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Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 02/23/2007

Friday List: Celeb-Zeros -- Running on Fumes

By Liz Kelly

Hey, Charo was on 'Fantasy Island' twice. (20th Century Fox Television)

In yesterday's Celebritology Live chat, some anonymous genius posed this fabulous question:

Who invented this notion of people who are famous for being famous?

I'm not sure who invented the notion, but over the years we've been subjected to or fascinated with an array of talentless, yet seemingly ubiquitous, celebrities. The current crop of celeb-zeros is presided over by Paris Hilton, who has managed to turn her lack of skills into a cottage industry, spawning a (relatively contrived) reality show and a lucrative sideline as a paid party guest. And she's not alone -- gossip pages now regularly track the sons and daughters of the famous, recording every drunken revel or, umm, parachute jump to feed our inexplicable appetite for these empty calories.

Yesterday's chatters came up with the start of a fabulous Friday list, dropping names like Pia Zadora, Charo, Charles Nelson Reilly, Rula Lenska and the entire British aristocracy as members of this Celeb-Zero club.

Who else is famous just for being famous? Drop your knowledge in the comments section.

By Liz Kelly  | February 23, 2007; 10:43 AM ET
Categories:  Friday Lists  
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Comments

I would argue that Charles Nelson Reilly doesn't belong on the list, since he was a not-bad comic actor (Ghost and Mrs. Muir, anyone?)...as for famous for being famous, how about Joey Heatherton/Lola Falana?

Posted by: Dan-o | February 23, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Elvira.

Posted by: Oakton | February 23, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I nominate Vanna White. Talk about being famous for little talent.

Posted by: MEL | February 23, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

There was an overstuffed blond in the 80s (Angelique? Angelyne?) who bought some impressive billboard space for herself; I'm relatively sure that she's just famous for being an establishing camera shot for LA. If I'm remembering correctly, her billboard might have been featured in the opening credits of "Moonlighting". (But I could be wrong)

Posted by: CentrevilleMom | February 23, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I used to think that Bai Ling fell into this category, but now she's been on 'Lost', which is something. I guess.

How about Bobby Trendy?

Posted by: tamerlane | February 23, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Tara Reid - She may have had looks but to many drunkard trips that ended with her landing on her face have destroyed that.

Posted by: Who likes Pie | February 23, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Ryan Seacrest

Posted by: MGC | February 23, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

How about:

- the Gabor sisters? (Green Acres = Simple Life?)
- Kato Kaelin
- Anna Nicole Smith (does Playboy or a Guess ad count as talent?)
- the Bush Twins
- any socialite or debutante, really. Brooke Astor falls into this category, but there are plenty of others.

Posted by: Terry in Maryland | February 23, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Back in the 1950's, I first saw this concept described as the pseudo-event personality, as exemplified by Durward Kirby (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durward_Kirby) or (even then!) by Zsa-Zsa Gabor.

Posted by: Alan Joyce | February 23, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I think what happens a lot is that there are people who were once famous for something, but everybody has forgotten exactly what. Remember that Truman Capote movie? Evidently he wrote a book or two back in the fifties, and then parlayed that into a lifetime of smashing parties.

Posted by: Lacie | February 23, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

How about Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, or Diddly, or whatever he calls himself. What talent does he supposedly have, again? I think I missed it.

Posted by: Xopher | February 23, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Kim Kardasian (I'm sure that's spelled wrong),she's building up her celebrity by supposedly trying to stop a sex tape she made with Ray J of all people.

Oh, and the obvious Nicole Richie.

Oh, and Mischa Barton. I saw an episode of the OC once, the entire cast can be added to the list.

Posted by: petal | February 23, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Who was that guy on Fox's "Millionare" show a few years back? Certainly he had his 15 minutes of fame

Posted by: ckf | February 23, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Laguna Beach people...Brody Jenner, etc.

Posted by: slb | February 23, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

What, Charo, no famous???
Coochy Coochy, are you kiddin me??
She is a world-renown flamenco guitar virtuoso. C'mon people.

Posted by: Doug | February 23, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Kristin Cavalleri, some random chick from Laguna Beach (reality show my a@#) who is now in entertainment mags. Haven't a clue as to what she's done.

