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.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Victim Mary Jo Kopechne

America's most famous drowning victim was 28-year-old political worker Mary Jo Kopechne, who died in 1969 when a car driven by Ted Kennedy went off a bridge on Chappiquiddick Island.

Kopechne, known as a quiet, serious young woman, had been a secretary to Florida Sen. George Smathers and then for New York Sen. Robert Kennedy. After RFK's murder, she took a job with a Washington political consulting firm.

In July 1969, she was one of several young women who attended the Edgartown Regatta off Martha's Vineyard. After the sailboat race, a nightime party was held on the beach at Chappaquiddick Island. Ted Kennedy and the other men at the party all were married; all the girls who attended were single.

Prior to midnight, Kennedy and Kopechne left the party together; Kennedy indicated that he was going to drive her to catch the last ferry back to Edgartown on the mainland.

For reasons never properly explained, Kennedy took a wrong turn, headed in the opposite direction from the ferry landing, and drove off the side of a small, narrow bridge and into the water.

He go out of the car; she did not. Kennedy reported that he dived to try to save Kopechne but was unsuccessful.

Instead of immediately going for help, he returned to the party and then returned to his Edgartown hotel, swimming there from the island. He did not report what happened until the following morning.

Kennedy was charged with leaving the scene of an accident. Being a member of America's "Royal Family," he got only a suspended sentence and had his driver's license revoked for a year--no great burden, inasmuch as his driver usually drove him everywhere anyway.

Many theories circulated as to what happened that night, and thus ended the youngest Kennedy brother's chances of ever becoming president.

Since that time, Kennedy has settled into a more dignified personal life and has done a fine job in the U.S. Senate. The person who lost the most, of course, was Mary Jo Kopechne.

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