American Characters

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Failing in her attempt to find a life away from her Temple, she directed her formidable energies back into the Temple itself—with sometimes explosive results. Family infighting over Temple monetary policies resulted in a broken nose for Sister’s mother and a lawsuit against Aimee by her own daughter-and fifty-five additional lawsuits by disgruntled followers and employees hounded her for the rest of her career. But Aimee was still Aimee, never one to let the Devil get her down. Paris fashions, face lifts, and new religious theatrics kept the Temple jumping and Aimee before the public eye. Her death from an overdose of barbiturates in 1944 came as a severe shock to the thousands of people who had found in Aimee’s life some of the color and joy lacking in their own. Fifty thousand mourners viewed her as she lay in state on the platform of Angélus Temple, reclining in a bronze casket with her hands clasped over an open Bible, and a caravan of six hundred cars followed “the mistress of hallelujah revivalism,” as the London Daily Mail called her, to her final resting place in Forest Lawn Memorial Park. “Today,” her eulogist intoned, “we are here to commemorate the stepping up of a country girl to God’s Hall of Fame.”