Posted by: carmen | February 23, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Re: Truman Capote--does anyone else remember that movie 'Murder by Death'? For the longest time that was the only reason I knew who he was.

Posted by: tamerlane | February 23, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

i can't believe no one has already mentioned paris hilton

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 12:59 PM | Report abuse

"The current crop of celeb-zeros is presided over by Paris Hilton, ..."

Posted by: Capt. Redundant | February 23, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

oops..missed that paris hilton bit in the blog

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Just one of the things Truman Capote wrote that you might have heard of was Breakfast at Tiffany's. He is considered one of the great 20th century american authors.

-In Cold Blood is considered the first of all true crime novels. He started it!!!

-He is the basis for Dill in "To Kill a Mockingbird"

Posted by: a reader | February 23, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

what about hugh hefner's girlfriends?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Jean Cocteau was the person who developed the idea or concept of being famous for being famous, in himself. But in this, Cocteau was not being totally straightforward in why he was really well known or famous. Cocteau was famous for his avant-garde conceptual art, and his philosophy. Paris is famous for other reasons. Paris Hilton is famous for being a selfish, self absorbed, narcissistic pig. My point is, no one is famous for just being famous. People are famous or well know for some catching aspect, or fact, or habit.

Posted by: whoo_whoo | February 23, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Isn't Charo famous for having enormous breasts? That and she's a talented performer- singing, guitar, dancing. I'm guessin the majority of you nitwits have never seen her perform, and only know her from the Surreal World and those Geico commercials. She's got more talent in her left ariola [sic] than half these posters do in their whole families.

Posted by: doodoobrown | February 23, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Gotta take Charo off the list, this is skill

"As a result of her training and skill she has been named "Best Flamenco Guitarist" in Guitar Player Magazine's readers' poll twice. One of Charo's regrets is that because of her flamboyant stage presence, she has been overlooked as a serious guitar player."

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

While being known for creating that CHARACTER she played on those cheese-oid Television shows, Charo is a world-renowned musician, who was twice voted "Best Classical Flamenco Guitarist in the World" by Guitar Player Magazine, having taken lessons at 9 by none other than Andres Segovia. For including her in this list, Liz, you have earned an honorary "empty calorie" award. You could only ever hope to possess as much TALENT.

Posted by: Will in Wilmington, NC | February 23, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

britney spears used to be famous for something (although i can't really call it talent), but now she's just famous for being famous because she's gone crazy

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Rula Lenska is another whose talent was just not known or appreciated by American audiences. I saw her perform in "A Midsummers Night's Dream" in London once and she was fabulous. I think for a while she was a member of the Royal Shakespearean Company. So it seems we have two categories: one for those like Rula and Charo who are, in fact, gifted performers but for some reason end up evoking smirks and one for those like Paris and Nicole and "The Girls Next Door" who truly are famous for no apparent reason.

Posted by: Scott F. | February 23, 2007 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I think J Lo pretty well fits into this category....unless you think that the basis for her fame is her booty.

Posted by: Mister Methane | February 23, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Lotta sour grapes here. Who knew Charo could evoke such strong emotions?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Charles Nelson Reilly can be taken off of the list, too. A Tony award winning actor isn't famous for nothing.

Posted by: not for nothing | February 23, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Lacie and Tamerlane...did you really nominate Truman Capote as being famous for...being famous? Let's add F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway too, while we're at it. Oh, we can't forget H.L. Mencken and James Thurber either.

Folks, you gotta pay more attention in your English class. And throw out your collection of video games.

Posted by: Oh. My. God. | February 23, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

In the 70's many talented people were relegated to the "almost famous" category via bad TV shows and cheesy commercials:
Sonny and Cher;
Anyone appearing on "Laugh-in", "Fantasy Island" or "Love Boat" might fit the bill; I used to think Brenda Vaccarro was no one, but she was in "Midnight Cowboy"...not just tampon commercials;
Joey Heatherton;
Steve Lawrence and Edie Gourmet; (Sp?)
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton got to be that way via their soap-opera lifestyle;
Peter Lawford;
Also don't forget Wallis Simpson. Married the would-be king and dined off that for a lifetime.

Posted by: Barb | February 23, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Edie Sedgwick was the 60's version of Paris Hilton.

