ADDING MULTIMEDIA Broadcast Pioneer and First Televangelist Rex Humbard Dies at Age 88
“One of the 25 Principle Architects of the American Century” and Elvis Presley’s Pastor
ATLANTIS, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Broadcasting pioneer and the world’s first Televangelist Rex Humbard died today of natural causes. He was 88. Humbard, heralded by U.S. News & World Report as “One of the Top 25 Principle Architects of the American Century,” is noted as America’s first television evangelist. In 1949, Rex Humbard hit the airwaves broadcasting from the CBS affiliate in Indianapolis, Indiana and the world took notice.
“One of the Top 25 Principle Architects of the American Century”
“Today, Rex Humbard has come closer than any other human being in history…to preaching the Gospel in all of the world…more than any other evangelist, he has taken up the challenge,” touted Time Magazine.
By 1952, Rex Humbard was broadcasting weekly to millions of faithful viewers from his 5,400 seat church the Cathedral of Tomorrow in Akron, Ohio. His weekly program was carried for nearly three decades by 360 stations across the US and Canada and over 2,000 stations worldwide in 91 languages. His simple storytelling style combined with the best in Gospel music transcended cultures and doctrines, and had broad appeal to believers and non-believers around the world. At the shows peak, weekly Sunday audiences averaged 8 million viewers with the 1976 You Are Loved patriotic special garnering over 30 million viewers. The Saturday Evening Post wrote, “Putting God on Main Street has been the goal of this dedicated preacher for more than 60 years. Now, thanks to the electronic media, his Main Street stretches from Ohio to around the world.”
One of Humbard’s loyal viewers was Elvis Presley, who regularly gathered his backup singers, the Imperials, in his hotel room on Sunday mornings to watch “his preacher.” Upon Elvis’s death Vernon Presley, Elvis’s father, requested Rex to officiate the service.
Humbard’s personal appearances filled auditoriums from the Sydney Opera House, the Budokan in Tokyo, to Madison Square Garden and Carnegie Hall in New York. In 1979, over 1.2 million people filled soccer stadiums across Brazil to see Humbard preach the Gospel message. In one night at the world's largest stadium in Rio, 180,000 packed in to worship and hear a life-changing message. He also ministered to hundreds of thousands in services across Africa.
Rex Humbard was an early pioneer, using the radio and television to get his message of God’s love to as many interested listeners as possible. At age 13, he began broadcasting on KTHS radio in Hot Springs Arkansas by singing Gospel songs and inviting listeners to come hear his father preach at the local church. In the early 1940’s, Humbard began a daily radio program carried nationwide on Mutual Network and the NBC Blue Network.
Regular musical guests on Humbard’s program included Mahalia Jackson, Bill Gaither, Andrae Crouch, Pat and Debby Boone, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Johnny and June Cash, the Blackwood Brothers, the Statesmen Quartet and the Cathedrals.
Humbard was the son of a minister and a member of the Humbard Family Singers. He was born on August 13, 1919 in Little Rock, Arkansas, and he grew up in Hot Springs, Arkansas. In April 2007, Humbard returned to Hot Springs to be inducted into the Arkansas Walk of Fame.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years Maude Aimee, his sons Rex, Jr., Don and Charles and his daughter Liz Darling; brother Clement; sisters Leona and Juanita; 3 daughters-in-law; a son-in-law, 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held in Akron, Ohio. He will be laid to rest in Akron, Ohio in the Humbard Family Plot just a short distance from his mother, father and beloved sister.
To learn more about the incredible life of Rex Humbard, log onto www.rexhumbard.com.