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 5, 2009

Homme fatale Scott Thorson

A man who has led an unusual and confusing life is Scott Thorson, entertainer Liberace's live-in lover who met the pianist when only 16. Officially, Thorson was Liberace's chauffeur and bodyguard, but in private, much more. Those Americans who remember him at all will see in their mind's eye a blond man who looked like a younger, bigger Liberace.

Liberace, born Wladziu Liberace, began his piano career mainly playing serious music but found he could make far more money playing popular songs while dressed in outfits of ferocious gaudiness, his fingers obscured by enormous rings, and his grand piano tricked out with a candelabrum.

The era of Liberace's popularity was before the great coming out for gays, and he maintained a policy of denial, winning modest settlements from tabloids that ran stories intimating he was homosexual. Most colorful of these journalistic attacks were those of British journalists, who, among other things, claimed that the rainy weather in London was actually caused by the angels weeping over Liberace's arrival there, or a story that described the enertainer's sequined outfits as appearing to have been "spun out of frog spawn."

It was some time after that period in the late 1950s that Thorson came into his life and to the attention of his army of fans. Liberace had taken his pet dog to a vet clinic where Thorson was a helper. By the time Thorson was 17, he had moved in with the exotic pianist and had begun to be showered with lavish gifts, which eventually included heaps of garish jewelry and around 25 luxury cars. Despite all, Thorson has claimed to be basically a heterosexual.

In or around 1981, Thorson had facial plastic surgery to more closely resemble his boss and partner. By this time, Thorson was on cocaine and in that same year, while buying drugs witnessed a savage beating in a hotel room, allegedly at the behest of a gangland strip club owner. Thorson agreed to testify.

Soon thereafter, he was thrown out of Liberace's penthouse by two private detectives. He then filed a palimony suit in the amount of $112 million. Changing lawyers, he went instead for breach of contract and eventually settled with a by then AIDS-ravaged Liberace for a reported $95,000.

Thorson was placed for a while in the federal Witness Protection Program for fear of gangland retribution for testifying in what was being called the Wonderland Gang case. At last report, he was out of protective status and living on disability.

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