Posted by: BF | February 23, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

To the Ryan Seacrest post, I will add Simon, Randy and Paula. At one point, each of these "famous people" may have been involved in activity that required talent. But the only thing that's making them famous now is a few inance words at the end of a second-rate performance (all right, a few performances were better than second rate.)

You could argue that Simon doesn't fall into this category (he is still involved in other ventures that require some skill, and his comments may be a little bit more than inane.)

Posted by: another Liz | February 23, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I don't think I'd classify her as famous, necessarily, but I always wonder why Kimberly Clark (I think that is her name? American Idol reject?) shows up at red carpet events. Who are you???

Posted by: Emmie | February 23, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

This comment from Lacie...

"I think what happens a lot is that there are people who were once famous for something, but everybody has forgotten exactly what."

...explains where the whole notion of modern celebrity came from.

When I think of the prototypes for this phenomenon, I think of the old guests on WHAT'S MY LINE or the TONIGHT SHOW and other talk shows. Bennett Cerf, Kitty Carlisle, Jaye P. Morgan, Charo, Charles Nelson Reilly, Liberace, Orson Welles, Dick Cavett, etc etc... they were all, of course, people who once ACTUALLY DID SOMETHING that made them famous, but that original meaning had been lost on new audiences, who didn't really care that Liberace was a pianist or Welles a brilliant actor and filmmaker. What mattered to those new audiences was just that these people were who they were.

Orson Welles (by virtue of his appearances on MERV in the 70s) has to be considered the Godfather of Modern Celebrity, in my opinion. In the 70s, film connaisseurs knew CITIZEN KANE and the 35-minute-long continuous shot at the beginning of TOUCH OF EVIL; radio history geeks knew WAR OF THE WORLDS. But mention Orson Welles to most people back then and eight words sprung to mind: WE WILL SELL NO WINE BEFORE ITS TIME.

Or three other words: GUEST ON MERV.

Who else, before Orson, was so famous just for being who he was?

It all came from there, as far as I can see.

Posted by: Max | February 23, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

This is not entirely an un-serious topic. Before Paris Hilton, there were Brenda Frazier, Gloria Vanderbilt, and generations of English society ladies. Lily Langtry is often considered one of the first "celebrities" as we think of them. And, you could say the whole thing started in the early 19th century with Beau Brummel, who was one of the first (if not the first) non-royal style-setter.

Posted by: WDC | February 23, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Eudora Welty and John Steinbeck

Posted by: englishmajor | February 23, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

The problem with this topic is that it collapses under a little scrutiny. Like with Charo...there's a talent there.

So I gotta run with Paris Hilton & Nicole Ritchie. There's zero reason for their fame, except as a cautionary tale.

Posted by: 23112 | February 23, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Pretty much any MTV V-J or member of the "real world."

Lala and Vanessa Minnillo anyone?

Posted by: Em | February 23, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Pretty much anyone from any reality show. Rob and Amber? They may hold the current record for most appearances on a reality show, and got to have their wedding paid for and televised, just because people would watch it. Same thing goes for Trista and Ryan. I believe this is the whole point of reality shows. They give "commoners" a chance to get their 15 minutes of fame for pretending to be drama queens on TV for 8 episodes.

Posted by: LC (Not Lauren Conrad from the Hills) | February 23, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Don Ho, Smothers Brothers, and K-Fed.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Please add Tori Spelling to this list!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

You should check out Japanese TV. They have a whole host of people who are just called "Terebi Talento" (television talent) whose only job is to appear on these "panels" on cheesy TV where they "discuss" an issue. One of these "talento" is this guy who dresses in leather hot pants, vest, and hat w/chains and does a pelvic-thrust dance. This is notable because my family came across him while taking a Cub Scout hike in the woods. Why he was out there being filmed, who knows?!

Posted by: Barb | February 23, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Nick Cannon: Besides marrying a Victoria's Secret model, what does he do as an adult?

Posted by: Lisa | February 23, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

HA! JAYE P MORGAN! And for that matter, Chuck Barris! Who WERE those people??

They weren't as train-wreckingly fascinating as Paris or Brit, but then those were simpler times.

Posted by: Margo | February 23, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

What is the nature of "fame"? What does it mean to be "famous"? Are we all talking about the same criteria? What is the criteria? I remember a certain researcher studied this phenomenon, and I recall he noted, "If fame is connected to being well known, everybody is famous. Think about it. It has all to do with context. You for instance, are famous in your own household."

