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, June 17, 2009

Inventor/Innovator Robert Jarvik

Dr. Robert Jarvik is familiar to millions of Americans because of his activities as front-man for Lipitor commercials on TV, but his initial celebrity came around 1980 for his part in building the first successful artificial heart.

While a teenager, Jarvik invented a new kind of surgical stapler and a few surgical tools. His father was a surgeon, yet Jarvik never intended to follow in his dad's footsteps until the older Jarvik needed open heart surgery.

Turned down for admission by several U.S. medical schools, he studied medicine in Italy.

Eventually he worked with Dutch physician Willem Kolff, who had tested prototype artificial hearts on animals as far back as 1957. With Kolff's help, Jarvik designed and built the first artificial heart intended for permanent implantation into humans, the Jarvik-7.

The Jarvik-7 was tested in 1982 on a volunteer, terminally ill dentist Barney Clark. The operation was led by famed heart surgeon William Devries. The patient lived for 112 days and was considered a success.

In 1988, Jarvik also came out with the Jarvik 2000, a device designed not to replace the human heart, but to assist its function.

In 1969, Dr. Denton Cooley had implanted another type of artificial heart designed for temporary use. The patient lasted for three days after the operation.

Since the Barney Clark surgery, Jarvik's invention has been used with considerable success.

Shown below is TV commentator Rush Limbaugh bloviating in defense of Dr. Jarvik, who was under fire for his work in Lipitor commercials.

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