In the 1940s. Jack Benny cracked about Anaheim, Azusa, and Cucamonga—then obscure towns on the far, far fringes of greater Los Angeles—being whistle stops near the end of the railroad line. Anaheim, setting of Disneyland, that jewel of make-believe, has come a long way since then. And so has Billy Graham, who returned to the City of the Angels last month, twenty years after his meteoric rise to evangelistic fame began in a large tent at Washington and Hill Streets near the heart of what is now the nation’s third-largest city.Graham later filled the Los Angeles Coliseum in a major crusade in 1963 attended by nearly one million persons.
This time, Graham’s record-shattering Southern California crusade (September 26–October 5), was held in gleaming, modernistic Anaheim Stadium, home of the Angels baseball team.
Now 50, the onetime Fuller Brush salesman from North Carolina has preached to more than 50 million people in nearly 200 major crusades and rallies since the September, 1949, “Christ for Greater Los Angeles Campaign”—and the kiss of William Randolph Hearst. After several celebrities professed faith in Christ at that series of meetings, publisher Hearst gave the order: “Puff Graham.” And the young, flashy “Gabriel in gabardine” was catapulted on his way toward national fame as “a new revivalist.” The thrust was clearly of God. Graham firmly believes.
The man, the crusade methods, and the audience have changed dramatically since those early days of sawdust and love offerings. But the charisma and the message are the same. Billy still socks it to ’em with the simple, straightforward Gospel. And the Anaheim crusade shows that America still ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more