Posted by: whoo_whoo | February 23, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Oprah Winfrey

Posted by: What Talent? | February 23, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Melissa Rivers

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Well there's Donald Trump... for years his net balance sheet had him running in the red - but that never seemed to stop him from being larger than life.

Still, i think having money tends to support one's famousness with some rationale... i mean if Paris wasnt terribly wealthy - would she really be the sought after person she is? Nicole Richie is a much better example of someone with virtually nothing to support her famousness - other than her famous parentage - which tends to support the argument (with the idea of 'famous' being almost viral).

A Youtube ingenue like LonelyGirl15 would have to count... or Leslie on the streets of Austin...

Posted by: Quintilius Varus | February 23, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Pretty much everyone on the pages of In Style magazine ... random children, spouses, boyfriends/girlfriends/arm candy/broodmares of various celebrities (Melania Trump comes to mind) ... and of course all the talentless oddities already mentioned.

Posted by: CA | February 23, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Charo-- guitar playing starts at around the 2:35 mark after the obligatory Cuchi Cuchi song...

http://youtube.com/watch?v=nELsjqMpwB8

She can wail.

Posted by: Chris K | February 23, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

George W. Bush.

Posted by: No Talent There | February 23, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Natalie Cole. She had a famous dad, and a an addiction to nose candy.

Her talent is having a whiny voice and ruining the song "Unforgettable".

Posted by: JS | February 23, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

The late Xavier Cugat (Mr. Charo). No wait, he was a bandleader. Nevermind. (I relaly just wanted to type "Xavier Cugat".)

Posted by: KiKi | February 23, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Well if we're going to talk about kids of singers, can someone please tell me what Kelly Osbourne brings to the world?

Posted by: Chasmosaur | February 23, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Somewhat off-topic, but you may enjoy this tribute to Anna Nichole Smith: http://www.hulver.com/scoop/comments/2007/2/8/234317/3336/7#7

You know, everything he said about her could also be said about Britney. Just substitute Louisiana for Texas.

Posted by: wiredog | February 23, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

- 'Firecrotch' guy

-perezhilton, and all those of his ilk

-

Posted by: lyter | February 23, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Billy Ray Cyrus

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

i don't think i'd include eudora welty or john steinbeck on the list -- they did make major contributions to american literature.

wouldn't have kitty carlisle on there, either. besides being married to playwright Moss Hart, and did a lot of moves, tv, etc...quite accomplished and rounded person.

what about
hilary duff
carmen electra
david gest

Posted by: b | February 23, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Hasselbeck (sp?) from The View

Howard K Stern

Omarosa

Posted by: Marie | February 23, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse

K-Fed is the king of Zero!

Posted by: comstock load | February 23, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Most of the people listed have done SOMETHING -- even if was be a Z list actress. Paris Hilton (and to a lesser extent her sister Nikki) became famous solely for partying. Nichole Ritchie became famous for being Paris' friend. I would probably put Rob and Amber (god I despise them) in this category. I would not put, Charo, Charles Nelson Reilly, Pia Zadora in this category because of their attempts to earn their fame. I would list, going back a few years, Cornelia Guest. Deb of the year in the 1980s, then dated Sylvester Stallone for awhile. That was it, but you could not open a magazine without seeing her face. That is famous for being famous.

Posted by: ep | February 23, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

"George W. Bush."

Wow, That took 3 hours and 21 minutes. Somebody out there is slipping. Or maybe this person paused to think about whether politicans are celebrities (the answer is no.)

Posted by: Anti-Che | February 23, 2007 4:05 PM | Report abuse

The cast of Jackass. Can you really consider stapling you scrotum to your inner thigh a talent? Can't recall the midgets name but I can't think of one talent he may have. Knoxville isn't that good of an actor either.

