15 Minutes of Fame. Everybody should have it once. I had mine in 1987 because I saved a life while Skydiving.
Andy Warhol, the iconic 1960s American artist, is credited with the creation of the concept that, in the future, everyone in the world would be famous for 15 minutes. This was long before the thought of the internet and YouTube. Back then, a person’s 15 Minutes of Fame depended on newspapers, a few broadcast TV channels, and periodical magazines. But, even with the lack of today’s instantaneous streaming of videos, some events caught the attention of publishers and found their way to the public through a firestorm of media attention.
I was caught in one such firestorm that gave me my 15 Minutes of Fame. My 15 Minutes were the result of an air-to-air parachute rescue of an unconscious female skydiver on April 18th of 1987. The reaction of the media would be described as “going viral” in today’s terms. Back then, it was called World-Breaking News. My 15 Minutes of Fame actually lasted longer than 15 minutes. It continued with worldwide coverage for over a month and 18 months with intermittent coverage.
Why this act created such a firestorm of media attention, I don’t know. Similar acts since then have not attracted very much media coverage at all, maybe just a 15 second spot on the evening news. Maybe it was because it was the first of this type rescue in the United States. Maybe it was the damsel in distress syndrome. I really never understood it.
On the following web pages, I will try to show just what it was like to be inside the media frenzy that defined these 15 Minutes and the ramifications from them. Also, I want to provide advice to anyone that happens to find themselves thrust into their own 15 Minutes of Fame. This advice takes the form of Ten Rules for 15 Minutes of Fame.
Throughout the pages, I have included links to some of the articles, videos, events, and awards that defined my 15 Minutes. If you click on these links, the referenced item will open in a new tab.
Additionally, there are separate pages with links to more of the print media articles, TV coverage broadcasts, videos that recreated the rescue for TV shows, and awards that I was honored with. Click on any of the tabs in the left menu to go to those pages.
If you would like to learn about the events of the rescue before you start into these pages, I would suggest that you read the in-depth LA TIMES article of May 10, 1987 or the READER’S DIGEST November 1987 article. Also, you may wish to view the segment about the rescue aired September 5, 1989 on the TV Show RESCUE 911.