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.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Hero Ashley Smith

Twenty-six-year-old Ashley Copeland Smith, who had plenty of personal troubles of her own, became a heroic figure in a most unusual way on the night of March 13, 2005.

In that morning's wee hours, she went out to buy cigarettes. When she returned to her apartment, a young black man who had just committed four murders and one rape forced his way into her apartment.

Ashley initially was bound and gagged with tape, but soon the man wanted to talk. He indicated to her that all he wanted was a place to hide and to regain some normalcy for a little while.

Smith read to him from the Bible and from the inspirational book The Purpose Driven Life, then prayed with the fugitive, Brian Nichols. She also made him blueberry pancakes. Somehow, she gained his trust.

Nichols told her he felt that he was already dead, but she convinced him that by a miracle, he had been sent to her so he could help him change his life. She told him he should surrender to police and devote his life in prison to bringing religion to other inmates. In return, he told her he thought maybe she was an angel sent to help him.

Nichols allowed her to leave the apartment, surely knowing that she would call 911, which she did. Nichols went quietly when police arrived.

Adding to this already amazing story was the fact that in 2001, Smith's husband had been stabbed to death. Thereafter, she had begun using drugs and had gotten into a fair amount of trouble.

Also, adding to the story's happy ending, Smith eventually received $70,000 of reward money associated with Nichols' capture.

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