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, March 24, 2009

Hoaxer Clifford Irving

A hoaxer who was in it for the cash was Clifford Irving, author of a bogus autobiography of reclusive billionaire businessman/engineer/movie producer Howard Hughes.

Hughes' long-standing status as a recluse was what made this 1971 hoax possible. Irving and his co-hoaxer, Richard Suskind, bet that Hughes' desire to avoid contact with the world would keep him from exposing the hoax. They bet wrong.

Publisher McGraw-Hill, after handwriting "experts" authenticated Irving's bogus Hughes letters, coughed up a large advance. Life magazine paid additional money to publish excerpts from the book. Irving claimed that he and Hughes had met many times in the Bahamas and Mexico to discuss the book.

In 1972, Hughes came out of seclusion by holding a phone conference call with a number of journalists, telling them that the "autobiography" was a fraud.

Irving and his wife Edith, who had participated in the hoax, eventually confessed. Found guilty, they were required to return the advance royalties. Irving was sentenced to 17 months, Suskind to six months, Edith to two months. Since his release from prison, Irving has made his living as a writer.

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