Why do we care so much about celebrities? Who decides who gets to be a star? Do celebrities deserve the outsized attention they receive? Sharon Marcus challenges everything you thought you knew about our obsession with fame. Drawing on scrapbooks, diaries, and vintage fan mail, she traces celebrity culture back to its nineteenth-century roots, when people the world over found themselves captivated by celebrity chefs, bad-boy poets, and actors such as the "divine" Sarah Bernhardt, as famous in her day as the Beatles in theirs. The Drama of Celebrity reveals how journalists, the public, and celebrities themselves all compete to shape the stories we tell about celebrities and fans, resulting in a high-stakes drama as endless as it is unpredictable.