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The Sixteenth Minute: Life in the Aftermath of Fame Hardcover – March 17, 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher (March 17, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585423890
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585423897
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,556,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Popular culture's interest in celebrities who are no longer popular generally takes one of two forms. Either the formerly famous person is mercilessly mocked or they're treated with condescension and pity. In The Sixteenth Minute, authors Jeff Guinn and Douglas Perry choose a more interesting direction in profiling people whose proverbial 15 minutes have expired. The subjects, including Irene Cara of, ironically, Fame, wrestler-turned-novelist Mick Foley, and former Speaker of the House Jim Wright, are left to speak for themselves and discuss what may have brought them to celebrity, what caused them to subsequently fade, and what they intend to do next. In between the individual profiles, the authors take on one of the weirder rises to fame of the 20th century: Melvin Dummar, the aspiring entertainer from Utah listed as a beneficiary in a will purported to be from the late billionaire Howard Hughes.

Life in the 16th minute is not the same for everyone. Cara claims to be glad to be rid of the hype but is still clearly bitter about the movie and recording industries, former heavyweight boxer Gerry Cooney seems to have a much better life as a New Jersey dad than he did as an alcoholic prizefighter, former Dodgers shortstop Maury Wills has channeled his obsessive drive away from baseball and drugs and toward sobriety, and Foley, who loves being a novelist but is apparently not good at it, is continually drawn back to the ring and the fans who made him a star. But Guinn and Perry are wise to give so much room to the story of Dummar, whose constant schemes to achieve fame failed repeatedly but who by accident (or some say design) reached a level of notoriety beyond both his imagination and control. A darkly hilarious section describing Dummar's ill-fated Reno disco revue should be enough to make the reader never wish fame on anyone. --John Moe

From Booklist

Andy Warhol's famous proclamation that everyone will be famous for 15 minutes went from clever aphorism to cliche in, well, about 15 minutes. But what happens after the 15 minutes are over? Here the authors examine the lives of the formerly famous: Maury Wills, the superstar ballplayer who suddenly became a nobody and didn't know how to handle it; Kelly Clarkson, the American Idol winner who dreamed of being famous all her life and who is doing everything she can to prolong her quarter-hour; and (in several chapters) Melvin Dummar, the subject of the movie Melvin and Howard, who claimed to be the recipient of a will written by Howard Hughes. Dummar's quest for fame is hands-down the most interesting in the book, mainly because he seems so unaware of his need for notoriety. The authors reflect perceptively on why being famous can be so important, but the book hits its stride when they address the more compelling question: How do we put ourselves back together when the quest for fame has torn us apart? David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Father Time on March 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I've long been intrigued with the concept of fame and - more to the point - life in its aftermath. The Beatles were in their early 30's when their spectacularly productive ten-year run ended. And while none of the Fab Four ever stopped being recognized celebrities as post-Beatles, it's also obvious that none of their solo work matched the brilliance of the music they wrote as twenty year olds. What's it like to the live the rest of your life in the shadow of your youth? What's it like when your greatest achievemnts -- the best work of your life -- occurred in your 20's, and the next 60 years of life are marked by mediocrity, if that? Paul McCartney is in his 60's now. That's 40 years of being famous and answerinng for something he did as a kid. The Beatles are a little unusual, as they are uber-stars. But what about those who truly came and went? Whether a musician, an athlete, or an actor: Is it better to taste celebrity/fame once -- even if only briefly -- and then to lose it? Or is it better to never have tasted it at all? I was so looking forward to this book and the promise that it could mine the depths of post-fame loss, depression, identity confusion, etc. (Ever watch Vh1's Bands Reunited? I love seeing these former rock stars pumping gas or waiting tables; you can sense their sorrow and confusion. What do you do one you are no longer a rock star? go back to college? go to work for IBM? ) Unfortunately, this book spends much of the time focusing on the famed life and accomplishments of the seven-featured celebrities (who are minor celebrities at best) rather than "life after fame." Certainly no great revelations or candid insights here. It's mostly mini-bios of these people's lives, with far less attention paid to life in the "sixteenth minute." Who cares about what they did.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Loves the View VINE VOICE on August 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I should have known from the jacket, all the people selected had far more than 15 minutes of fame, but the topic is intriguing so I read it anyway. One had over 25 years (by any conservative account of time) in the spotlight. After reading the book, I got the idea the people were selected because the authors had access to them and not because they illustrated anything significant about the aftermath of fame.

The authors devote far more text to the RISE to fame and TIME OF fame than to the aftermath of fame. What little analysis provided by the authors is limp. Gerry Cooney is the only one providing any depth on subject stated in the title. Jim Wright gives a perspective of what drives someone to achieve fame in politics.

I gave this 3 stars (and not one or two) because the stories were interesting and have value, especially the ones on Susan McDougal and Melvin Dummas. But the book does not fulfill the promise of the title which is a promise that deserves to be filled.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a fascinating look into what happens to people who become famous and then lose the media attention and perks. I thought I knew about a lot of the former celebrities the book uses to explore life "in the aftermath of fame," but this book shows that what's widely believed about celebrities is usually only half the story. I thought for example that Susan McDougal went to prison rather than tell all she knew about President Clinton, but the truth is actually far more complicated than that. I didn't know anything about a few of the subjects, like baseball player Maury Wills and boxer Gerry Cooney, and this book offers vivid portraits that serve as excellent introduction. The story that's most fascinating is Melvin Dummar's. He's the guy who says he picked up Howard Hughes in the desert and that's why he was included in Hughes' purported will. Dummar's faith that fame alone would make his life better is sad and poignant, especially since that's what so many people think today about fame. The Sixteenth Minute is very well written, with compassion and humor, and tells a lot about how our expectations for celebrity in this media age are totally out of whack.
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