Frank Wills started his Friday night graveyard shift uneventfully. Working as a security guard at an office building, the 24-year-old would soon find something that would launch the biggest political scandal of the century and catapult Frank into overnight fame.
The year was 1972 and Frank was working at an office complex named Watergate in Washington DC. After noticing a door had masking tape stuck to it that prevented it from latching, Frank called the DC police around 2am. The police arrived and eventually caught 5 burglars who had broken into the Democratic National Committee headquarters with the aim of wire-tapping their office. As we know, the break-in turned out to be part of Richard Nixon’s illegal scheming to get re-elected later that year. Once these activities came to light a couple years later, Nixon resigned as president and many of his cronies went to prison.
But Watergate started it all, and it’s unlikely that the government would have been brought down had the burglary not been foiled, which turned security guard Frank Wills into a sudden, accidental hero.
Frank, who was earning minimum wage as a guard, tried to capitalize on his new-found fame, even getting an agent to help him book gigs. For a little while, Frank was able to get a few interviews and talk show appearances for a few hundred dollars a pop, but those dried up quickly. He eventually got fired from his job, in part because he missed work every time he found an interview to do. From there, things went downhill, as he struggled to find another full-time job and as his role in Watergate soon faded from people’s minds. Though he kept trying, he never found a way to make his 15 minutes of fame work for him, and for the remainder of his life never made more than a marginal living.