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, October 28, 2009

Spies/traitors: Robert Hanssen

Over a 22-year span, FBI counterintelligence agent Robert Hanssen sold secrets to the Soviets. For his efforts, he received not only uwards of $1 million, but also a life sentence without parole. Most of his prison time is spent in solitary confinement.

Hanssen's espionage activities began in 1979, when he ratted out a Soviet spy who had been working for the United States.

Hanssen's most-publicized traitorous act was revealing to the Soviets the tunnel dug under the Soviet Embassy in Washington, D.C., to facilitate spying on that country's activities.

He also revealed the plan for where our top government officials would be located in case of nuclear war.

Hanssen was columnist Robert Novak's source for a story on then U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno's lax prosecution of campaign finance "irregularities."

At age 58 in 2001, Hanssen was given his sentence. He was spared the death penalty by having pled guilty to espionage charges.

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