Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Born on January 14, 1944 in Long Beach, California to evangelist parents, Marjoe Gortner quickly became the youngest ordained minister in the United States at age 4, at which point he could already preach an entire sermon and quote scripture. His given name is a combination of Mary and Joseph.
Through the age of 17, Gortner was able, along with his parents, to pack revival tents throughout the south with people wanting him to fufill the promises of eternal salvation and the healing of illnesses. Shortly after turning 17, Gortner abandoned evangelism with a vengence, eventually turning up in public forums and even on television to debunk his childhood profession. Calling his former fellow evangelists frauds and cheats, he exposed them and their practices, which included paying and planting audience members to pretened that they had been "healed" by the "miracle workers" up on stage.
Marjoe finally got the chance to go "big time" with his message in 1972 when he starred in the documentary Marjoe, which went on to win an Academy Award, and did a great deal to expose the fakes within evangelism. Gortner appeared in several films shortly thereafter, most notably in the 1974 disaster movie "Earthquake" as a psychotic National Guardsman.
During the late 1970s, Marjoe attempted to self-finance another film, this time a pseudo-fictional drama about an evangelist con-man and based in part on his real-life experiences. The film started shooting in New Orleans, Louisiana, but went bankrupt less than 6-weeks into production. Marjoe disappeared late one night with several thousand dollars worth of unused film stock and left the crew stranded in Dallas, Texas where they had been moved for shooting. The film was never completed.
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