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.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Misc.: Phillipe Petit

A remarkably gutsy little Frenchman, Phillipe Petit, captured America's admiration, and temporary celebrity, in 1974 when he did an extensive high wire walk between the Twin Towers--the highest wire walk ever done.

Petit had begun his unusual career at age 15 when he ran away from home in France to learn magic, juggling, and rope walking. He came to New York City in the 1970s and worked as a street entertainer. In his home country, he had already achieved celebrity for a high-wire walk between the twin towers of Paris' Cathedral Notre Dame, and he had done a similar walk between the towers of Australia's Sydney Harbour Bridge.

He was still unknown in the United States, however, until he and his helpers smuggled their equipment into the Twin Towers and up to their rooftops. They used a bow and arrow to shoot first a fishing line to the opposite tower, then passed successively larger ropes across the chasm. Finally, they secured a strong steel cable to link the skyscrapers.

Early on the morning of August 7, 1974, Petit, 24, performed on that 140-foot wire for 45 minutes, making eight trips back and forth--a quarter mile above the sidewalks. He left the wire only when rain started to fall, and was immediately arrested.

The charges were soon dropped, and the small, precise Petit was for a while the toast of the town.

He has continued to wire walk and for many years has been one of the artists-in-residence at New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

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