20 September 2006

Forgotten By Whom?

In this week's Time Out New York, with the cover story "Forgotten New York," the editors list in a sidebar a collection of past Gotham Paris Hiltons—that is, folks who were all the talk once upon a time, but whose names now draw a blank.

It's a peculiar selection. Journalists are often said to write the first version of history, but for historians, the TONY editors sure have short memories. Among the people whom they say have faded from public memory are actors Edwin Forrest and Laurette Taylor, tycoon and bon vivant "Diamond Jim" Brady (that's the ruddy-faced glutton at the right), disgraced quiz show contestant Charles Van Doren and scandal-ridden '80s pol Donald Manes.

Huh? Maybe I'm not your average Joe—I know too much useless history for that—but these are hardly non-entities. Any theatre fan knows Taylor and Forrest and what they were famous for. Manes and Van Doren were the subject of fairly recent movies ("City Hall" and "Quiz Show"). And any given dolt knows the name "Diamond Jim" Brady, even if they're not sure exactly why they know it.

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