's a switch in life. Thank you both very much.

T. MESSNER: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Tammy Faye Messner and Roe Messner, both cancer survivor, the battle goes on. We thank them both very much for being with us. Don't forget Friday night we're going to have quite a session here with the cast of "Everybody Loves Raymond." They're up for three big awards at the Screen Actors Guild Awards which (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the table for Sunday night.

We'll tell you about tomorrow night when we come back. Don't go away.


KING: Tomorrow night, Doctor James Dobson will be with us to discuss faith and evil. Interesting topic. I got to see an ad advance preview today of a terrific new movie called "The Rookie." Great film by the way, when it opens, with Dennis Quaid. And in it is featured the voice of Aaron Brown in a very pivotal scene.

And he is going to host NEWSNIGHT next on CNN. I saw in Aaron. You are very good.





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