Posted by: carmen | February 23, 2007 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm officially registering a protest and requesting that Tamerlane be disqualified for citing someone who simply rode Anna Nicole's (ample) coattails to pseudo-fame. Surely this violates some fundamental law of physics, like a black hole twisting into a double-helix or something. (Cheer up, Tam: At least you got YOUR 15 minutes. lol) As for me, I'd like to take credit, pseudonymously of course, for perhaps being first to rail against "famous people nobody ever heard of," at least 15 or so years ago. Oddly enough, I can't remember which flash in the pan it was who set me off. I also must object to including Lola Falana. After all, she was a guest on The Muppet Show. Martha Stewart's always had me puzzled: First time I ever heard her name was when K-Mart started marketing sheets & towels with her name on them, now she's like a whole freakin' industry. But don't endorsements usually come AFTER you're famous? Also ... People (human beings, not the magazine, which I don't read) often refer to Rosie O'Donnell as a "comedian." Huh? What did she ever say that was funny? Like my father used to say: Steve Allen's written 6,000 songs. Name one of them.

Posted by: Audentes | February 23, 2007 4:20 PM | Report abuse

The guys from Jackass are famous for...well, being jackasses. no serisouly, they are famous for their TV show, their movies, etc. and they are not actors--the crap they do, however stupid it is, is real.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone remember Monty Rock the third from the sixties? He did nothing but reinvented himself 3 times (hence the third) and went on talk shows. He was just an oddity..... and then there was Tiny Tim from the same era -- along with the wife, Miss Vicky. Ugh. Sorry, I'm doddering. I'll go along with Paris Hilton, though. AND her friend Nicole Ritchie, plus half of the twenty-something "stars" that get on TV series and are never heard from again after the series is cancelled.

Posted by: Pinky | February 23, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

the midget from jackass--his name is Jason "Wee-Man" Acuna

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 4:26 PM | Report abuse

How could I forget Nipsey Russell, who seemingly sprang into existence fully formed and in the center square? Which brings to mind Bret Somers, whose marriage to Jack Klugman was a springboard to Match Game ... as Charles Nelson Reilley's sparring partner. Coincidence?

Posted by: Audentes | February 23, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Barb. It took me YEARS to disassociate the Brenda Vaccaro of the tampon commercials from the Midnight Cowboy B.V. You'll be hearing from my therapist's billing clerk on Monday.

Posted by: Audentes | February 23, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

To the unsigned poster of the 4:26 p.m. entry: Thanks for mentioning the little guy from jackass. I don't want to use "the m-word" for fear of the PC police, but am I the only one who found the whole "little people" as celebrity fashion accessories/hip-hop video props phenomenon more than a bit disturbing? Pedro Martinez had one when he was in Boston, but didn't bring him to New York when he joined the Mets, and I read last year that he died (the little guy, Pedro's just on the DL until the All-Star break). With Easter coming, this is sort of an object lesson for parents thinking of getting your kids a cute pet, like a baby bunny, or chicks, or ... no, not gonna go there.

Posted by: Audentes | February 23, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Lilly Langtree was one of the first: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilly_Langtree

She wasn't an actress until AFTER she became famous for just being pretty and having affairs.

I would take Charles Nelson Riley and Charo off the list. The both had actual talent and careers. They just also happened to become such cheesy caricatures that people forget what they became famous for in the first place.

Posted by: Kal | February 23, 2007 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Charo is an excellent flamenco guitarist. I guess sheis not famous for that, though. But she is extremely talented.

Posted by: bkp | February 23, 2007 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Oo! Oo! I thought of one!

PAUL LYNDE!!!

Posted by: Margo | February 23, 2007 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Em.

Lala! We love Lala. The parents are thinking, maybe, Teletubies?

No, Lala, Tiki Bar TV. Best podcast on the web.

Posted by: Dr. Tiki | February 23, 2007 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I think that it's really anyone in the "entertainment" business that doesn't have any claim to talent or fame. I don't think you can just base it on taste (ie, Tori Spelling -- she was in a very popular TV show for several years). Anyone married to or related to someone justly famous, or an elected official, is a celebrity and probably not happy about it. It's a bit snarky to name the Bush Twins and Wallis Simpson in that capacity. I'll throw John Wayne Bobbitt and William Hung out there for consideration. Nothing but purely bad taste and a desire for fame motivated either.

Posted by: Mimi | February 23, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Steve Allen wrote "This Could be the Start of Something Big."

He also wrote the score for Bell, Book and Candle, Picnic, and a lot of other shows.

He was also noteworthy for being the original late night talk show host.


Paul Lynde was Uncle Arthur on "Bewitched" before becoming the permanent center square.

