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.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Iconic TV roles: Edward Winter

"MASH" was one of the finest TV comedies ever and boasted a stellar cast. One of the most memorable supporting cast, who made six or seven appearances in this series was Edward Winter playing the part of Intelligence officer Col. Sam Flagg.

Col. Flagg was a menacing, threatening figure, yet one who never quite successfully intimidated the two Army surgeons in the series' starring roles. Anyone who had ever had contact with military Intelligence operatives who were referred to as "spooks" just had to enjoy the way Winter handled this part.

Although Winter is most recognized for this delightful role, he has also appeared on other TV shows such as "Soap," "Columbo," "Mike Hammer,"Murder She Wrote," Night Court," "Golden Girls," Cagney & Lacey," Fantasy Island," and "Dallas."

He also appeared on Broadway, in "Cabaret" and "Promises, Promises."

Winter died of Parkinson's disease in 2001.

Iconic TV roles: Roxana Zal

At 14, Roxana Zal was the youngest ever Emmy winner. The award came in 1984 for her role as an abused child in "Something About Amelia."

Her first TV acting job, at age 12, was on "Hart to Hart." After her award, which brought her at least temporary celebrity, the pretty brunette appeared on "NCIS."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Notorious celebrity: Mehmet Ali Agca

Note: Many individuals gain their temporary or one-shot celebrity by way of the good things they do, but others, by their misdeeds. Under the heading "Notorious celebrity" will appear a miscellany of miscreants. Then will follow other more specific categories of wrongdoers who have captured the media's and hence the public's attention: mass/serial killers, other murderers, spies/traitors, disgraced political figures, disgraced business figures, disgraced media figures, and disgraced religious figures. And what a fascinating rouge's gallery they are!

Most of the notorious temporary celebrities that come to be known to U.S. audiences are either born and bred in the American brierpatch, or else live in the United States. An exception is Mehmet Ali Agca, the young Turkish man who in 1981 tried to shoot and kill Pope John Paul II in Rome's St. Peter's Square.

Ali Agca had a rough youth, was a member of a street gang, and was trained in terrorist activities by a far-right Turkish faction called the Grey Wolves. At the age of 21, he shot and killed a liberal newspaper editor in Istanbul.

Ali Agca got a life sentence but escaped prison.

In 1981, he made his attempt on the Pope's life, succeeding in wounding the pontiff in the abdomen and one arm. Ali Agca told more than one story about who hired him to shoot the Pope--Bulgarians, the Soviet KGB, the Turkish mob, and even Freemasons-- and was given a new life term.

AT one point, Ali Agca claimed to be the second coming of Christ. Before his death in 2005, the Pope met with his attempted assassin and pardoned him. The Pope also claimed that the assassination attempt was tied in with the mysterious three secrets of Fatima.

In 2000, Italian president Carlo Ciampi pardoned Ali Agca, but he was returned to Turkey to serve out his sentence for killing the editor. Italy's Supreme Court overruled Ciampi's pardon.

Notorious celebrity: Gilbert Bland

The name Gilbert Bland enjoyed a tiny shard of temporary media-awarded celebrity in 1995 when he was caught slicing a valuable map out of an old book at the Peabody Library in Baltimore, MD.

Bland is presented here as a single example of what some people term a "slasher"--someone who defaces and steals old and rare documents.

Bland was a Florida antiques dealer who specialized in old maps. Like other slashers, he would visit the rare book room of various libraries, locate his prizes, cut them out of their books, and spirit them out of the libary under his clothing.

When caught by Peabody guards, he reportedly had four old maps on him. Eventually he was charged with the theft of some 250 old and valuable maps. In 2000, a travel writer named Miles Harvey published a book about Bland's escapades: "The Island of Lost Maps."

Notorious celebrity: Lorena Bobbitt

When crime involves sex in some way, temporary celebrity of the notorious kind is usually not far behind. Such was the case when Lorena Bobbitt grabbed a knife and gave her allegedly abusive husband, John Wayne Bobbitt, a very special whack, cutting off his, er...member while he slept.

The ex-Marine and nightclub bouncer's missing part was located and reattached surgically.

Lorena was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1993 and spent 45 days in a mental institution. She resumed the use of her maiden name, Gallo, and moved in with her parents.

Some years thereafter, she was accused of assaulting her mom by punching her. Not a happy story.

Notorious celebrity: Joey Buttafuocco

Joey Buttafuocco seems to be the kind of guy that trouble just naturally follows around.

His big 15 seconds of fame came in 1992 when his teen-age lover, Amy Fisher, shot Buttafuocco's wife, Mary Jo, in the head. Mary Jo recovered, and Amy, after her release from prison, has passed through a brief career as a newspaper columnist and into a dubious new career in the pornography industry.

Joey served half a year for statutory rape, had a few more moments in the sun as a television show guest, then went back into the auto repair business. In 2003, he was again arrested, this time for suspicion of insurance fraud.

A photo of Joey and May Jo appears below.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Notorious celebrity: Andrew Burnett

A 2001 road rage crime that completely revolted American audiences was committed outside the San Jose International Airport by 27-year-old Andrew Burnett.

Upset that driver Sara McBurnett had involved him in a fender bender, the angry young man stopped his own car, stomped up to her driver's window, reached in, grabbed her bichon frise dog Leo, and threw the tiny creature out into traffic, where it was instantly killed.

In court, his lawyer argued that the dog had bitten him. Having none of that, the jury found him guilty and gave him three years. It came to light that he had reportedly beaten another dog to death in 1995.

Remarkably, Burnett, serving as his own attorney, brought suit against McBurnett in 2003 for libel and mental anguish (emotional distress).

