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 Jonas Salk

A major one-shot celebrity among inventor/innovators was Jonas Salk, inventor of the Salk vaccine to prevent polio (infantile paralysis).

Salk was born in New York City to parents who had immigrated from Russia. He went to medical school in New York and in the late 1930s began working on a vaccine to combat influenza. By 1947 he was heading the University of Pittsburgh's Virus Research Lab, where he turned his attention to the poliomyelitis virus. In 1952, he tried out the vaccine he had developed on himself and his family, plus other volunteers. At that time, polio had become a major problem in America, and people were very, very afraid that their children would contract it.

Salk's vaccine was a huge success, which propelled him into worldwide celebrity.

In 1961, Albert Sabin introduced his own vaccine against polio; its difference was that it could be taken orally, which most people preferred to the needle.

Salk, who refused to patent his vaccine, died in 1995 of congestive heart failure.

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