Tony Alamo’s second wife says they’re not divorced

1986-03-06 – Press Argus Courier – Alamo’s second wife says they’re not divorced
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Press Argus Courier
March 6, 1986

Fashion designer claims he won’t sign legal papers even though he married another woman

Tony Alamo’s second wife says they have never divorced and insists that his third marriage to Elizabeth Amrhein is invalid.

Amrhein is involved in a custody fight over her two children from a previous marriage but her marriage to the Alama-based minister is being called into question because Alamo’s second wife, Birgitta Gyllenhammar, 43, says she is still waiting for him to sign the divorce papers.

Gyllenhammar is seeking a five-figure monthly alimony as part of her settlement. Alamo is the president of the Alama-based Alamo Christian Foundation.

She said Alamo had sent her a telegram saying they were divorced, but she has been unable to get a divorce decree either in Van Buren or Nashville because he will not appear in court. Alamo says he married Amrhein in December.

“I’ve been trying to divorce him since the end of January,” she said. “He won’t sign the papers.”

Alamo’s Fort Smith attorneys say they do not know if Alamo divorced Gyllenhammar and if he properly married Amrhein.

The U.S. State Department isn’t sure either if Alamo and Amrhein are married. When Amrhein was arrested last week in New Orleans for trying to leave the country, her marriage license was reportedly not certified. She may be prosecuted not only for unlawful flight but also for trying to obtain a passport under false pretenses.

Despite repeated efforts to reach him, Alamo would not discuss the case. An assistant called back and said Alamo had divorced Gyllenhammar but would not say where.

The assistant said there were “many Scriptural reasons why they divorced”.

A bitter Gyllenhammar, who runs two successful boutiques in Los Angeles and designs clothes for such Hollywood stars as Linda Evans, Joan Collins and Barbra Streisand, this week, insisted she is still legally married to Alamo, although she wishes she had never met him.

Gyllenhammar, who moved to California from Sweden 15 years ago, talked of a romance that had gone sour. She met Alamo in 1983 while he was buying clothes from her for his Nashville store. Alamo’s first wife, Susan, had died of cancer the year before. Gyllenhammar said Alamo is attracted to blond women. “Susan wasn’t.”

“I fell in love with Tony,” she said. “He can be very charming.”

Gyllenhammar and Alamo were married in June 1984 in Los Angeles by Rev. Kenny Feldman (no relation) of the Sunlight Mission of Santa Monica. They had another wedding in Las Vegas, and they moved to his home in Dyer.

Miss Gyllenhammar says when the romance cooled, he would often beat her. At one time she had to go to a Van Buren chiropractor because of the pain she suffered from the beatings.

“He has flipped completely,” she said.

She threw Alamo out of her Los Angeles home last fall after he broke a 200 year old statue. “He accused me of having an ungodly statue of a man and a woman. The only thing that’s ungodly is if you have a statue of another God.”

“I tried to make the marriage work,” Miss Gyllenhammar said. “I took care of his business. I made sure he was properly dressed. I doubled the business at the Alamo of Nashville store. The monthly gross went from $50,000 to $120,000.”

She is seeking a sizeable monthly alimony so she can take care of the bills she claims he hasn’t paid.

“He left me with all the bills,” she said. “He’s not paying his bills at his stores. He still hasn’t paid me for the clothes he bought from my store in December 1984. Factories are calling me and asking me why he doesn’t pay his bills. It’s no wonder you get rich when you don’t pay your bills.” “He took all my jewelry and gave it to Elizabeth. They made a record together, and they can’t sing. She sings better than he does. He sent their record to all my friends in Los Angeles to make me mad. I’m not jealous. If he’d married Brooke Shields I would be jealous. But look who he married?

“It’s embarrassing to have a husband who gives stupid interviews and gives out crazy literature,” she went on, referring to his statements that the country is run by the Vatican.

