Redeemers Both: Susan Boyle and Terry Fator

( To the right is Ashley Dupre, known as “The Woman Who Brought Down the Governor of New York”)

Judging from how folks are chosen today, for star-power qualities, it’s the “Era of the Anti-Hero.” I mean, there’s Elliot Sptizer, former Governor of New York, whose house of cards came tumbling down, when he precipitously fell from grace as a result of his extramarital liaison with a call girl.

Spitzer originally made his mark as Attorney General of New York, a guy with a heretofor squeaky-clean image, who always campaigned on his promise to bring down the currupt players of Wall Street (he didn’t quite get Madoff), those power individuals who finagled the system to their own advantage, bringing the country to the edge of economic ruin. It must have been especially thrilling for them to discover their adversary’s peccadilloes, when the Feds caught him, figuratively, “with his pants down.”

What was his “crime”? Then governor of the most populated state in the nation, had been consorting with a young woman in the escort trade, for practically two years, when their relationship was exposed. Now, one would think that following such public humiliation, he’d keep a low profile. But, that’s hardly the case…

Today, Elliot Spitzer co-hosts “Parker/Spitzer,” a cable program where he and conservative newspaper columnist, Kathleen Parker, have supposed lively debate on political issues in the “Point/Counterpoint” format of years ago. What was Spitzer’s moniker in the introduction to each night’s session? “Former champion.”

Apparently, programming gurus didn’t consider it in bad taste to cast him as such.

What’s happened to former “escort” Ashley Dupre, the other half of the scandal? After lying low for a while, she made appearances and gave interviews, and then came out, in Playboy (she’s the cover girl in May edition of 2010). The hefty exposure presumably helped groom her for the position she now occupies as “The Sex Columnist” for the New York Post.

Now chastened (and allegedly chaste), she says her intimate relations will be only with boyfriends, going forward. Ashley states, too, that the life of an escort is hardly the “Pretty Woman” myth portrayed in the Julia Roberts/Richard Gere movie. She offers advice to parents on how to prevent daughters from being lured into the sex trade (Is that really a common problem?) and she doles out tips on how to better relationships. The latter’s a suspect gig for Miss Dupre’s in that she’s been privy to out-of-relationship encounters (call-girls don’t generally aspire to long-term commitments).

The Spitzer/Dupre move up the celebrity ladder (good jobs/good money) must be tough to swallow for average Johns (sorry) or Janes who slug it out every day, trying to get ahead. But there’s been a lot of that lately—questionable types winning big in the PR arena. That fact makes the emergence of the next two all the more remarkable…and heartwarming. For, just when we’re ready to throw in the collective towel concerning the belief that “talent and hard work spell success,” along come Terry Fator and Susan Boyle.

This duo proves that people can still rise to the top the old-fashioned way, with attention to their craft and hard work. Perhaps, even more remarkable, they can achieve that stellar rise later in life.

“The Man of a Thousand Voices,” Terry Fator, had a dream to be the ventriloquist whose name folks instantly recognized, in the tradition of an Edgar Bergen. He kept that dream, throughout his younger years, but fame eluded, as he continued to play the kiddee arena at carnivals, fairs, and circuses.

Then, along came “America’s Got Talent” where his quick-wit, phenomenal voice (he can mimic all the great singers) and nimble ability at working his puppets’ parts finally got him the attention he deserved. Against the odds (of a puppeteer winning), America voted him #1 in 2007. His path’s been littered with phenomenal success ever since.

The Mirage in Las Vegas offered him a multi-year year contract, purportedly worth millions; he’s sought as a showman everywhere; he just appeared as guest on Larry King Live. Now, Fator entertains “Adults-only” crowds and his shows are packed. This quick change artist who can morph into characters (in the triple figure range) brings down a packed house, nightly.

Susan Boyle, the British songstress who defied all odds by winning #2 spot on the 2009 cross-the-pond version of “America’s Got Talent” has a similar story. Appearing dowdy and older, on stage, Susan’s repertoire of vocal experience revolved around performing in church choirs, but on “Britain’s Got Talent,” Ms. Boyle wowed the world with her rendition of “I Dream the Dream,” from “Les Miserables.”

As the living, breathing embodiment of her song, she brought audiences around the world to their feet, in standing ovation. Her YouTube fame rose via millions of hits; she’s got gold and platinum record albums out; she’s been guest on Today, The View, and Larry King Live, among others.

How had both escaped serious notice before this? No one knows. They were simply performing (until now), under the radar, completely undiscovered….and that gives the rest of the world pause for hope.

The tears we shed when Susan Boyle sang on stage that night were tears of joy, for she affirmed what we all want to believe: That people who strive to succeed, on sheer grit and talent, may indeed make it big in this world.

Biddy salutes them: They’re the Horatio Algers of this generation.

(Click on the link to access Terry Fator’s Jerry Lewis Telethon appearance)

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A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog,, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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