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 29, 2009

Victim Essie Mae Washington-Williams

A victim of racial prejudice and hypocrisy is Essie Mae Washington, daughter of prominent segregationist U.S. Senator Strom Thurman of South Carolina.

Essie Mae's conception was the result of a youthful indiscretion of Thurman, then 22, and Carrie Butler, a 16-year-old servant in his family's home.

The baby was sent to Pennsylvania to be brought up by Carrie's older sister and her husband, Mary and John Washington. Essie Mae was not told the identity of her father until 1941, when she was 16. At that time she was allowed to meet him for the first of a number of irregular get-togethers.

Thurman paid for his daughter's education. Essie Mae went on to earn a master's degree and had a roughly 30-year career teaching in the Los Angeles public schools.

Essie Mae did not go public about her parentage until Thurmon's death in 2003, at age 100, when Essie Mae was 78. "Senator Strom" had been in Congress longer than any other American and along with North Carolina's Jesse Helms, was regarded as iconic figures of the Old South.

Essie Mae, who has showed remarkable forbearance about her life's secret story, in 2004 saw her name carved into the Thurman monument at the state's capitol building in Columbia, listed there among his other children.

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