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.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mass/serial killers: Sammy Gravano

Known in the press as "Sammy the Bull," Salvatore Gravano has confessed to killing or helping kill 19 people. His punishment for all that mayhem was five years in prison because of his testimony against the Mafia.

The wonder is that Gravano is still alive.

He began as "muscle" for the Colombo Mob family in New York and for the Gambino family in Brooklyn.

Called Sammy after an uncle, Gravano served two years in the Army in the 1960s thanks to the draft. In 1970, he began his string of murders, and he was inducted into the ranks of the mob in 1976. Smart and tough, he moved up the the criminal ranks and gained great influence in construction and trucking in the New York City area. He became the Gambino family's consigliere under family boss John Gotti, the publicity-hungry Teflon Don (also known as the Dapper Don).

In 1991, Gravano took an enormous chance by testifying against Gotti in exchange for a five-year term in prison. On his release, he entered the Witness Protection Program but dropped out after someone recognized him. He moved to Arizona and had some protective plastic surgery.

By the late 1990s, Gravano was into the ecstasy trade. He was convicted of this crime in 2000 and got 19 years. While in prison, he contracted Graves' Disease.

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