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, March 11, 2010

Iconic TV role: Don Novello

The name Don Novello might have slipped considerably from public recall, but not so his character name: Father Guido Sarduci.

The good Father had his start at a San Francisco nightclub in 1973 and appeared in 1975 on "The Smothers Brothers Show," but it was "Saturday Night Live" that made him iconic.

Novello had worked as an advertising copywriter in the 1960s before making his first appearance with the Smothers Brothers in 1965. He was originally hired as a writer by "Saturday Night Live" but began making appearances on the show.

The Sarduci character was dressed in clerical garb, with a black fedora hat and sporting a thick mustache. He was presented as the gossip columnist and rock and roll critic for the Vatican's newspaper, L'Osservatore. Holding a cigarette in the European manner, Father Sarduci made strange, un-priestly observations in a thick Italian accent. On the occasion of Novello's visit to the Vatican in 1981, dressed as Father Sarduci, he was arrested for impersonating a priest, but released.

Although his celebrity derives almost entirely from his "Saturday Night Live" segments as Father Sarduci, buttressed by appearances as Sarduci on the various late-night talk shows, Novello also wrote a series of letters to well known people, signing them Laslo Toth. (The real Laslo Toth had damaged the Michelangelo' statue the Pieta in Rome.) The humor in these letters came largely from the unsuspecting responses Novello got in reply, which he published in three books.

Novello had a small role in the film "The Godfather: Part III."

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