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.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Inventor/Innovators Noah and Joseph McVicker

A fortunate happenstance gave the McVicker brothers wealth and celebrity among people interested in inventions. A clay product the two men wanted to use to clean wallpaper turned out to have excellent properties for replacing modeling clay as a toy for children.

Play-Doh modeling compound was first sold in the great Washington, D.C., department store Woodward & Lothrop in 1956. At that time it was available only in white--sort of the reverse of the old story about Henry Ford's Model T, of which Ford is reputed to have said, "You can have it in any color you like, as long as it's black." Today Play-Doh can be bought in many colors.

Play-Doh doesn't stain, isn't toxic, and stays pliable if kids can remember to keep the can sealed after use.

The happy product has sold hundreds of millions of pounds. Its rights were sold to General Mills in 1965, then to Tonka in 1987 and finally to Hasbro in 1991.

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