She said, “I’m a successful designer. I’ve been asked to go to France and design clothes there. I’ve done well. I was at a party not long ago with Julio Iglesias and Elizabeth Taylor. He is a beautiful person. He is very talented. For Tony to say he beat out Julio as an entertainer of the year is completely crazy.” Gyllenhammar was referring to Alamo’s claim that the American D.J. Association chose him as entertainer of the year in 1985. This newspaper traced the advertising agency promoting the association to the Alamo of Nashville clothing store.

She said an address on his posters the urge music fans to send in the votes for entertainer of the year is Alamo’s post office box in Los Angeles.

Asked about his wealth, Gyllenhammar said she is not entitled to any of his property because all of it belongs to the foundation. She didn’t hink he will hold on to his wealth much longer.

“The IRS and the labor board will take it all away from him,” she said, referring to court rulings that have ordered Alamo to pay his followers minimum wage, as well as taxes on his businesses.

The Alamo Christian Foundation last year lost its status as a tax-exempt religious organization and is now treated as a for-profit group by the IRS.

Alamo woes are increasing

Troubles continue to mount for Tony Alamo Christian Foundation. Chancery Judge Bernice Kizer ruled Monday that the foundation’s local business must pay back sales taxes. Kizer’s ruling upheld an earlier decision by the state Department of Finance and Administration that six Alamo businesses in Alma and Dyer have no religious purpose and must pay sales taxes. The foundation might have to pay up to $70,000 in back taxes. Many of the businesses have closed down.

‘I’ll get my kids back’

“I’ll get my children back,” said Nick Amrhein of Huntington, West VA.
“The children are brainwashed, but they will be OK,” said Amrhein, who is involved in a bitter custody fight with his former wife, Elizabeth Amrhein-Alamo, who claims to have married, Tony Alamo, the Alma-based evangelist and has been living at his Dyer home with her children.

Amrhein called the Press Argus Courier this week after cult awareness groups sent him clippings that have appeared in this newspaper. Saying he appreciated the articles about Alamo, Amrhein insisted, “I’ll keep the kids. There is no doubt in my mind.”

A custody hearing will be held Monday in Huntington. Mrs. Alamo had temporary custody of the two children. Nicky, 12, and Amanda, 10, but apparently she violated conditions placed on her by the court. Last week the children were taken away from her in New Orleans when authorities suspected she was trying to leave the country.

A hearing was held the day after her arrest. When Alamo saw Amrhein at the hearing the evangelist appeared upset. “He was walking down the hallway in his black regalia and five-inch elevator shoes,” Amrhein recalls. He came to me nose to nose and pulled a Muhammad Ali on me. He had his fist clenched and started making noises. His skin is very white and clammy. He’s a riot. I wanted to push him to see if he could keep his balance in his elevator shoes. I don’t get the feeling he is very smart.”

Amrhein said he suspected his former wife might flee the country to avoid the custody hearing in West Virginia next week.

“I called the State Department to look out for my former wife in case she applied for a passport,” Amrhein said.
She was arrested as she went to pick up her passport. She said she did not plan to leave the country, although Amrhein thinks she and Alamo and the children were about to take a cruise on the Queen Elizabeth II. “They say they were planning a honeymoon cruise for later,” Amrhein said. “Even so, why weren’t my children in school last week? What were they doing in New Orleans?”

Amrhein doesn’t believe the children went to school while they lived at the foundation in Dyer. “They’re messed up children,” Amrhein said. “I’ll tell you how bad a shape they’re in. Nicky’s birthday is on January 4, and he was staying with me for a few days before then. But he had to go back to his mother the day before his birthday. That was part of our custody agreement. But he wanted to spend his birthday with me so we got permission for him to stay two days longer. To show you how much he has changed, at the hearing in New Orleans, he said I would beat him. But I’ll get the kids, and they’ll be all right. I’m not worried.

Amrhein, who owns a real estate agency, said Alamo’s followers have gone to Huntington to pass out literature that says Amrhein beat his children and is emotionally unstable.

In: 1980-1989

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