Cover image for Fame at last : who was who according to the New York Times obituaries
Fame at last : who was who according to the New York Times obituaries
Ball, John C.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Kansas City, Mo. : A. McMeel, [2000]

Physical Description:
viii, 407 pages ; 24 cm
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Material Type
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CT220 .B25 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Fame at Last is the first book to use a detailed analysis of almost ten thousand obits to consider success, fame, and accomplishment in America. Drawing on a database that includes every New York Times obituary of the past six years, it highlights America's most important, famous, and fascinating achievers-the superrich, inventors, lawyers, doctors, actors, politicians, and chefs. The colorful, compelling stories of their lives reveal much about success and change in our most high-status worlds.And then there is the analysis of these many groups, shown in charts and tables. Which Americans get the longest obits and make it onto the Overall Apex of Fame? The Apex of Fame for authors? How do women do? Which eight schools educated almost 30 percent of those in the database? This lively and original book is a revealing look at who's who in America. What do the most successful people have in common? How is success in one field different from another? Fame at Last offers a complex but entertaining vision of achievement in America.

Author Notes

John C. Ball has been a professor at the University of Kentucky, Temple University School of Medicine, and the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Jill Jonnes is a writer and historian.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

This absorbing study of what constitutes success and fame in the United States is based on Ball and Jonnes's analysis of nearly 10,000 obituaries that ran in the New York Times between 1993 and 1996. More popular than political news or TV listings, the obits focus on professional accomplishment with a variety of life stories running the gamut "from the mighty chairman of IBM to the guy who introduced single-wrap cheese." To assemble their computerized database, Ball, a sociologist with a long career in studying large groups, and Jonnes (We're Still Here: The Rise, Fall & Resurrection of the South Bronx) categorized each obit according to length and whether a photo or byline ran with it. Individual chapters survey anywhere from 10 to 30 of the most famous people in specific professions (including business, medicine, law, government, media and entertainment, academia, and publishing), mixing broad sociological analysis with thumbnail portraits. Additional chapters cover women, inventors, blacks, foodies, criminals, philanthropists, and eccentrics who don't fit into a particular niche. The "Overall Apex of Fame"Dthe 28 longest obits appearing since 1993Dis topped by Richard M. Nixon (the sole president who died in this period), who was granted twice as much space as number two, Frank Sinatra. Agent, Gareth Esersky. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figuresp. vi
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
1. Fame at Last and the Database That Made It Possiblep. 1
2. The Millionaires Who Do Not Live Next Doorp. 19
3. Pioneering Womenp. 43
4. Outstanding Blacksp. 69
5. Eminent Physiciansp. 89
6. Prominent Academicsp. 115
7. Successful Publishers and Authorsp. 141
8. Corporate and Financial Titansp. 167
9. Creative Philanthropyp. 201
10. Leading Judges, Politicians, and Lawyersp. 227
11. Criminalsp. 265
12. Hollywood and TV Peoplep. 281
13. Inventors Who Changed Our Worldp. 323
14. Revolutionaries of Fine Food and Drinkp. 347
15. People with Utterly Unusual Livesp. 367
16. Some Final Thoughts on Success and Famep. 385
Appendicesp. 392
Indexp. 400