Beware of YouTube Cinderella Stories

It hasn't always been a smooth road for Susan Boyle and other instant viral video stars. Let's hope the homeless man with the golden voice gets the rich ride he deserves

By Jere Hester
|  Thursday, Jan 6, 2011  |  Updated 6:47 PM PDT
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The man who was once begging for money on the streets of <a title=Columbus, Ohio is now the man with "golden radio voice." We talk to overnight success story Ted Williams." />

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The man who was once begging for money on the streets of Columbus, Ohio is now the man with "golden radio voice." We talk to overnight success story Ted Williams.

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Ted Williams "Overwhelmed" By Overnight Success

Ted Williams, "the man with the golden voice," chats about all the offers that he's been presented with since an online video of him went viral.
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The job offers for Ted Williams, the homeless Ohio man with the golden voice, reportedly are rolling in nearly as fast the hits on the Columbus Dispatch video that displayed both his ragged appearance and his pitch-perfect announcer’s baritone.

The NFL, Kraft, the Cleveland Cavaliers and various broadcast stations are said to be vying for his talents, observed by millions on YouTube and elsewhere in the media. He's gotten a makeover, made a triumphant appearance on the "Today" show Thursday, and was reunited with his mom.

His comeback has the makings of feel-good story. But it would be a shame if the late-in-life Cinderella yarn-in-progress ends up as another cautionary tale.

Fame, thanks to the Internet, can be more instant than ever these days, which also means it’s more fickle. Dowdy Scottish songbird Susan Boyle became an international star after her appearance on “Britain’s Got Talent” hit the Internet, and is still popular nearly two years later. But she’s reportedly suffered some meltdowns along the way.

Antoine Dodson, whose news account of interrupting a sex attack on his sister last summer was auto-tuned into a novelty hit/video known as “Bed Intruder Song,” seems to be hanging onto the crumbs of his unlikely celebrity. He performed a Christmas version of his song on the “Lopez Tonight” last month, and can be seen in a promo for the new season of Comedy Central’s “Tosh.0,” where viral videos and their stars get mocked. “Blessings come in disguise,” Dodson told The Associated Press in September. “This is a golden opportunity for us. I’m gonna take it and run with it.”

Let’s hope for Williams’ sake that the recovering addict can take advantage of his opportunities – and that he’s not used and discarded by those looking for their own quick publicity boost. A haircut and some job offers alone aren't going to make him a success – he's going to need folks to stick by him when he becomes yesterday's news.

The 53-year-old man with the golden voice deserves a chance to live out his middle age and golden years in dignity, preferably with a job where he gets to put his talents to use. It would be a shame for that wonderful voice to once again fade away.

 

 

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.

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