Fashions, Fads & Styles –The Conveyor Belt of Life

 

Shelley Duvall is sad and mad.

“‘I was a star; I had leading roles,’ she said, solemnly shaking her head.”

“She had parked in the town square for a takeout lunch — chicken salad, quiche and sweetened iced coffee, finished off with a drag of a Parliament. She lowered her voice. ‘People think it’s just aging, but it’s not. It’s violence.’ Prompted to explain ‘violence,’ Ms. Duvall responded with a question: ‘How would you feel if people were really nice, and then, suddenly, on a dime’ — she snapped her fingers — ‘they turn on you? You would never believe it unless it happens to you. That’s why you get hurt, because you can’t really believe it’s true.'”

Shelley is now 74. She is a year and 20 days older than myself. Apparently she and I have very different expectations out of life.

I was never and will never be as famous as Shelley Duvall. She chose a path to fame and stardom. And she achieved it, for awhile. She certainly had much more than her “15 minutes” but not enough for her, apparently. And, truth be told, no one who actively seeks fame is satisfied with 15 minutes.

How many times — be honest — have you heard a name of someone formerly famous and thought, “Are they still alive”? That is the nature of fame. It is the technology of our day that even permits us to actively access the roles and events that made more than a handful of persons famous in their time.

We all live, work and accomplish on a conveyor belt of time. At some point we are thrown off. The length of the belt is varied. But the reality of the belt is fixed.

And it is why sometimes when I watch a contest such as America’s Got Talent, The Voice, Best Portrait Artist of the Year, or The Great British Baking Show, I will do an internet search on the winner to see how he or she has got on since winning. The results are variable as one might expect. In the first two listed shows the contestants are all looking for fame and fortune. The second two listed shows I think the expectations are more complicated, they are all looking for validation of their talent and recognition, but the path to fame and fortune is less clear. All of the endeavors, except maybe baking, seem very much subject to public fancy and preference — at least to the degree that one converts effort to wealth.

One winner of the Best Portrait Artist of the Year is a case in point. Christian Hook (who signs his art with the three “o”s, Hoook) won the contest in 2014. Hailing from Gibratar, he was ethnically Spanish but had easy entrée to British society. His talent is formidable, but in the art game you have to have a gimmick, and then another gimmick, and another gimmick. In the last 10 years, he has done much to keep in the public eye for his target customers. Some of his gimmicks work better than others, but his ability to move in the circles he desires and to cultivate clientele has been very strong. Covid was a setback, but at least he could paint. And he has produced a documentary, Painting the Invisible, to resuscitate his post-Covid endeavors.

The problem for Hook, and everyone who seeks fame, is the constant need to offer something new which may not be as delightful as that which he has done before, and to do it on the conveyor belt of time. All the while more people come around who clamor for the attention you are getting, the wealth that has been coming your way. We always suspected the number was pretty substantial, but with the advent of Instagram and Tik Tok, we have discovered that number is truly staggering!

At one level, Shelley’s complaint that leads this post is very narcissistic. But it is hard to imagine how one exerts oneself in the way she and others in the “arts” do so without narcissism. And narcissism blinds you to the end point of the conveyor belt. And we are adding to the blind, every day.

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  1. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Made me think of this: 

    Hugh O’Brian gave me the following points—as The Five Most Important Stages in the Life of an Actor:

    (1) “Who is Hugh O’Brian?”
    (2) “Get me Hugh O’Brian as the star of our next picture!”
    (3) “Get me somebody who’s a Hugh O’Brian type.”
    (4) “Get me a young Hugh O’Brian.”
    (5) “Who was Hugh O’Brian?”

     

     

    • #1
  2. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Rodin:

    Shelley is now 74. She is a year and 20 days older than myself. Apparently she and I have very different expectations out of life.

     

    If your world consists only of you, you might not have observed how this works in others who have come and gone before you. 

