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.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Femme fatale Fannie Foxe

The truism "There's no fool like an old fool" was proved with laser-like clarity in 1974 in a remarkable incident involving the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee and a D.C. stripper who danced as Fannie Fox, the Argentine Firecracker.

The woman in question was born in a community south of Buenos Aires and married a nightclub piano player named Eduardo Battistella, with whom she moved to the Untied States in 1965. The Battistellas were neighbors of Wilbur Mills and his wife Polly and sometimes played bridge together. Clearly, Wilbur wanted to play more than bridge (No wisecracks will be allowed here using the term "rubber.")

On the fateful night, Wilbur and Fannie had been observed dining and arguing loudly at a D.C. restaurant. Mrs. Mills was home nursing a broken foot.

Five hours later, in the wee small hours of the morning, U.S. Park Service officers on patrol near the Tidal Basin noticed a car without its headlights on and pulled it over. An upset woman, Fannie, jumped from the car and into the Tidal Basin. Inside sat a pickled Mills, bleeding from the nose and from facial scratches, the driver and another woman, who apparently was Fannie's cousin.

News of the episode got out, and at first Mills did what most white-collar rascals do: he denied everything, and in the most comical terms. Unlucky for him, a TV cameraman had caught the incident on videotape, and three days later, Mills 'fessed up--to some degree, at least.

Later, further details emerged about Mills, who had great clout in Congress, having been seen frequently with Fannie (divorced in 1973 and at the time mother of two teenage children) at a strip club, the Silver Slipper, where he lived it up and bought magnums of champagne for his chums. Sadly, Fannie apparently really loved the old fellow and, in an interview with Sally Quinn, called him "a young man in an old man's body." Ah, the indiscretions of youth...

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