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 23, 2009

Whisleblower Herb Stempel

Older Americans might well recall the name Herb Stempel, the man who revealed the the TV quiz show Twenty One was rigged.

Stempel himself had been dressed to look nerdish and square, was fed the answers to questions, and was allowed to win show after show for weeks until the show's producers decided that upper-crustish Columbia University professor of English Charles Van Doren would be a better draw.

The 29-year-old Stempel, who had a high IQ and an unusually fine memory, did not like the new arrangement and spilled the beans. It came to light that several of the contestants who occupied the show's corny "isolation booth" had been coached or provided the answers before the show, which was for a while popular to bbeat out I Love Lucy in the ratings.

Twenty One was taken off the air and the industry was strongly encouraged to clean up its quiz show act.

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