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, April 22, 2009

Hero Oseola McCarthy

Oseola McCarthy is a shining example of someone who had a relatively hard, spare life, yet sacrificed in an attempt to help others to have things easier than she did.

An African-American woman from Mississippi who had to drop out of school in sixth grade to help her family earn enough money to live, she spent a long life taking in laundry. Her earlier goal had been to become a nurse.

McCarthy lived very modestly and made a habit of always saving some of what she earned. In 1995, she donated $150,000 of her $280,000 life savings to be used to fund scholarships at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Compared to some gifts given to universities, the amount was relatively modest, but for someone who all her life had made so little money, it was stunning.

For her heroic act, she became a temporary American celebrity whose name kept coming back up as she received one award after another, including the Presidential Citizens Medal presented to her in 1995 by President Bill Clinton.

Before she died in 1999, surely she derived some satisfaction to seeing herself referred to in the media as Oseola McCarthy, washerwoman and philanthropist.

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