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Big List: Weird fame

Here are the The Phuket News’ top five examples of how a sudden and unexpected onslaught of fame can have negative consequences.

By Jody Houton

Wednesday 22 January 2014, 04:59PM

LIFE ISN’T A HOLIDAY Remember when Rodney King was viciously beaten by six LA policemen in the early 90s? Well that was because a brave American chap by the name of George Holliday took to the streets when he heard sirens and chanced upon this scene.

Thinking he was doing the right thing, which he definitely was, he sent the video to news networks and it became big news – as it most definitely should.

Unfortunately many didn’t see it that way. Despite clear footage, all policemen involved in the video were acquitted of any wrongdoing, which led to the infamous LA riots and 54 people losing their lives, and buildings up and down the city being torched.

Who was to blame? Well if society can’t blame the police, then jabbing fingers began to point to the cameraman who had the audacity to film and document such brutality. When the media circus began, George lost his job as a drain rooter and eventually his wife.

SURPRISE SHOT The Kennedys weren’t blessed with a whole heap of luck. After his brother had been killed in broad daylight in Dallas, when JFK’s brother Senator Robert Kennedy was doing the rounds on a political campaign, he was shot dead by a fanatic.

The photo that was used in the newspapers the following day was of a dying senator with his head being cradled by surprised 17-year-old Mexican immigrant Juan Romero, who had the unfortunate luck to be shaking his hand as the gunman struck.

Many applied the flawed logic that if Romero hadn’t asked Kennedy to shake his hand then the gunman wouldn’t have got such a good shot at him.

Much like with Holliday, Romero struggled with the unexpected fame and suffered from bouts of depression and roamed from town to town trying, unsuccessfully, to return to the simple life. 

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FIRE AND STORM Following the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, a petrol station employee ran into the streets to capture the scenes with a simple camera.

Lester La Rue took a photo of a firefighter clutching the bleeding body of a dying infant that went on to be used as the cover for Newsweek. Seizing the opportunity, La Rue started banging out commemorative T-shirts and statues. The mother of the infant then got involved complaining that the image of her daughter was being commercialised.

A media storm ensued, he was fired and another photographer who took almost the exact same photo, from the same angle went on to win the Pulitzer prize.

STAR LIGHT Elizabeth Siddal was a sort of ‘old-day’ Lindsey Lohan, who, while working as a hatmaker’s assistant in Victorian London was spotted and asked to pose for a portrait ‘Ophelia’.

The only problem was that the portrait was of a woman, lying in the river dying. To recreate the scene Elizabeth had to lay in a bath full of water for extended periods of time.

Elizabeth’s portrait sessions totalled five months. However, what with this being Victorian-era London, it would have meant that it wasn’t the most ‘cushy’ of jobs.

After the success of the piece, she posed for many portraits and began a long battle with alcohol and drugs and later died from an overdose from the drugs she was taking to combat symptoms of pneumonia.  


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