About this Blog

"In the future everybody will be world-famous for 15 minutes." So said the bleached-out, late lamented artist Andy Warhol. Having lived and worked in New York City, Warhol came to fully grasp the hold celebrity has on us. In this very famous sentence, he meant to point out that in a culture fixated on fame, many people will suddenly flash brightly onto the public screen, then--poof--will just as quickly disappear from public view--like shooting stars. Other individuals derive their celebrity from one stellar accomplishment (one hit song, one iconic role, etc.) that they never again match.

This blog is devoted to the one part of our celebrity culture that no one has written much about: temporary/one-shot celebrities.

The pace of modern life has quickened, and now we hear people speaking of someone's 15 seconds of fame. These "celebrities with a lower-case c" who will appear in this blog sometimes come to us from the world of entertainment, sometimes from the world of news. All are fascinating.

The need of our communications media for a continual stream of new material assures that we will have no end of colorful people who go quickly, where celebrity is concerned, from zero to hero (or villain) and back to zero. Now you see 'em, now you don't. What a crazy world, eh?

Temporary celebrities coming from the world of entertainment include one-hit recording artists; TV and movie icons who, although they might have had a great many accomplishments in their career, are remembered for one big role; standouts of reality TV; sports figures remembered for one remarkable accomplishment; and people whose celebrity came from one big role in a commercial or print ad.

News-based temporary celebrities come in many forms: mass/serial killers, other murderers of special note, sex-crime offenders, disgraced figures of government/military/business/media/religion, spies/traitors, hoaxers, femmes/hommes fatale, heroes, whistle blowers, inventors/innovators, and victims.

Celebrity Blogsburg will consider each category in turn.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

One-hit wonder Vaughn Meader

A really different kind of one-hit recording wonder was New Englander Vaughn Meader, whose 1962 comedy album The First Family was a breathtaking success, selling more than 7 million copies--that is, until the assassination of the record's "target," President John F. Kennedy.

Meader began his entertainment career singing and playing piano, then tried his hand at standup comedy. Born in Maine, he had roughly the same accent as that of the patrician John Kennedy, and even looked a bit like the president. From gigs in Greenwich Village in New York, he landed a spot on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts on television. He began impersonating the president's accent, which already had so fascinated the rest of America. With Naomi Brossart doing a wonderfully breathy imitation of Jacqueline Kennedy, Meader did his cleverly written album, which was an immediate hit. Meader quickly came out with a second album, The First Family Volume Two. His sudden success just as quickly vanished, however, when record stores removed the albums from their shelves as a gesture of respect after the assassination of Kennedy in Dallas. Suddenly , imitations of JFK, however well done, were out.

Meader did some more singing, mostly in Maine, and joined impressionist Rich Little in a parody of President Ronald Reagan, The First Family Rides Again. Meader died of pulminary disease in 2004 at age 68.

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