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, November 5, 2009

Murderers: Collie Leroy Wilkins

A revolting example of racism Old South style was 21-year-old Collie Leroy Wilkins, convicted of shooting and killing civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo in 1965.

Liuzzo was the only white woman killed in the protest era of the 1960s. She left her home in Detroit to aid in Martin Luther King's efforts to end racial segregation. Demonstrators had marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to demand that black citizens be allowed to register and vote.

Liuzzo and African American teen LeRoy Moton had driven demonstrators back to Selma and were headed to Montgomery to pick up more when they were overtaken on a dark stretch of highway by a car occupied by four Ku Klux Klansmen.

According to the testimony of the other three men, including one who was an FBI informer, Wilkins did the shooting.

An Alabama jury deadlocked, and on retrial, Wilkins was found not guilty. Shown on television news, he looked pleased with himself, but not for long. In federal court, he was found guilty of depriving Liuzzo of her civil rights and was sentenced to 10 years.

He served seven years, then worked the rest of his life as a mechanic. Wilkins died in 1994.

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