    • #2
  3. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    People like Duvall get surrounded by people (ass kissers) that never tell Them “no.” Truly la-la land.

    As Their fame fades the less the people put up Their crap. Reality is a bitch.

    • #3
  4. John H. Member
    John H.
    @JohnH

    The comments on that Althouse blog are funny. “Hollywood is your sophomore year of high school. The whole town. The whole industry. We knew this already.” And: “Helpful hint to actresses. Never play Olive Oyl.” But also: “She’ll always be Olive Oyl to me.” And: “Old people get laid off, old rockers do small clubs, old actors find a tv role. Life, get used to it.”

    • #4
  5. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    • #5
  6. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    John H. (View Comment):

    The comments on that Althouse blog are funny. “Hollywood is your sophomore year of high school. The whole town. The whole industry. We knew this already.” And: “Helpful hint to actresses. Never play Olive Oyl.” But also: “She’ll always be Olive Oyl to me.” And: “Old people get laid off, old rockers do small clubs, old actors find a tv role. Life, get used to it.”

    Years ago Merle Kessler in the character of Ian Shoales released Not Wet Yet. There is a segment called Survivors. He is talking about those who survive their brush with Fame in Hollywood. He askes:

    So how does a survivor die? Death is doing the guest spot on Magnum, PI for scale. If you need the exposure, you’re dead. Death is selling the second Porsche. Death is landing a cameo as the third victim in a drive-in* horror movie. Death is sitting by the drained pool waiting for calls that never come . . . You’re living out the zombie half-life of the once famous . . . as you sip your Margarita alone . . . You’ve run out of prime time . . . and nobody remembers your name. 

    * direct-to-video today, I suppose 

    Does anyone other than I remember Merle Kessler? 

     

    • #6
  7. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    Hay, Django, how about as a guest on The Love Boat?

    • #7
  8. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Jimmy Carter (View Comment):

    Hay, Django, how about as a guest on The Love Boat?

    Same smell. 

    • #8
  9. Jim Kearney Member
    Jim Kearney
    @JimKearney

    Rodin: She chose a path to fame and stardom

    She chose an artistic path, and fame sought her out because of her talent and unique physical type. As I recall, Shelley was the first major actor to produce a successful national cable original series. So she parlayed her name and image into an award-winning show for kids

    The Times article stuck me as puffy with a hint of exploitation. The quote where she uses the term “violence” loosely was annoying, but her mental and physical vulnerabilities set the context. Many readers probably never heard of Shelley’s 2016 Dr. Phil appearance, or about her mental health challenges.

    Promoting an indy film requires media engagement. Was The New York Times the best way of alerting her fan base? Today’s media culture is far more invasive than back in the 1980s. Publicity today has a taste for the dark side. Fame and celebrity have a short half life, and easy, safe re-entry is not guaranteed. 

    While Shelley came off fairly sympathetic in the Times, the referenced Dr. Phil interview/hype was a train wreck. At least Dr. McGraw followed up with mental health care efforts. It’s sad when celebrity opens a public window into private troubles.   

     

    • #9
  10. Annefy Coolidge
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    This got me thinking about Kathleen Turner’s recent role in the Kominsky Method. 

    On her first appearance (2nd season?) I had to turn to IMDB to figure out who she was. A once beauty – no longer. 

    At the time, I said it was either courageous or foolish. 

    After showing up a lot more in season 3, hats off to Kathleen. She – and her character – became a favorite. 

    Meanwhile, Michael Douglas is STILL hot … if I was KT, I’d have been too bitter to act with him again. 

    • #10
  11. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Django (View Comment):

    Made me think of this:

    Hugh O’Brian gave me the following points—as The Five Most Important Stages in the Life of an Actor:

    (1) “Who is Hugh O’Brian?”
    (2) “Get me Hugh O’Brian as the star of our next picture!”
    (3) “Get me somebody who’s a Hugh O’Brian type.”
    (4) “Get me a young Hugh O’Brian.”
    (5) “Who was Hugh O’Brian?”

