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 24, 2009

Whisteblower Henry Hill

A Californian with a truly checkered past, Henry Hill is known for having ratted on the Mafia--something not just anyone can get away with doing.

Hill grew up poor in Brooklyn and in his teens fell in with the Lucchese mob. His Irish ancestry kept him from being a "made man." He did Army service as a member of the 82nd Airborne and then returned to New York and an extensive criminal career with the Mob.

Hill was imprisoned for extortion for six years and, having been sprung, differed with his bosses over the matter of selling drugs, which his crime family opposed but he supported and practiced. After being arrested on drug charges, he feared his former associates would have him killed, became a very valuable informant, and in 1980 went into the Witness Protection Program.

He was unable to shake his proclivity for crime, however, and was kicked out of the program sometime after 1990. He then went into the restaurant business in two or three different states.

Americans got to know much more about Hill when the book Wiseguy and the movie Goodfellas dramatized his criminal career. In the movie, he was played to ever-menacing perfection by actor Ray Liotta.

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