Russell, now 86, starred in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" and hung out with Howard Hughes. But she gave her heart to the Lord at age 5, she said in a recent interview.
"I had four brothers who built my mother a small amphitheater, surrounded by trees, at our two-acre Van Nuys home, where we held Friday night prayer meetings for relatives and studio folk," Russell said.
"I remember wheeling a former soldier, wounded in the war, down that sawdust aisle [in 1949] to meet Billy and receive the Lord. I can't remember his name, but I remember how happy it made me, and him too."
Russell still sings and dances on stage in Santa Maria, where she lives.
Lockhart said she herself was spellbound at Graham's 1957 Madison Square Garden crusade. "Just to see the power he had was such a volatile experience," she said.
Another disciple was Edward O. Garver, pastor of a Yucca Valley church. He took a leave to journey to Los Angeles and pass out hymnals during Graham's daytime revival meetings. At night, he worked as a watchman at the big tent, where he prayed with those who had arrived too late to see Graham.
"I heard the shuffle of their feet and sobs in the darkness," he told The Times in 1949.
Evelyn Penner Harrison, now 76, came to hear Graham too.
"I was 18 then, and remember going alone, taking the bus and a streetcar to get there," she said in a recent interview. "Ever since that 1949 revival, I've loved going to Christian concerts and prayer meetings. Anything connected to the Grahams, and I am there."
Today, she is a retired teacher living in San Dimas.
On Nov. 20, 1949, as the 57-day revival closed, Graham preached his 65th sermon and final message: "The revival that started here won't end with the folding of this tent," he said. "This is not it yet, but revival will come."
He continued: "I have in my pocket a telegram from the Philadelphia Presbytery that 125 pastors there are praying that this campaign will launch a nationwide revival."
And so it did. Graham held more than 400 crusades worldwide. He came back to Los Angeles at least eight times, most recently in 2004.
Graham, now 88 and in ill health, was released last week from the hospital. His wife of 64 years, Ruth, died in June from complications of pneumonia. The old canvas tent where he held his first blockbuster is on display at his new 40,000-square-foot museum in Charlotte, N.C.
But he remains a modest man -- unlike some televangelists who might come to mind. The museum was his supporters' idea. Graham reluctantly gave it his blessing only because he was persuaded that the project would serve as a perpetual crusade, a tribute not to him but to Jesus Christ.
After he toured it in May, however, he said gruffly: "Too much Billy Graham."