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.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hero Barney Clarke

Sixty-one-year-old retired Seattle dentist Dr. Barney Clarke in 1982 volunteered to be the test case for the implantation of an artificial heart.

Clarke had developed an unusual infection that weakened his heart muscle and blood flow. He was advised that he faced certain and imminent death and agreed to allow thoracic surgeon Dr. William DeVries of the University of Utah Medical Center and mecical inventor Dr. Robert Jarvik to implant the latter's Jarvik-7 heart in his chest.

This first version of the artificial heart required that tubes would have to be inserted into the patient's chest, where they would remain, his heartbeat powered by a compressor. The device, made of plastic and aluminum, was designed to take the place of the two lower heart ventricles.

The pioneering operation extended Clarke's life for 112 days, but he died following recurrent infections and several strokes.

Clarke's brave act gave medical science a start in developing a workable artificial heart and in performing other organ replacements. His operation received heavy media coverage, and his name became well known around the world.

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