Updated:
Original:
Year
1926
Month Day
May 18

Popular evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson disappears

Aimee Semple McPherson, a nationally known evangelist, disappears from Venice Beach in Los Angeles, California. Police dispatched planes and ships in an effort to find her, but she was nowhere to be found. Authorities later discovered that radio announcer Kenneth Ormiston, a friend of McPherson, had also vanished.

McPherson was the Billy Graham of her time. In 1923, she opened Angelus Temple in Los Angeles, where she consistently amassed overflowing crowds. McPherson claimed to have faith-healing abilities and put on wonderfully entertaining shows for the public. Because of her religious nature, McPherson’s relationship with Ormiston created something of a scandal in 1925, and their disappearance in 1926 made headlines across the country.

A month later, McPherson turned up in Agua Prieta, New Mexico, with a wild tale of being kidnapped, but reporters quickly uncovered information to prove that she had been with Ormiston the entire time. Although obstruction of justice charges were filed against her, they were later dropped, allegedly because McPherson came up with $30,000 to appease law enforcement officials.

McPherson attempted a comeback evangelism tour after the scandal had died down, but it flopped and she slowly faded from the public’s memory. Even still, she remains the answer to a good trivia question: Who baptized Marilyn Monroe?

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Supreme Court rules in Plessy v. Ferguson

In a major victory for supporters of racial segregation, the U.S. Supreme Court rules seven to one that a Louisiana law providing for “equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races” on its railroad cars is constitutional. The high court held that as long as ...read more

Mount St. Helens erupts

At 8:32 a.m. PDT, Mount St. Helens, a volcanic peak in southwestern Washington, suffers a massive eruption, killing 57 people and devastating some 210 square miles of wilderness. Called Louwala-Clough, or “the Smoking Mountain,” by Native Americans, Mount St. Helens is located in ...read more

India joins the nuclear club

In the Rajasthan Desert in the municipality of Pokhran, India successfully detonates its first nuclear weapon, a fission bomb similar in explosive power to the U.S. atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. The test fell on the traditional anniversary of the Buddha’s ...read more

Pope John Paul II born

On May 18, 1920, Karol Jozef Wojtyla is born in the Polish town of Wadowice, 35 miles southwest of Krakow.Wojtyla went on to become Pope John Paul II, history’s most well-traveled pope and the first non-Italian to hold the position since the 16th century. After high school, the ...read more

The siege of Vicksburg commences

On this day, Union General Ulysses S. Grant surrounds Vicksburg, the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River, in one of the most brilliant campaigns of the war. Beginning in the winter of 1862-63, Grant made several attempts to capture Vicksburg. In March, he marched ...read more