Hugh Marjoe Ross Gortner was born in Long Beach, California in 1944. The name Marjoe is derived from the religious names of Mary and Joseph. His parents were evangelicals, and at the age of four, arranged for Marjoe to be ordained as a minister. His parents trained him to deliver sermons at religious revival meetings. He was taught to use emphatic gestures and other forms of “holy revival techniques; and many money-making religious tactics (e.g., promising certain items purchased would heal the sick, etc.) He even officiated at a wedding when he was only four. The ceremony was attended by journalists and photographers from Life magazine and Paramount Studios invited to attend by Marjoe’s parents.
By the time Marjoe was 16 years of age, his father had absconded with the money his family had earned. (Later, Marjoe estimated the amount to be over $3 million dollars.)
In 1971, Marjoe worked with a pair of documentarians in filming how he and some other ministers operated. The documentary film, Marjoe, was released in 1972, and won the Academy Award for best documentary.
Marjoe left the ministry and became an actor performing in numerous films and television series. He later gave up acting to produce sporting events for charity. He retired in 2010.
In California, children can no longer officiate at wedding ceremonies. The minimum age to officiate is 18. According to California Family Code Section 400, other qualifications to officiate a wedding are:
(a) A priest, minister, rabbi, or authorized person of any religious denomination.
A person authorized by this subdivision shall not be required to solemnize
a marriage that is contrary to the tenets of his or her faith. Any refusal
to solemnize a marriage under this subdivision, either by an individual
or by a religious denomination, shall not affect the tax-exempt status
of any entity.
(b) A judge or retired judge, commissioner of civil marriages or retired commissioner of civil marriages, commissioner or retired commissioner, or assistant commissioner of a court of record in this state.
(c) A judge or magistrate who has resigned from office.
(d) Any of the following judges or magistrates of the United States:
(1) A justice or retired justice of the United States Supreme Court.
(2) A judge or retired judge of a court of appeals, a district court, or a court created by an act of Congress the judges of which are entitled to hold office during good behavior.
(3) A judge or retired judge of a bankruptcy court or a tax court.
(4) A United States magistrate or retired magistrate.
(e) A legislator or constitutional officer of this state or a Member of Congress who represents a district within this state, while that person holds office.