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 17, 2009

Hoaxer Jennifer Wilbanks

Known by most Americans back in 2005 as "The Runaway Bride," Jennifer Carol Wilbanks of Duluth, Georgia, not only had second thoughts about her upcoming marriage, but hopped a bus and later claimed she had been kidnapped.

A few days prior to what wouold have been her lavish wedding (600 guests, 14 attendants, 14 groomsmen), Wilbanks, 32, went out jogging, cut her hair, and took a Greyhound bus to Las Vegas,Nevada then took another bus to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Tired and broke, she called 911 and reported she had been abducted by a Hispanic man and an Anglo woman who drove a blue van, but that she had escaped.

Her parents had put up a $100,000 reward and a search was on--until her phone call.

After being questioned by the FBI, Wilbanks admitted that her story was a hoax. She flew home, entered psychiatric care, and later reimbursed Duluth more than $13,000 for the city's search costs and paid other costs incurred by Gwinnett County.

Needless to say, the wedding was off. Charges against her were dismissed. She and her former fiance, like so many temporary celebrities, planned to profit from the bizarre episode by arranging a book deal. Instead, the two ended up suing and counter-suing one another-- suits that were eventually dropped.

An enterprising entrepreneur helped keep Wilbanks' public memory alive by marketing a barbecue sauce labeled "Jennifer's High Tailin' Hot Sauce." A Runaway Bride action figure also was manufactured and sold. Only in America...

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