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.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Disgraced religious figure Tammy Faye Bakker Messner

The name Tammy Faye calls to mind a weepy face caked with mascara and eye makeup and a voice oozing Christian charity while all the while talking the elderly and simple-minded out of their cash.

No doubt Tammy Faye, born Tamara Faye LaValley to husband-and-wife Pentecostal preachers in Minnesota, had her good qualities, but without doubt those qualities were shoved conveniently aside back during the profitable heyday of the money-making TV evangelists.

While attending Bible college, she met fellow student Jim Bakker. They married and began a ministry of their own.

The happy couple learned the ropes in Tidewater Virginia with the Rev. Pat Robertson, helping him found the 700 Club and the Trinity Broadcasting Network. When Smiling Pat horned in too much on their territory, the Bakkers relocated to Charlotte, N.C., and went into business for themselves with what they named the PTL Club.

They intended PTL to stand for "Praise the Lord,: but cynics suggested it must actually stand for "Pass the Loot" due to the couple's constant appeals for "love gifts" from the faithful out there in television land.

The Bakkers then used some of the loot to establish a huge amusement park, Heritage USA, near Charlotte.

Alert reporters at the Charlotte Observer began to investigate some of their sordid activities and to probe their lavish lifestyle.

In 1980, Jim broke bad with a buxom young woman named Jessica Hahn, and before you could swing a dead cat, their empire came crashing down around them. Husband Jim was sentenced to 45 years, although he somehow was released after only six.

Tammy Faye divorced him and in 1993 married one of Bakker's former partners in Heritage USA, Rod Messner, who later was convicted of bankruptcy fraud.

In 2007, Tammy Faye died after an 11-year battle against cancer. In the years prior to her death, she became an icon to gays and cross-dressers. She had also had her own line of beauty products and had done some TV work, most notably on the reality show The Surreal Life.

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