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, April 28, 2009

Hero Wesley Autrey

Note: The following group of temporary or one-shot celebrities are heroes of one kind or another. Some did heroic deeds for which they had to carefully train and prepare; others were simply in the right place at the right time and took bold action. Most put their own safety or comfort second and took personal risks in doing something deemed heroic by most of us. Many of these heroes did something physically brave. Others did things that might be described as heroically kind.

All deserve great credit. All these individuals give the rest of us hope at a time when there are far more miscreants than heroes to be reported on in the media.

New York City construction worker and father of two Wesley Autrey became known around the world as the "Subway Superman" in 2007 when he saved the life of a young man who had fallen onto the subway tracks in Manhattan.

Autrey and his girls were waiting for their train when 19-year-old Cameron Hollopeter, a film student, suffered a seizure and fell from the subway platform onto the tracks, in the path of an incoming train.

In a remarkable show of selfless courage, Autrey jumped from the platform, shoved Hollopeter between the tracks and covered the seizure victim with his own body. He later reported that his construction work had given him a pretty good idea of the clearance between the track bed and the bottom of a subway car. Happily, the clearance was just enough, and both men survived unhurt.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented Autrey the city's highest civilian honor, the Bronze Medallion, and President George W. Bush presented the hero and his daughters to the nation at his January 2007 State of the Union address.

Donald Trump presented Autrey $10,000, and other funds were donated for scholarships for the two girls. In addition, Autrey got a year's free rides on the subway, which he still takes to work; a new Jeep; season New Jersey Nets tickets; and other tributes to his bravery.

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