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.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Advertising icon Jim Varney

The late Jim Varney's name is not all that well known to the U.S. public, but his commercial persona, Ernest P. Worrell, is.

Varney gained a bizarre celebrity in this one role,, which was used in advertising a number of different products. The elastic-faced Varney, eyes bugging out and mouth agape, would introduce a commercial by slurring, "Hey, Verne." Verne remained off-camera-- to let viewers use their imagination. These commercials would usually finish with, "You know what I mean, Verne?"

The Ernest P. Worrell character was that of a goofy good old boy, one who usually did something clumsy or stupid in the ad. For reasons hard (or scary) to explain, a lot of peeople seemed to indentify with, or just like Ernest P. (The P is said to have stood for "powertools.")

Kentuckian Varney parlayed his success in commercials into a TV series and a number of less than stellar movies, but his real claim to fame came from his several hundred TV ads.

Varney had trained at Virginia's famous Barter Theater and first put his southern accent to work in ads because of an actors' strike in the late 1970s. He died of cancer in 2000.

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