Regions within a country, or cultural communities (linguistic, ethnic, or religious) can also have their own celebrity systems, especially in linguistically or culturally distinct regions such as Quebec or Wales.
Celebrity refers to the fame and public attention accorded by the mass media to individuals or groups or, occasionally, animals, but is usually applied to the persons or groups of people (celebrity couples, families, etc.) themselves who receive such a status of fame and attention.
Celebrity status is often associated with wealth (commonly referred to as fame and fortune), while fame often provides opportunities to earn revenue.
As Paul Mc Donald states in The Star System: Hollywood's Production of Popular Identities, "in the first decade of the twentieth century, American film production companies withheld the names of film performers, despite requests from audiences, fearing that public recognition would drive performers to demand higher salaries." Public fascination went well beyond the on-screen exploits of movie stars and their private lives became headline news: for example, in Hollywood the marriages of Elizabeth Taylor and in Bollywood the affairs of Raj Kapoor in the 1950s.
The second half of the century saw television and popular music bring new forms of celebrity, such as the rock star and the pop group, epitomised by Elvis Presley and The Beatles, respectively.
In politics, certain politicians are recognizable to many people, usually the head of state and the Prime Minister.
Yet only heads of state who play a major role in international politics have a good chance of becoming famous outside their country's borders, since they are constantly featured in mass media. Presidential elections are followed closely all across the globe, making the elected candidate instantly world-famous as a result.
The movie industry spread around the globe in the first half of the 20th Century and with it the now familiar concept of the instantly recognizable faces of its superstars.
Yet, celebrity wasn't always tied to actors in films, especially when cinema was starting out as a medium.
In a pattern often repeated, what started out as an explosion of popularity (often referred to with the suffix 'mania') turned into a long-lasting fame: pilgrimages to Canterbury Cathedral where he was killed became instantly fashionable and the fascination with his life and death have inspired plays and films.
The cult of personality (particularly in the west) can be traced back to the Romantics in the 18th Century, whose livelihood as artists and poets depended on the currency of their reputation.
Certain politicians, however, are still famous today, even decades or centuries after they were in power.