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: Christopher John Boyce

The 1985 movie "The Falcon and the Snowman," starring Sean Penn and Timothy Hutton, depicted the story of Christopher Boyce (played by Hutton) and his lifelong friend Andrew Daulton Lee, convicted American spies for the Soviet Union.

Boyce's father, an FBI agent, helped his son get a job as a clerk at TRW, a California company that dealt in U.S. spy satellites. As a boy, Boyce had taken up falconry as a hobby, hence the nickname The Falcon.

Lee was a drug dealer, which accounts for his nickname, The Snowman.

Boyce would purloin classified documents, and Lee would drive them into Mexico to sell to the Soviets. Detained in 1976 on suspicion of non-espionage criminal activity, Lee was caught with classified microfilm. He fingered Boyce, who was arrested at age 24 in 1977. Both men went to prison.

Boyce said that the reason for his treason was anger over some of the ill-advised activities of the C.I.A.

Boyce escaped in 1980 and turned into a one-man Bonnie and Clyde, robbing 17 banks before being recaptured in 1981.

Remarkably, Lee was paroled in 1998 and Boyce in 2003.

Boyce and Lee have led awfully active lives for a pair of former Roman Catholic altar boys.

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