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, June 15, 2009

Inventor/Innovator Gerry Thomas

The late Gerry Thomas worked in marketing at Swanson & Sons when he conceived of the commercial viability of a practically effortless dinner that busy Americans could eat while watching television.

Thomas got the idea for heat and eat "TV dinners" from the way airlines served their in-flight meals. The Swanson TV Dinner was launched in 1954, selling for just 98 cents. The first such dinner sold was turkey with gravy and stuffing, peas and sweet potatoes, all held on a disposable aluminum tray sealed in foil. The original dinners in this pre-microwave era were popped into the oven to heat.

Some contend that brothers Gilbert and Clarke Swanson deserve credit for originating the TV Dinner, but most sources credit Thomas. The company Maxson Food Systems deserves credit for having made and sold similar dinners as early as 1945 to airlines and to the military.

The cheerful Thomas died in 2005 at age 83, a victim of cancer.

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