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, April 19, 2010

Iconic TV role: Ken Curtis

Ken Curtis, born Curtis Gates, was a cowboy actor who in his younger days was a dashing, square-jawed, lady-killer leading man in Westerns, but whose real celebrity came from one role: the grizzled,illiterate sidekick Festus Haggen on TV's "Gunsmoke."

Before acting in Westerns, Curtis sang with the Sons of the Pioneers and with Tommy Dorsey's big band. He dropped out of show biz to serve in the Army during World War II. Soon after the war's end, he appeared on Jo Stafford's radio show singing "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," which became a big hit.

Curtis acted in a number of Western movies directed by John Ford and, in addition, married Ford's daughter.

In 1964, he replaced Dennis Weaver as Marshall Matt Dillon's deputy on the highly popular series "Gunsmoke." He played the rough-around-the-edges yet dependable middle-aged coot Festus until the show closed in 1975. That character was patterned after an actual man Curtis, the son of a real-life Colorado sheriff, had known in his youth.

Curtis died at age 74 in 1991.

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