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.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Advertising icon Iron Eyes Cody

Aside from Jay Silverheels, who played the Lone Ranger's "faithful Indian companion" Tonto,the most famous Native American of modern times might well be Iron Eyes Cody. Ironically, Cody wasn't a Native American at all, but was born Espera DeCorti, the child of immigrants to the United States from Sicily.

Oh well. At least he looked like an American Indian. His life provided living proof of the importance of image in contemporary America. (I seem, therefore I am.)

Cody was born in Louisiana in 1904 and later moved with his family to Hollywood, where the family name was shortened to Corti, then was further Americanized to Cody.

Cody got into acting in the silent movie era and eventually made appearances in at least 100, perhaps as many as 200 movies--until 1987. He also appeared on numerous TV westerns, but his celebrity came from his 1970s public service commercial for the Keep America Beautiful campaign.

In this powerful ad, he was shown, wearing Indian garb, of course, gazing sadly at a polluted river. As the camera zoomed in on his face, a tear rolled down his cheek as he contemplated what man was doing to the environment.

Although his own Indian heritage was invented, Cody married a Native American woman and adopted two Native American children.

Cody lived into his early 90s and died in 1999. Whatever one thinks about his less than forthright claims about his heritage, he really lived the part.

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