Both these guys were EXTREMELY funny. Don't sell 'em short.

You can, however, sell Rosie O'Donnell short. Can't sing, can't act, can't host.

Posted by: b | February 23, 2007 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Mimi gets a gold star for using the words & phrases "John Wayne Bobbit" "throw out" and "Hung" all in the same sentence and getting it past the censors. (All things considered, were I John Wayne Bobbit, I'd rather remain anonymous. ... although I hear the Snap-On Tools endorsement's a pretty sweet deal.)

Posted by: Audentes | February 23, 2007 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Yo, b. Lighten up. I wasn't dissin' Stev-a-rino, just quoting my father to sort of illustrate a point. Man's a livin' legend (unless he's dead, who can keep track anymore?) Thanks for the liner notes. Here's one that's had me scratchin' my head for years: On the Burns & Allen Show, George is always talking about Lou Holtz in his monologues -- only it can't be the football coach, who would have been in high school (if that) when the show aired. Any ideas? ... Just sign me too lazy or preoccupied to Google.

Posted by: Audentes | February 23, 2007 5:11 PM | Report abuse

The View is a whole category unto itself, and an appropriate venue for Rosie O'D. Talk about celebrity nobodies: Joy Behar & Star Jones? (The latter would be what we used to call a has-been, only she never was.)

Posted by: Audentes | February 23, 2007 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Note to Margo: Chuck Barris wrote "Palisades Park," one of the all-time great uses of farfisa organ in bubblegum pop. And he hosted the Gong Show ... on which Jaye P. Morgan was a judge. Takes talent to know talent, I always say.

Posted by: Audentes | February 23, 2007 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Gayle and Stedman.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 5:25 PM | Report abuse

joey buttafucco
amy fisher

Audentes---
I did a google, and found this quote from one of George Burns' books:

"When I was still doing the radio show I'd go to the fights every Friday night with Harpo and a fine comedian named Lou Holtz. "


Movies included Follow the Leader (1930, School for Romance [1934], When Do We Eat? [1934]; he died Sep 22, 1980

Was well-1893 - Lou Holtz (comedian, actor: Follow the Leader [1930], School for Romance [1934], When Do We Eat? [1934]. He died Sep 22, 1980)

He apparently was well-regarded by the like of Berle, Benny, Burns. Got his start in Vaudeville, and had a review on Broadway in the 30s.

Posted by: b | February 23, 2007 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Virginie Amelie Avegno Gautreau, also known as Mrs. X, the subject of John Singer Sargent's scandalous portrait. The 20th century didn't invent the "it" girl.

Posted by: musicgeek | February 23, 2007 5:55 PM | Report abuse

With all due respect to whoever nominated Charo - despite the ditzy persona, the woman is an extremely talented entertainer and an accompliched classical guitarist.

Posted by: topper | February 23, 2007 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Paul Lynde did Bye Bye Birdie on Broadway and numerous films and television appearances. I think that folks are a tad confused...being on a game show in the 60's/70's does not necesarily make you "famous for being famous". Now Judge Ito, who was not a household name prior to the OJ mess, is somone who everyone knows, but not for meritorial achievement. Same with Kato, mentioned earlier.

Posted by: Dee dee | February 23, 2007 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Paulie Shore

Posted by: James Buchanan | February 23, 2007 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Hey Anti-Che, why don't you go back to school and learn a few things. Some politicans are/were celebs. How about Sonny Bono, Ronald Reagan, and Arnold (Governor of CA). Dick Cheney became quite a celeb when he shot his buddy in the face and chest. BTW, it took me so long because, unlike you, I have a job. Bye-bye!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Monica Lewinski. Oh...wait...she did have a talent....

Posted by: Cuban Brand | February 23, 2007 8:13 PM | Report abuse

"Hey Anti-Che, why don't you go back to school and learn a few things. Some politicans are/were celebs. How about Sonny Bono, Ronald Reagan, and Arnold (Governor of CA). Dick Cheney became quite a celeb when he shot his buddy in the face and chest. BTW, it took me so long because, unlike you, I have a job. Bye-bye!"

