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 7, 2009

One-time movie icon Harold Sakata

Toshiyuki "Harold" Sakata's powerful physique and intimidating glare took him to success in weight lifting, professional wrestling and, finally, to celebrity in his role as Oddjob in the James Bond movie Goldfinger.

Sakata, of Japanese ancestry, was born in Hawaii. He trained as a bodybuilder, winning the title Mr. Hawaii, and as a weightlifter, winning silver in the 1948 Olympics. He turned to wrestling, first calling himself Mr. Sakata, the Human Tank, then Tosh Togo. The name Togo was borrowed from a famous Japanese admiral.

In his mid 40s, Sakata was chosen to play the role of Oddjob, the near-invincible bodyguard/caddy/ chauffeur/ killer employed by James Bond's villainous nemesis Auric Goldfinger. Oddjob's catchiest way of dispatching his victims was by spinning his steel-brimmed bowler hat like a Frisbee, decapitating the unlucky target.

In the end, of course, Bond gets the better of Oddjob--by electrocution.

Sakata capitalized on his role as Oddjob in cough-medicine ads, and an Oddjob bobble-head doll was marketed, as well. He appeared, fierce looking as ever, in other films and guested on a number of TV shows. Sakata, said to have been kind and gentle in real life, died of cancer in 1982.

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