Fan mail is mail sent to a public figure, especially a celebrity, by their admirers or "fans". In return for support and admiration, celebrities may send an autographed poster or photo, accompanied by a reply letter, usually thanking their fans for their encouragement and gifts they received, saying how much it means and inspires them.
Fan mail may be in the form of letters, cards, artworks, gifts, and so on; depending on the recipient, it may also be possible to send fan mail via email. People send fan mail to athletes, actors, artists, writers, singers, bands, and coaches of teams. Responses can take a great deal of time to come, or never come at all.
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Since a major celebrity may receive thousands of pieces of fan mail every day, it is usually impossible for him/her to reply to or read them all; his/her managers often have the duty of canvassing the incoming mail. Normally fan mail should be sent to the office of the celebrity's management. Some celebrities may also charge a small fee for a signed photo.
Many celebrities, such as David Letterman, have incorporated answering such mail as part of their routine. This gimmick has also been used with fictional characters; special episodes of Beavis and Butt-head featured mail sent to the two, and the Homestar Runner website regularly features E-mails sent to and answered by the cartoon's main antagonist, Strong Bad. Public reading and answering of fan mail was a common recurring element of the cult television program Mystery Science Theater 3000. TLC's third studio album was named FanMail, and was a tribute to fans, with the names of many fans that had sent them fan mail over the years included in the album's insert.