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, February 24, 2009

Advertising icon Michael Vale

Fred the Baker was the claim to fame of longtime character actor Michael Vale, who died in 2005 at age 83.

Most Americans watching TV in the 1980s and 1990s would have recognized the double-chinned, baggy-eyed, smiling Vale as the front man for Dunkin' Donuts. He was a prototypical regular guy who had to roll out of bed at an ungodly hour to go to work, yet always managed a cheerful "Time to make the donuts." His big smile and small black mustache gave him a endearing image. Police, well known donut lovers, are said to have on occasion pulled him over to ask for his autograph.

Vale came from Brooklyn and had done character acting in a half-dozen movies, appeared on Broadway in "California Suite" and was on episodes of a few TV shows, such as The Cosby Show and Car 54, Where Are You?

He was reportedly in at least 1,000 commercials, more than 100 of which were for Dunkin' Donuts prior to his 1997 retirement, which was commemorated with a parade in Boston and a giveaway of free donuts to 6 million customers. Thereafter, he worked with the company's charities. Happily, nice guys do not always finish last.

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