    I really enjoyed him as “Lockwood” in the TV show “Search.”

    • #11
  12. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Django (View Comment):

    Jimmy Carter (View Comment):

    Hay, Django, how about as a guest on The Love Boat?

    Same smell.

    Mothballs. 

    • #12
  13. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    Jimmy Carter (View Comment):

    Hay, Django, how about as a guest on The Love Boat?

    Same smell.

    Mothballs.

    The original Love Boat, Pacific Princess, was sold for scrap some years ago, too small and not glitzy enough. Today’s floating behemoths hardly enable the recreation of that TV show. Instead, of love stories, we get series about the real working lives of Princess crews, not love stories. We see the inside workings of the ship and the crew doing their jobs. It is actually quite interesting. Covid ended the creation of new episodes but I hope it comes back. Perhaps it can’t because there is nothing new to report. At least Love Boat lives on in the newer ships whose horns play the Love Boat ditty. Looking for romance, bring your partner with you. You will never find the perfect guy among the 3,000-5,000 passengers, and where solos pay more unless the rare ship has single cabins. 

    • #13
  14. She Member
    She
    @She

    Rodin: How many times — be honest — have you heard a name of someone formerly famous and thought, “Are they still alive”?

    Many, many times.

    It’s why I think, in addition to that thing at the Oscars where they do a tribute to those who’ve died over the past year, half of whom (if you even watch it) you realize you didn’t know had died, they should do an equally lengthy roundup of all those you thought were dead, but aren’t.

    • #14
  15. Annefy Coolidge
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    She (View Comment):

    Rodin: How many times — be honest — have you heard a name of someone formerly famous and thought, “Are they still alive”?

    Many, many times.

    It’s why I think, in addition to that thing at the Oscars where they do a tribute to those who’ve died over the past year, half of whom (if you even watch it) you realize you didn’t know had died, they should do an equally lengthy roundup of all those you thought were dead, but aren’t.

    I saw Bob Newhart do a live show sometime in the oughts. His motivation was someone telling him in Barnes and Noble that he looked like Bob Newhart. And that person had been sad when he’d heard Bob Newhart had passed. 

    • #15
  16. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Annefy (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    Rodin: How many times — be honest — have you heard a name of someone formerly famous and thought, “Are they still alive”?

    Many, many times.

    It’s why I think, in addition to that thing at the Oscars where they do a tribute to those who’ve died over the past year, half of whom (if you even watch it) you realize you didn’t know had died, they should do an equally lengthy roundup of all those you thought were dead, but aren’t.

    I saw Bob Newhart do a live show sometime in the oughts. His motivation was someone telling him in Barnes and Noble that he looked like Bob Newhart. And that person had been sad when he’d heard Bob Newhart had passed.

    Abe Vigoda had much bigger problems than Bob Newhart.

    • #16
  17. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    Annefy (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    Rodin: How many times — be honest — have you heard a name of someone formerly famous and thought, “Are they still alive”?

    Many, many times.

    It’s why I think, in addition to that thing at the Oscars where they do a tribute to those who’ve died over the past year, half of whom (if you even watch it) you realize you didn’t know had died, they should do an equally lengthy roundup of all those you thought were dead, but aren’t.

    I saw Bob Newhart do a live show sometime in the oughts. His motivation was someone telling him in Barnes and Noble that he looked like Bob Newhart. And that person had been sad when he’d heard Bob Newhart had passed.

    Newhart is funny. 

    • #17
  18. Annefy Coolidge
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    Annefy (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    Rodin: How many times — be honest — have you heard a name of someone formerly famous and thought, “Are they still alive”?

    Many, many times.

    It’s why I think, in addition to that thing at the Oscars where they do a tribute to those who’ve died over the past year, half of whom (if you even watch it) you realize you didn’t know had died, they should do an equally lengthy roundup of all those you thought were dead, but aren’t.

