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Thread: Marjoe Gortner

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    Korpsy Knievel's Avatar
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    Default Marjoe Gortner


    Hugh Marjoe Ross Gortner (generally known as Marjoe Gortner; born 14 January 1944 in Long Beach, California) is a former revivalist and actor who first gained attention during the late 1940s when, aged four, he became the youngest-known ordained preacher. He then gained notoriety in the 1970s when he starred in Marjoe, an Oscar-winning behind-the-scenes documentary about the lucrative business of Pentecostal preaching. The name "Marjoe" is a portmanteau of the biblical names "Mary" and "Joseph".

    "You start off with a person's thought processes and then gradually sway him around to another way of thinking in a very short time."

    "During that moment the person forgets all about his problems. He is surrounded by people whom he trusts and they're all saying, 'We love you. It's okay. You're accepted in Christ. We're with you, let it go, relax."

    "If you're going to get into big time religion, these are the games you have to play. You go into it as a business and you work it as a business."

    "It's the same at a rock-and-roll concert. You have an opening number with a strong entrance; then you go through a lot of the old standards, building up to your hit song at the end."

    "The people out there don't see it as entertainment, although that is in fact the way it is. Those people don't go to movies, they don't go to bars and drink, they don't go to rock-and-roll concerts - but everyone has to have an emotional release. So they go to revivals and they dance around and talk in tongues. It's socially approved and that is their escape."

    When Gortner was five, his father, Vernon, a third-generation minister, noticed his son's talent for mimicry and his fearlessness of strangers and public settings. His parents claimed he had received a vision from God during a bath, but this was later conceded by Marjoe to be a lie his parents forced him to repeat. He claimed they enforced this by mock-drowning him because they could not beat him which would leave bruises which might be noticed during his many public appearances. They began training him to deliver sermons, complete with dramatic gestures and emphatic lunges. By the time he was four, his parents arranged for him to perform a marriage ceremony for a film crew from Paramount studios and referred to him as "the youngest ordained minister in history". It is not clear, however, who ordained him or if he was even ordained at all.

    Until his teenage years, Gortner and his parents traveled the United States holding revival meetings. As well as teaching him scriptural passages, his parents also taught him several money-making tactics involving the sale of supposedly "holy" articles at revivals which promised to heal the sick and dying. By the time he was sixteen, his family had amassed what he later estimated to be three million dollars. Shortly after Gortner's sixteenth birthday, his father absconded with the money and a disillusioned Marjoe left his mother for San Francisco. He spent the remainder of his teenage years as an itinerant hippie until his early twenties, when, hard-pressed for money, he decided to put his old skills to work and re-emerged on the preaching circuit with a charismatic stage-show modeled after those of contemporary rockers, most notably Mick Jagger. He made enough to take six months off every year, during which he returned to California and lived off the previous six months' earnings.

    In the late 1960s, Gortner suffered a crisis of conscience about his double life and felt his performing talents might be put to better use as an actor or singer. When approached by documentarians Howard Smith and Sarah Kernochan, he agreed to let their film crew follow him on a final tour in 1971 around revival meetings in California, Texas and Michigan. Unbeknownst to everyone else involved – including, at one point, his father – he gave "backstage" interviews to the filmmakers between sermons and revivals, explaining intimate details of how he and other ministers operated. The filmmakers were also invited back to his hotel room to tape him counting the money he had collected during the day. The resulting film, Marjoe, won the 1972 Academy Award for best documentary.

    After leaving the revival circuit, Gortner attempted to break into both Hollywood and the recording industry. Etc. etc. @ wikipedia.

  2. #2
    A dusty and dreadful charade. Scapegrace's Avatar
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    Oh oh oh. I love this guy.
    "[Scapegrace,] I don't know how anyone can stand such a sinister and mean individual as you." - Maritsa Darmandzhyan

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