Roberta Semple Salter

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Roberta Semple Salter (September 17, 1910 – January 25, 2007) was the daughter of evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson and half-sister to Aimee's other child, Rolf McPherson. Roberta was the original heir to her mother's ministry, which was later taken over by son Rolf.[1]

Early life[edit]

Salter was born in Hong Kong, where her mother and father, Robert Semple, were doing missionary work. Robert died of dysentery and malaria shortly before her birth, and her mother named her Roberta Star – "Roberta" in her father's memory and "Star" because she had brightened what her mother perceived to be a grim future.

Roberta inherited her mother's "brilliant smile," biographer Daniel Mark Epstein noted in his 1993 book Sister Aimee. She led children's services at her mother's revivals. Roberta also hosted a radio program and wrote a youth column, "Aunt Birdie," for the church newspaper.


At the age of 21, Roberta fell in love with a ship's purser while accompanying her mother on a crusade. The young couple married in Singapore, but the marriage only lasted three years.

By age 24, Roberta had become vice president of her mother's Church of the Foursquare Gospel. A few years later, she sued her mother's attorney for slander. The two-week trial ended with a ruling in the daughter's favor.

Roberta's status as her mother's heir ended when she was removed from the church's leadership in 1937.

Roberta's daughter said her mother and grandmother remained in contact following the legal battle, despite reports to the contrary. Roberta continued to provide financial support to the Church of the Foursquare Gospel, according to her daughter.

Roberta was prevented from attending her mother's funeral in 1944 by military priorities during World War II. She attempted to fly from New York to Los Angeles for the memorial service at Angelus Temple and Forest Lawn, but was bumped from the flight in Chicago when seats were appropriated for military personnel.

Commercial broadcasting[edit]

Following the trial, Roberta was invited to be a guest on a NBC radio program, Hobby Lobby. She later was hired as researcher for the show, which featured celebrities and their hobbies.

In 1941, Roberta married Harry Salter, music director of Hobby Lobby, and the couple had a daughter. The two later developed radio and television game shows such as Stop the Music and Name That Tune. [2]


Roberta died in New York City on January 25, 2007 at age 96. Her death was attributed to natural causes. [1]


  1. ^ a b Woo, Elaine (February 4, 2007). "Roberta Semple Salter, 96; daughter of L.A. evangelist". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2007-08-21. The temple, with its 5,000-seat auditorium, was the site of boisterous revival meetings led by McPherson in the 1920s and '30s. Salter grew up watching her mother preach before mesmerized crowds on elaborate stage sets, some of which in later years were designed by Charlie Chaplin. Contrary to most historical accounts, they remained in contact after the legal battle ended, according to Salter's daughter. Salter occasionally attended international conventions of the church and continued to support it financially. [Roberta Semple Salter]: She and her mother, [Aimee Semple McPherson], left, in 1930. The two later had a falling out, but they stayed in contact afterward, Salter's daughter said. 
  2. ^ "Harry Salter, Led Orchestra.". New York Times. March 7, 1984. On Radio and TV Programs Harry Salter, who for many years was an orchestra conductor for radio and television programs, died Monday at a nursing home in Mamaroneck, New York. He was 85 years old and was a resident of Manhattan. One of Mr. Salter's radio orchestras in the late 1920's had as members Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Gene Krupa and Jack Teagarden. He was the orchestra leader for such radio shows as the Hit Parade, Your Unseen Friend, Philco Show, Hobby Lobby and Mr. District Attorney and for performers such as Lanny Ross and Milton Berle. Mr. Salter was also the original producer, as well orchestra conductor, for Name That Tune, which was on television for many years, and was the creator and music director of Stop the Music, on radio and television.He is survived by his wife, Roberta Semple Salter; a daughter, Victoria, of Manhattan; a sister, Sylvia Werner, of Bayside, Queens; two brothers, Louis, of Miami, and Bert, of Lago, Fla., and two grandchildren. ...