    I saw Bob Newhart do a live show sometime in the oughts. His motivation was someone telling him in Barnes and Noble that he looked like Bob Newhart. And that person had been sad when he’d heard Bob Newhart had passed.

    Newhart is funny.

    He was one of my favorites. Someone I worked with in the 80s had been on his bowling league when they were young marrieds. I asked if he was funny and she replied, “everyone was funny back then”.

    • #18
  19. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Shelley Duvall should consider herself fortunate to have had any movie/TV career at all.  She had a look that was sometimes appropriate for certain roles, but she was never beautiful.  I suspect she could have played the Charlize Theron role in “Monster” without any makeup.

    • #19
  20. KCK Member
    KCK
    @KCK

    Django (View Comment):

    John H. (View Comment):

    The comments on that Althouse blog are funny. “Hollywood is your sophomore year of high school. The whole town. The whole industry. We knew this already.” And: “Helpful hint to actresses. Never play Olive Oyl.” But also: “She’ll always be Olive Oyl to me.” And: “Old people get laid off, old rockers do small clubs, old actors find a tv role. Life, get used to it.”

    Years ago Merle Kessler in the character of Ian Shoales released Not Wet Yet. There is a segment called Survivors. He is talking about those who survive their brush with Fame in Hollywood. He askes:

    So how does a survivor die? Death is doing the guest spot on Magnum, PI for scale. If you need the exposure, you’re dead. Death is selling the second Porsche. Death is landing a cameo as the third victim in a drive-in* horror movie. Death is sitting by the drained pool waiting for calls that never come . . . You’re living out the zombie half-life of the once famous . . . as you sip your Margarita alone . . . You’ve run out of prime time . . . and nobody remembers your name.

    * direct-to-video today, I suppose

    Does anyone other than I remember Merle Kessler?

     

    Merle lives forever in our hearts.

    I gotta go.

    • #20
  21. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    KCK (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    John H. (View Comment):

    The comments on that Althouse blog are funny. “Hollywood is your sophomore year of high school. The whole town. The whole industry. We knew this already.” And: “Helpful hint to actresses. Never play Olive Oyl.” But also: “She’ll always be Olive Oyl to me.” And: “Old people get laid off, old rockers do small clubs, old actors find a tv role. Life, get used to it.”

    Years ago Merle Kessler in the character of Ian Shoales released Not Wet Yet. There is a segment called Survivors. He is talking about those who survive their brush with Fame in Hollywood. He askes:

    So how does a survivor die? Death is doing the guest spot on Magnum, PI for scale. If you need the exposure, you’re dead. Death is selling the second Porsche. Death is landing a cameo as the third victim in a drive-in* horror movie. Death is sitting by the drained pool waiting for calls that never come . . . You’re living out the zombie half-life of the once famous . . . as you sip your Margarita alone . . . You’ve run out of prime time . . . and nobody remembers your name.

    * direct-to-video today, I suppose

    Does anyone other than I remember Merle Kessler?

     

    Merle lives forever in our hearts.

    I gotta go.

    I also liked Dan Coffey as “Dr. Science”. I woke up to KQED decades ago just in time to hear him answer a question that has troubled mankind for at least 100 years: Why are so many cities in the U. S. named after water towers? 

    Only a member of prime time Duck’s Breath Mystery Theatre could have come up with his answer. 

    • #21
  22. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Another type of conveyor belt 

     

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b7/Southern_pork_production_%281918%29_%2814762131786%29.jpg/1280px-Southern_pork_production_%281918%29_%2814762131786%29.jpg

    • #22
  23. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Another type of conveyor belt

     

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b7/Southern_pork_production_%281918%29_%2814762131786%29.jpg/1280px-Southern_pork_production_%281918%29_%2814762131786%29.jpg

     

    Okay, fine.  I’ll do it.

     

    • #23
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