John Kirwan All Black was pretty well known. Then he started doing TV ads and became really famous.
"Being on TV ... takes you to another level," he said in his 1992 autobiography. "After I'd done an advert, people would come up to me and say 'I saw you on TV' not 'I know you, you're a rugby player'."
American writer Gore Vidal used to advise ambitious young men they should never miss an opportunity to have sex or appear on television. Perhaps he worked on the theory that the latter increased your chances of the former.
If so, he was probably right since television's ability to transform unremarkable individuals into celebrities is increasingly more evident. The print media's eagerness to assist in this process may well bemuse cultural historians in the not too distant future.
As a society we seem increasingly inclined to the view that if you're not on TV, you're not part of the conversation. Which brings us to John Campbell.
As one of the dying breed who gets the bulk of their information, enlightenment and entertainment from the printed word, I'm intrigued by the furore over the prospect of Campbell's employer deciding to dispense with his services.
While there appear to be valid commercial considerations at play - according to media watcher Regan Cunliffe, Campbell's audience has dropped from 382,000 to 191,000 in the past 18 months, although there's been a bit of a rebound since he was designated a cultural treasure/endangered species - a conspiracy theory is abroad: the Government wants him gone.
Each week Herald columnist Dr Bryce Edwards trawls the blogosphere so we don't have to. It's a dirty job but someone has to do it. This week he sampled various commentators who suspect or believe the anti-Campbell campaign is about silencing "a thorn in the side of the current Government". Or, to put it rather more hysterically, a "diabolically motivated mash-up of trash TV and right-wing sabotage".
The supporting evidence is that, first, MediaWorks boss Mark Weldon, who used to run the New Zealand Stock Exchange, has a relationship with John Key. The precise nature and extent of that relationship hasn't been spelled out.
Then there's what Edwards describes as "the most damning evidence of National's glee": a Facebook post, since withdrawn, by National MP Todd Barclay declaring that only Labour MPs were "scrambling to save" Campbell Live.
There are several reasons for thinking Barclay's post doesn't prove anything beyond that he's got some growing up to do:
Before becoming an MP at the last election he was a tobacco lobbyist.
If you're part of a conspiracy to silence a fearless champion of the truth, you're probably not going to chortle about it on Facebook.
And if little Toddy is part of said conspiracy, it must be a bloody big one so why isn't there more evidence of it?
In his gauche way, Barclay has a point: there is an ideological dimension to this. If Campbell was studiously apolitical or unapologetically conservative, would he be getting the same level of support from the same people?
In a wider sense, this is a continuation of the long-running debate between those who see the media as the fourth estate, an unofficial institution with a responsibility to "keep the bastards honest", and those who see it as just another commercial enterprise. In fact it's both, hence the constant tension between journalistic and commercial imperatives.
Former Herald editor, academic and media researcher Gavin Ellis argues that "if broadcasters won't voluntarily meet civic responsibility then maybe we need to look at some form of regulation to require them to provide good, competent, professional news and current affairs".
But what if the public prefers the escapist dross on another channel: wouldn't that amount to the Government forcing a private company to persist with loss-making programming? How would the directors square that with their responsibility to their shareholders?
Others like broadcaster-turned-media consultant Brian Edwards advocate the return of a public - ie, taxpayer-funded - broadcaster although, if recent British and Australian experience is anything to go by, public broadcasters are invariably accused of left-wing bias and subjected to political interference.
The moral of the story would seem to be that, whichever system you adopt, the Government will be part of the problem and part of the solution.