SIC TRANSIT GLORIA

1. It’s Sunday, July 3, 2016.

2. It’s like the first of two Sundays this holiday weekend.

This really is Sunday. If you’re Christian and faithful, you’ve been to church today. Anyplace where stores usually close on Sunday has closed stores. Most of Major League Baseball will play day games. The talk shows were on this morning.

But this is a unique Sunday. Call it a Sunday with benefits. The sadness you feel, especially this time of the year, because the weekend is ending? Not today. The planning and shopping you do to get ready for a week of going to work and sending the kids to school or camp? You can pass.

That’s because you’re off tomorrow. Tomorrow is the Fourth of July. It’s Monday, but who cares. No work. No school or camp. Not even church.

Now, it’s going to feel like a Sunday, because you’ve got to get ready for the shortened workweek. But hey, you already had a pretty nice Sunday this weekend, so don’t get greedy.

It’s hard to beat having the Fourth of July on a Monday. Next year, it’s on Tuesday, when things get complicated. So enjoy this one.

3. Looking over the birthday list for July 3, I was struck by two names. Born on this date were Dorothy Kilgallen, in 1913, and Montel Williams, in 1956.

Ms. Kilgallen died in 1965 (which means, of course, that she never once in her life was called Ms. Kilgallen until perhaps this very moment). Mr. Williams, happily, is still with us.

What they have in common is celebrity. Both are creatures of the television age.

They’re famous – or at least they were in their time. Mostly because they’re on TV as famous people.

Ms. Kilgallen is best known for being a panelist on the TV quiz show “What’s My Line?” It ran in the late 1950s and early 1960s and involved guessing what some guest did for a living. It’s very quaint to see these shows – my Mom is obsessed with watching them on one of these vintage TV channels – on which the top prize was $100.

But she was a regular on the show.

It’s unfair to say that’s all she did. She was, in fact, a gossip columnist for The New York Journal-American, the Hearst paper. She also covered the occasional serious story, including the assassination of President Kennedy.

Williams hosted a TV talk show around the turn of this century after a distinguished military career. He’s also a spokesman for the drug industry and an advocate for victims of multiple sclerosis, of which he’s one.

But for the most part, people familiar with both are unlikely to think of them in any way other than appearing on a small screen – although Williams was around for bigger screens.

Being famous seems a lot easier in the early 21st century. There are, I am told, YouTube personalities – people with large followings simply because they’re able to post videos that interest people on the Internet video outlet. There are online personalities, and people who have become famous because they let cameras show them doing whatever they do in the course of a day.

I suppose I could become famous for writing this blog. It would bother me a little if I obtained more notability for doing this than for anything else I’ve done in a 40-year journalism career. But those are the times we live in.

There must be a human instinct for seeking fame. But it was hard to reach fruition in the days before mass communication. Were there people perceived as being famous for being famous during the Revolution? Elizabethan England? The Ming Dynasty?

Why? Why are there people who believe it’s better to be known by millions than to be good at what you do?

Or am I just wrong about this? Are people as famous as they deserve to be?

Fame is not an easy master. Dorothy Kilgallen died at 52 of an alcohol and barbituate overdose. What was the pressure that drove her to that point – even in 1965, dying at 52 was considered dying young.

I’ll try to revisit this idea down the road. Probably before I’m famous. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend.

Standard

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s