Saturday, January 10, 2009

ConBestiary #7

Celebrity Shade: These poor souls were once human as you or I, but their life essences were captured by television cameras a long time ago. Unlike regular celebrities, who maintain the semblance of normality by regularly renewing their contact with the film industry, these people only snagged one or two choice roles over the course of their life, and never managed to act again. Without a soul or a connection to one, they must exist in a perpetual half-life where their existence is defined by that one TV series they appeared in twenty-five years ago.

Celebrity shades can be found filling out the lower echelons of the guest list at any convention, lurking in the Walk of Fame in a desperate attempt to feed on the glimmerings of their half-remembered fame. They're too weak to be really dangerous; instead, they come off as somewhat pathetic, sitting around all by themselves with an occasional burst of happiness as someone remembers their show from when they were kids. One can only hope that they somehow manage to reclaim their soul someday, either by returning to the TV studio where it's being kept or by finally breaking it free of the seductive embrace of fame once and for all.


Eric TF Bat said...

Dammit, John! How can you be so rude about poor old Wil Wheaton? You vicious man!

(Kidding. Really. I love the Wilster. He da man)

John Seavey said...

Nah, Wil Wheaton is probably better known now for his blog and his books than he is for "Star Trek" and "Stand By Me".

Really, what brought it on was wandering past the woman who played Holly on "Land of the Lost", charging for autographs.

Anonymous said...

Be kind, John.

I grew up in Hollywood among actors and writers.

It's hard to sacrifice your youth for stardom only to have the stardom quickly flicker out but now with no youth to fall back on -- while others were building supportive social networks, you were spending your days and nights thinking only about your television series because all the adults around you assured you endlessly that it would be worth it, and hey, your parents and other adults wouldn't lie to a kid, would they? And then you discovered that since it was only a job, the people you had spent your every waking hour with have no real connection to you and, even if they cared about you, their days and nights are all sacrificed to their next job.

If you happen to look too much like your own moment of fame, no one will hire you because you've been marked for life.

For example, the actor who played Dennis the Menace continued to resemble his famous character in voice and facial look for the next thirty years, so that even when he was in his 30s and had long ago given up on an acting career, people would tell him that he looked just like the kid on that old Dennis the Menace TV series. Short of plastic surgery to alter his face and his vocal cords, there wasn't much he could do about it.

I think I will be depressed all day if I go into what happened to Gary Coleman after DIFF'RENT STROKES ended.

I knew a number of one-hit wonders -- and worse, the never-even-became-a-one-hit-wonders who (none of whom you would have heard of today, of course) -- and it's not a fun thing to experience.

Sometimes I think the best thing that ever happened to me was that I figured out on my own as a child that I had no talent and my parents were good enough to let me "retire" from my unsuccessful acting career without ever making me feel bad about my lack of success.

So be kind, John.