Responding to the apparently ubiquitous interest in contemporary fame, the last ten years has seen an expansion of academic work on stardom/celebrity, whether in film, media and cultural studies or beyond. Reflecting contemporary popular discourse, the emphasis here has often been on change: the notion that modern celebrity represents a qualitative break with the past. But what has arguably been lacking is a sense of dialogue or debate about the implications of this ‘shift’ for (now long-standing) theoretical/methodological approaches in the field. In this article, I bring aspects of these spheres together – the history of academic discourse on celebrity and the province of modern fame – in order to stimulate questions about their present and future relationship. In particular, I return to the seminal work of Richard Dyer (1979; 1986) as a form of dialogue between these spheres, placing his intervention within the history of work on stardom/ celebrity, and evaluating its relationship with contemporary celebrity culture.