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 25, 2009

Hoaxer Tom Hauser

Young Wall Street lawyer Tom Hauser was the only hoaxer in this collection to have posed as a small child, or to have used a Teddy bear as part of the hoax.

The genesis of the hoax letters Hauser wrote to prominent government figures was a 1970 gift from a friend upon Hauser's graduation from law school: a small, brown stuffed bear, which was given the name Martin. Thereafter, when Hauser travelled, he sent his pals postcards signed Martin Bear. They enjoyed the gag and sent return mail addressed to Martin rather than to Hauser.

In 1974, on a whim, Hauser scrawled in a child-like hand a letter to New York Senator Jacob Javits, asking the senator to please make April 11, his birthday, a national holiday, then signed the letter Martin Bear.

Javits, or more likely, someone on his staff, took the letter seriously and wrote a reply, explaining why it is really, really hard, even for a senator, to establish a new national holiday.

Pleased with the prank, Hauser wrote other such letters and continued to pose as a little boy. One sent to New York Senator James Buckley told that eminent worthy that for a class project, the boy had to write letters to someone he liked and someone he didn't like. With child-like innocence, the letter identified Buckley as the one he didn't like.

Buckley's office responded with a vacuous form letter, which was even funnier to Hauser.

In his role as Martin, Hauser mailed a dime to New York Mayor Abe Beame, indicating that the dime was to be used to help the city with its financial troubles. The mayor thought this was cute and sent Martin a warm letter of thanks.

About that time, the New York Times got wind of Martin Bear and his letters printed some of them, and also began asking to interview little Martin. Soon the cat--or rather the bear--was out of the bag. In typical political style, the mayor's office issued a statement saying that they had seen through the hoax right away, which obviously they had not. The mighty Times also huffed with righteous indignation at having been bamboozled.

In a Wall Street Journal interview, Hauser remarked that by that time, Martin had become the world's most famous bear other than Smokey the Bear and Winnie the Pooh.

Much later, in 1998, Hauser, who had developed a literary streak, published a book titled Martin Bear and Friends. Oh, what good, clean fun.

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