Long-time, popular evangelist Billy Graham started his 40-year career in broadcasting when he guest-starred on a radio show in 1949. That appearance rocketed the preacher to fame, resulting in his own radio and television shows and his being deemed by TIME magazine the "Pope of Protestant America."
Graham was born in 1918 in Charlotte, North Carolina. He grew up on a dairy farm before graduating from high school and enrolling in a Christian school in Tennessee and, later, the Florida Bible Institute. He was ordained a Southern Baptist Convention minister in 1939 and then began studying religion at Wheaton College in Illinois.
Having met his future wife, Ruth McCue Bell, at Wheaton, Graham married her in 1943. They eventually had five children.
Following a memorable appearance at a Los Angeles revival, Graham received an invitation to appear on a radio show. The publicity drew massive crowds to Graham's future tent revival appearances. This, in turn, attracted news coverage, which led to his own radio program. He later hosted a television program called "The Hour of Decision," which ABC broadcast to more than 1,200 stations throughout the United States.
Graham retired in 2005. His wife Ruth died from pneumonia complicated by degenerative osteoarthritis in 2007. He attended a 95th birthday celebration in his honor in November of 2013 in Asheville, North Carolina. As of June 2015, Graham is still alive, but rarely leaves home.