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 8, 2009

One-time movie icon Hattie McDaniel

It seems somewhat odd to include African-American actress Hattie McDainel in this collection, inasmuch as she was in roughly 300 movies, but her one stellar role--the one that cemented her celebrity with U.S. movie goers--was Mammy in Gone With the Wind (1939).

McDaniel was a true pioneer among black entertainers during the long years of racial segregation. She came from Kansas and made her show-biz start in her dad's minstrel show. She both wrote and recorded songs during the 1920s and had her first movie role in 1932.

Because of the era's rampant discrimination,the only film roles she could get were as either a cook or a maid, yet she got work, saved her money and became quite well to do.

She achieved a number of firsts in show business, as well. She was the first black singer on radio, the first of her race to have a radio comedy show (Beulah), the first black actor to win an Academy Award (for her role in Gone with the Wind), and the first black Academy Award recipient commemorated with a U.S. postage stamp (in 2006).

McDaniel's two most vocal and active supporters among her white co-actors were Clark Gable and Bette Davis.

McDaniel's second most acclaimed performance was probably as Queenie in Show Boat (1936).

She died at age 57 in 1952 and since that time has been much honored.

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