Star Struck
An Encyclopedia of Celebrity Culture
by Sam G. Riley, Editor
December 2009, 358pp, 7 x 10
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-0-313-35812-8
$96, £74, 84€, A132
Please contact your preferred distributor for pricing.
eBook Available: 978-0-313-35813-5
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Whereas in former times, “the business of America was business,” one might argue that today “the business of America is entertainment.” Even the president of the United States has an aura of celebrity that morphed many voters into rabid fans attracted to his smile, his eloquence, and his photogenic family. But just what is that indefinable quality that vaults an individual to celebrity status?

This balanced examination looks at America's pervasive celebrity culture, concentrating on the period from 1950 to the present day.

Star Struck: An Encyclopedia of Celebrity Culture is neither a stern critic nor an apologist for celebrity infatuation, a phenomenon that sometimes supplants more weighty matters yet constitutes one of our nation’s biggest exports. This encyclopedia covers American celebrity culture from 1950 to 2008, examining its various aspects—and its impact—through 86 entries by 30 expert contributors.

Demonstrating that all celebrities are famous, but not all famous people are celebrities, the book cuts across the various entertainment medias and their legions of individual “stars.” It looks at sports celebrities and examines the role of celebrity in more serious pursuits and institutions such as the news media, corporations, politics, the arts, medicine, and the law. Also included are entries devoted to such topics as paranoia and celebrity, one-name celebrities, celebrity nicknames, family unit celebrity, sidekick celebrities, and even criminal celebrities.


  • 86 entries by 30 contributors are alphabetically organized by topic
  • A timeline section covers events connected with the development of our celebrity culture and will be especially useful to younger readers who have not lived through the entire period covered by the book
  • An extensive bibliography of works dealing with celebrity is provided to encourage further reading and examination of the topic
Sam G. Riley has been professor of communication at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, VA, since 1981. He has published ten books on the history of magazine publishing, three about newspaper columnists and their work, two about African Americans who have had successful careers in the mainstream U.S. media, and one trade paperback. He writes a blog,, devoted to one-shot and temporary celebrities and their importance as a source of media material.


"This offers a much more thoughtful approach to celebrity than other pop culture works aimed at high school students and undergraduates. Recommended for high school, public, and undergraduate academic collections supporting curricula or interests in popular culture."—Library Journal, March 15, 2010

"This would be a good purchase for public libraries in particular but would also be of use in an academic library."—Booklist, May 15, 2010
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