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 Wilson Greatbatch

Prolific inventor Wilson Greatbatch holds a great batch of patents: more than 150 of them. His celebrity, however, comes from just one of them: the implantable cardiac pacemaker, which he invented in 1958, just one year after having received his Master's in electrical engineering.

He has remarked that he always liked studying electricity because it was a thing you cannot see.

Greatbatch began his studies after having served in the Navy during World War II. He did instrumental work with monkeys that were being used in the U.S. space program until he happened upon a way to make a pacemaker that would help patients keep their hearts beating properly. With the help of two physicians, his device was tested on animals and later on humans. It was licensed to the Medtronic Company in the early 1960s.

The kindly looking, bow tie wearing Greatbatch also set up his own research/engineering company, Greatbatch Enterpsises, where he developed improved batteries for the pacemaker.

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