Naomi Grimley tells the story of how a Canadian farm girl combined glamour and the gospel to become among the most famous women in America in the 1920s and 30s. Aimee Semple McPherson built a huge following for her healing abilities and for her extraordinary "illustrated sermons" - part bible reading, part music hall turn. And long before the arrival of televangelism, she pioneered the use of radio to spread her message across the airwaves. Her allure was such that even Charlie Chaplin was a fan. But with celebrity came loneliness and scandal. In 1926, she disappeared after swimming on Venice Beach, only to mysteriously reappear in Mexico five weeks later. What happened during that period is still hotly contested. Naomi asks what this extraordinary woman's life tells us about two of America's enduring themes: faith and fame.

Producer: Nick White

Special thanks to:

Foursquare Archives

Esotouric - Bus Adventures into the secret heart of Los Angeles

Paul Rood

Catherine Brekus

Randall Balmer


Hauschka - Kreuzung

Lee Rosevere - Dreaming

Podington Bear - Gauze

Martha Tilton - Blow, Gabriel, Blow

Chris Zabriskie - Cylinder Six

Archival material and piano recordings used with the express written consent of The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. Copyright protected.