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, October 29, 2009

Spies/traitors: Aldrich Hazen Ames

The best-compensated spy in our nation's history is ex-CIA officer Aldrich Ames, who raked in nearly $5 million from the Soviets and, later, from the Russians.

Ames' story was dramatized in the 1998 film "Aldrich Ames: Traitor Within," with Timothy Hutton in the title role.

Ames was with the CIA for a long time: 31 years. A Russian speaker, he began his career by identifying Soviets who might become double agents for the United States. Then he himself became one for the Communists.

Ames passed along classified information and received cash payments at what are called "dead drops," agreed-upon locations where items could be dropped off and picked up.

It is a matter of great wonder that his superiors failed to notice that a man earning $60 or more.

Ames' revelations cost several Soviet and Russian double agents their lives, and finally, the agency took notice of how many of their key sources were turning up dead. Ames came under suspicion and was given two polygraph tests, but passed both.

In 1994, the FBI arrested both Ames and his wife. To avoid the death penalty, both pled guilty. He got life, she, five years. The photo below shows Ames being cuffed leaning on his ill-gotten Jaguar.

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