Notorious celebrity: Santos Cardona

This blogger feels a trifle mean for including Santos Cardona in this section of the blog because Cardona was killed while on military duty in Afghanistan in 2009. Still, the events that brought him his 15 seconds of fame were not at all admirable even though he was no doubt acting under orders.

Sgt. Cardona was one of the U.S. Army MPs shown on videotape torturing prisoners at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq during 2003 and 2004.

Specifically, Cardona was a dog handler and was shown having his dog menace and bite various prisoners. In 2006, a military court found him guilty of dereliction of duty and demoted him to specialist, fined him, and gave him 90 days at hard labor.

Some Americans, safe at home but still frightened, applauded his actions. Others pointed out that by mistreating or torturing prisoners, we lower ourselves to the level of our enemy. Still others were convinced that the enlisted men and women shown in the Abu Ghraib videos seen on television around the world were simply the fall guys or scapegoats for their superiors, who had approved such measures. Some said the orders from the top had come from the White House and from the CIA.

Cardona served his time and returned to active duty. He was reinstated as a sergeant and was sent to Kuwait, ironically to train Iraqi police. Embarrassed, the Army announced that he would be returned stateside for a different assignment.

Notorious celebrity: Robert Chambers

The Preppie Killer" was the sobriquet given by the media in 1986 to the strapping and fashionable looking Robert E. Chambers, Jr., who eventually pled guilty to manslaughter in the death of an 18-year-old girl with whom he had had sex.

The victim was Jennifer Levin, the place of the crime, New York City's Central Park.

Chambers was given his sobriquet because he had been a scholarship student at various prep schools before he entered and was thrown out of Boston University.

The victim's body was found the day after the killing not far from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The cause of death had been strangulation.

Chambers admitted having had sex with Levin after the two left a bar, but he claimed that she had demanded rough sex. His jury gave him 5 to 15 years.

He was released in 2003 and in 2004, he was arrested on drug charges. Having served a short term, Chambers, by this time 41, was again arrested in 2007 for selling drugs. This time his sentence as 19 years.

Notorious celebrity: D.B. Cooper

The world of temporary and one-shot celebrity has a few lingering mysteries. One such is the actual fate of the 1971 airline highjacker who called himself D.B. Cooper.

His criminal feat was to highjack a Northwest Orient airliner at the Seattle-Takoma Airport and demand $200,000 and four parachutes from that company ere he blow up the plane.

When the company complied, he released the plane's 36 passengers and two of the crew members and then ordered the captain to take off for Mexico. The extortionist/highjacker jumped with his loot from the plane at 10,000 feet into wet,frigid weather in a wildnerness area north of Portland, Oregon.

Some think he escaped with the loot. Others think he died of exposure. No one is certain what happened to the man, and no one is sure of his actual identity.

In 1995, an antiques dealer in Pensacola,Florida, on his death bed, claimed that he was D.B. Cooper. This man, Duane Weber, had a shady past and at one time had been known as John C. Collins. According to his surviving wife, Weber's physical description matched that of the mysterious Cooper. She apparently had been unaware that Weber had served multiple stretches in prison for such offenses as burglary and forgery.

Others think that Cooper's actual name was Richard Floyd McCoy. McCoy was a Vietnam veteran and a Mormon who in 1972 died in a shootout with authorities in Virginia Beach, VA.

In 1980, a young man found $5,800 near the Columbia River. Some believe that this money was part of the Cooper ransom. But again, no one is sure.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Notorious celebrity: Amy Fisher

The press called her the "Long Island Lolita." When she was but sweet 17,she shot her older lover's wife, wounding her badly.

Fisher had met Joey Buttafuocco when she took her car to his body shop. The two began an affair while she was a 16-year-old high school student.

According to her own account of her childhood, her early years were sexually abusive.

Still in her teens, Fisher went to work for an "escort service," continuing her affair with Buttafuocco. When he refused to leave his wife, she attempted suicide. Later, according to Fisher's account, Buttafuocco told her she should shoot his wife, Mary Jo. In 1992, Fisher did so.

Mary Jo Buttafuocco recovered from her headwound and fingered Amy Fisher as the shooter. Fisher pled not guilty, but her lawyer arranged a plea agreement. Fisher served seven years of her sentence.

In 1993, Buttafuocco was convicted of statutory rape and served six months.
He moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. He was caught in a sting operation for having solicited sex with what turned out to be an undercover officer. He also got into trouble for insurance fraud.

Fisher, remarkably, got a job as a columnist for the Long Island Press and also wrote a book about her life. Her columnist career ended in 2005, but in 2008, she became a commentator on truTV.

Thereafter, she became a stripper and pornography performer. She is shown below in a 2008 photo with her husband Lou Bellera.

Notorious celebrity: David Duke

The modern-day voice of white separatism and racial segregation is David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

In his college days at Louisiana State University, Duke celebrated Hitler's birthday and often wore a Nazi uniform on campus--a harbinger of things to come.

In 1967, Duke joined the Klan, an organization he later tried to update. Goodbye pointey-headed white robes, hello coats and ties. In 1978, Duke and the Klan parted ways, and he formed his own organization,the National Association for the Advancement of White People.

During a long career, Duke has represented Louisiana as a state representative and has run unsuccessfully for the Louisiana Senate, both the U.S. Senate and House, Governor of Louisiana, and President of the United States. He has kept in front of his public with an Internet radio show of his own.

In 2002, he pled gulity to tax evasion and was given a term of 15 months in prison. He was released in 2004. He has authored books, including his own version of Hitler's "Mein Kampf," titled "My Awakening."

As of 2009, he was living in Austria.