The Vanishing Evangelist: The Aimee Semple McPherson Kidnapping Affair

The Vanishing Evangelist: The Aimee Semple McPherson Kidnapping Affair

by Lately Thomas

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During the afternoon of May 18, 1926, and auburn-haired woman whose name was virtually an American household word went for a swim in the Pacific. She was not seen to come out of the water. Thousands of Californians who had thronged to hear the dynamic Aimee Semple McPherson preach at her floodlit Angelos Temple were stunned at the news of her disappearance. Two people died in the attempt to find her body. Services were held for her at the Temple and a memorial fund was collected.

Meanwhile, however, letters had begun to come in, demanding $500,000 ransom for the return of Sister Aimee. And five weeks after the vanished, Aimee turned up in a Mexican border town with a circumstantial story of having been kidnapped and then imprisoned in a desert shack, and of having escaped on foot across miles of sandy wastes.

The missing shepherd was welcomed back to life with great rejoicing by the Temple flock. But certain skeptics—among them the Los Angeles district attorney—had doubts about her story. Why was no shack to be found that would fit her description? Why was she neither sunburned nor thirsty when she returned? And who was the mysterious “Miss X,” so remarkably like the evangelist, who had occupied, with a “Mr. McIntyre,” a rented honeymoon cottage at Carmel-by-the-Sea while Aimee was gone?

These questions led to a grand-jury investigation with sensational surprised of its own, and eventually brought the evangelist and certain others into court, where the disclosures made were as startling—and as hilarious—as anything that had preceded…

“The whole story is one of the funniest episodes from the harebrained 1920s….It has been told in great and amusing detail….”—GILBERT HIGHET

“It’s more fun than a barrel of—well, Holy Rollers.”—LESLIE HANSCOM, New York Telegram and Sun

“It is a story far too fantastic for fiction; nobody would believe it if it appeared between the covers of a novel…”—FREDERIC BABCOCK, Chicago Tribune

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781789120509
Publisher: Papamoa Press
Publication date: 03/12/2018
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 351
Sales rank: 706,090
File size: 22 MB
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About the Author

Lately Thomas was the pseudonym of Robert V. Steele (1898-1977), an American writer. Born in Waterbury, Connecticut, his father was a Methodist minister and later a general church officer. Steele briefly served in the U.S. Marine Corps (1918-1919), but did not see overseas action. In 1955, he was employed by the Los Angeles Times and, in this position, began investigating the career of the famous American evangelist preacher Aimee Semple McPherson. The story of her 1926 so-called kidnapping affair was told in Steele’s book The Vanishing Evangelist, first published in 1959, which marked the first time Steele used the pseudonym Lately Thomas. His other publications included Storming Heaven (1970), A Pride of Lions (1971), and When Even Angels Wept: the Senator Joseph McCarthy Affair (1973). Steele died in 1977.

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