So the 3 examples you all chose were actors before getting into politics. Doesn't apply to Bush (either one)

Also, the blog list was about "famous for being famous" and Bush is famous for being President of the U.S. (even with his sub-par job), being governor of Texas, being part owner of the Texas Rangers, and of course being the son of a US President. Bash Bush all you want, but please at least do it in the appropriate forums.

Buh-bye!

Posted by: Anti-Che | February 23, 2007 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Dee Dee has a good point. Just because somebody who was once on the A-list winds up doing guest shots on LOVE BOAT doesn't mean they're untalented has-beens. Paul Lynde is a good case in point; he had a serious career before SQUARES. And he was also the first guy I remember to use gay mannerisms as a TV schtick---whether he was in fact gay I don't know, but that's beside the point. Nipsey Russell, BTW, was a very famous stand-up comic, but one who worked exclusively in black clubs because of the color barrier (q.v., Pigmeat Markham, of LAUGH-IN fame), but maybe by the time white audiences discovered Nips he'd turned to self-parody in blackface. I have to say the Gabor sisters are a good call, prototype Anna Nicole Smith. They were gold-diggers and made no bones about it. George Sanders (you could look him up) married two of them, first Zsa-Zsa and then Eva, before he came to his senses, although his later suicide probably can't be blamed on either one. And Eva was pretty funny on GREEN ACRES---my problem with the show is that people who might not know who George Sanders is might think Eddie Albert was a one-note hack, or that Jim Backus only did GILLIGAN'S ISLAND.

Posted by: DEGatesJr | February 23, 2007 9:12 PM | Report abuse

I nominate Scott Peterson and the many other criminals who for some reason become objects of fascination to the public. (May he rot in peace.)

Posted by: Karen | February 23, 2007 9:38 PM | Report abuse

If we want to go back a century, Evelyn Nesbit. She was famous because her husband shot her lover. She tried to parlay the media interest into a performing career, but was apparently not very talented.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evelyn_Nesbit

Posted by: notacashew | February 23, 2007 9:46 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the POTUS nomination. Place him in the Rosie O"Donnell category for opening his mouth and sticking his foot in it.

Posted by: Oops | February 24, 2007 7:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm so PROUD of the love for Charo here!!! People used to make fun of me, but she was the highlight of "The Love Boat" for me when I was 5, and I love her dearly to this day.

Posted by: Maritza | February 26, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse

While it's been fun reading all these posts from the Paul Lynde-Charo-Nipsey Russell Fan Clubs, I think they kind of miss the point.

Of course these people all were (ahem) "fabulously talented" and used to be famous for actually doing something legitimate; but at some point they crossed the line and to the public at large, it didn't matter what they'd done to become famous; just that they were who they were.

In other words, to the public at large, they were famous for being famous.

I think it's actually a topic for a separate list (Celebrities who crossed the line), but you can't blame people for not knowing that Charo was a great flamenco guitarist or Paul Lynde was a fine comedic actor when all they know is HOLLYWOOD SQUARES and kootchy kootchy.

So there!

Posted by: Margo | February 27, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Other side of the pond, but another current one: Dixie Chassay. I swear, I knew who the woman was *before* anyone in the US had heard of James Blunt. How, you ask? Because she's dating Tom Hollander. Tom isn't even that famous. But they go to EVERY PARTY IN LONDON. (She works in PR, so no comparison to Paris Hilton. But still. There must be 80 billion pictures of her in Getty Images because she's at a party every night, it seems, and gets photographed. And she used to date James Blunt and he wrote the song "You're Beautiful" about her. That *has* to count for "celebrity for doing nothing" since her PR work is never mentioned in conjunction with the parties - and the parties almost never have to do with Tom's acting career. They just go to parties.)

Posted by: MB | February 27, 2007 4:51 PM | Report abuse

The point of the thread is to identify celebrities who did nothing to earn their fame, not identify those who are past their prime. If 99.99% of the Great Unwashed don't know Truman Capote except for his being a flamboyant bon vivant, that doesn't mean his fame isn't well earned due to his literary genius. Heck, if you polled the Great Unwashed I'm betting 45% would say they believe Elvis is alive and selling insurance in Kalamazoo, and they know because Aunt Mildred lives down the corner from him. Appealing to the lowest common denominator is what gave us Dubya. And boy, do WE ever owe the world an apology.

Posted by: Save Our Schools. Pretty please with sugar on top. | February 28, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

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