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Tammy Faye show gave a quirky claim to fame

Dave Verrill was still a Union County newcomer when he earned his quirky claim to fame (QCF) credentials.

A clinical exercise physiologist who lives in Stallings, Dave moved to Union County from Maine in 1984. In late 1986 or early 1987, he's not sure, he was a television guest of Tammy Faye Messner – then Tammy Faye Bakker.

At the time, she was married to televangelist Jim Bakker, whose PTL empire was about to come crashing down in scandal. Tammy Faye and Jim hosted “The PTL Club,” a popular evangelical Christian television show. Tammy Faye also hosted her own show, “Tammy Faye's House Party,” which is where Dave's 15 minutes of fame took place.

“She had taken a stress test at the old Nalle Clinic on Kings Drive and I performed the test,” he recalled. “She liked what she learned from the cardiologists and staff, so invited my ‘partner in crime' and I to go on the show.”

They were actually invited to two shows, he said. At the first one, his co-worker talked while Dave, wearing his lab coat, “took some body-fat measures on her volunteer while she made jokes and her band played the David Rose ‘Stripper' theme song as this old guy pulled up his flannel shirt for me to measure his stomach.

“She had an interesting sense of humor,” he added.

“The best show, though, was the one that followed the next week,” he said. “She invited us to come back to actually do a bicycle stress test with an (electrocardiogram) hook-up on a volunteer from the audience and show the audience some simple home exercises.”

Dave's co-worker opted out of the second show because he was sensitive to “getting too much flak as this was the calm before the storm of the mega scandal,” he recalled. Instead, Dave had “two young lady work assistants who demonstrated the exercises and who took the first stress tests.

“What was funny about this show was the fact that Tammy had broken her glasses right before the show and had only one arm of her big lens glasses, which kept them barely on her head,” he said. “Also, there was a fly in the studio that she kept swatting at as she interviewed me… We did the interview and stress tests after sitting through some campy musical numbers…”

About the late Tammy Faye Messner, who died in July 2007, Dave says she “was a very intelligent woman, contrary to popular belief, and she asked some excellent, often difficult-to-answer health questions.”