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I found it is usually attributed to the famous artist Andy Warhol, but also read articles that dispute it, such as

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2601226/Did-Andy-Warhol-15-minutes-fame-ripping-elses-saying.html

Edit: I have summarised the article

ACCORDING TO the above article, (Andy Warhol) the painter, sculptor and film-maker was first credited with the phrase in a brochure at a 1968 exhibition of his work in Sweden. But art critic Blake Glopnik says that the show's curator, Pontus Hulten, had told Mr.Granath, an associate, to include 'In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes' in the catalogue's compendium of Warhol quotes.

Mr.Granath found no record of the quote, but 'if he didn't say it, he very well could have; let's put it in,' Hulten reportedly said. 'So Andy's phrase was actually Hulten's,' says Glopnik.

Philip Pearlstein, who was at art school with Warhol, revealed to Glopnik that he'd said something similar himself in 1946, when the two artists first met. Warhol, still a teenager, asked Pearlstein what it was like to be the winner of a national art competition, to which he replied: 'It only lasted five minutes.'

In 2005 photographer Nat Finkelstein claimed he was the source of the line. In 1965, during an outdoor photoshoot with Warhol, some people tried to push into the shot. Warhol said, "Gee whiz, Nat, everybody wants to be famous", and Finkelstein replied, "Yeah, for about 15 minutes, Andy". "He took that line. My quote became Andy Warhol's famous words," Finkelstein said.

Mr.Glopnik concluded by saying that these stories fitted well with Warhol's style of taking inspiration from a wide variety of sources.

My question is not whether Warhol actually coined the phrase, or only 'borrowed' it from an associate: what I would like to know is whether anybody can find/remember the phrase (or something very similar) being used before Warhol began to use it?

  • Looks like he did it. phrases.org.uk/meanings/fifteen-minutes-of-fame.html – NVZ May 17 '17 at 18:03
  • ... and who had the first 15-minute slot? – Drew May 17 '17 at 20:01
  • A tip regarding the Daily Mail: look for corroboration from another source. – Chris H May 17 '17 at 21:01
  • In fact the Daily Mail is itself not sure where the phrase originated, but only suggests that A.Warhol may have 'borrowed' it from someone among his associates who used it first. My question is rather broader, as in, has anybody heard of the phrase or something very similar being used before Warhol? – English Student May 17 '17 at 21:06
  • @Mari-Lou A I have now taken your advice and edited the question to include a summary of the article. – English Student May 17 '17 at 21:34
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If it's only similar that suits you, there are many references — a variety of sports reporters, for example, are and were big on the '[sometime] of fame' phrasing. Here's an early attestation from the Liverpool Evening Express, 06 September 1941 (paywalled):

This bespectacled Scot, typically dour, who talks through clenched teeth clutching his inevitable pipe, is fond of recounting the story of his 90 minutes of football fame.

MIRRLEES, OF FALKIRK.
Visiting a village near Glasgow, he "scrounged" a game with the local church eleven. Asked who he was, he gave his name, "Mirrlees, of Falkirk."

He never "got a look” at the ball throughout the game, as he seemed to be "policed" by at least six players all the time.

Reason for this respect and attention came after the game, when he learned he had been mistaken for a player from Falkirk, the famous Scottish First Division eleven!

What might be more interesting, and a closer match for the highly derivative phrase attributed to Warhol, was the renown of astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr., for a man-in-space (note the strong futuristic element) exploit in a Mercury 7 space capsule. Here's an excerpt from an 8 May 1961 story in the Philadelphia Daily News (Warhol's home state, seven years prior to the apocryphal aphorism's supposed first appearance):

Things were happening for Shepard almost as fast as they did last Friday when he flew 15 minutes into fame aboard "Freedom 7," a Mercury capsule ....

Alan Shepard's "15 minutes into fame"

  • 1
    Thank you for a very interesting answer! I have also heard expressions like the somewhat literary 'his turn in the limelight', and 'his brief moment of fame' which is a more literal phrase. EXAMPLE read in a novel, I don't remember which: ...and he slaved away as a copy-writer in the bowels of the huge news machine, waiting patiently for his turn in the limelight, rather naively complacent that (however briefly, and without any special talent, as I should infer) he too would become a Name one day... – English Student May 17 '17 at 22:11
  • The expression 'turn in the limelight' which I quoted from a forgotten novel above is found used both figuratively and literally in this nice article from NZ Herald: Relishing a turn in the limelight Wednesday, 21 October 2015: "A little theatre in Takapuna is giving people with disabilities a chance to shine" by Catherine Smith m.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/… – English Student May 17 '17 at 22:36

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