AP Photo / Aaron Lambert
AP Photo / Aaron Lambert
At least Oprah Winfrey can take solace in still being alive to enjoy her millions.
But her fellow entertainers who are still in the pink have taken a backseat in the earnings department to the year's top-earning dead celebrity, a once tarnished star whose image has been burnished to a high, $275 million sheen since his death 16 months ago.
Just in time for Halloween, find out who's still raking in more dough than everyone (but Oprah) from beyond the grave...
Over the last year, Michael Jackson's estate brought in $275 million, enough to place him at the top of Forbes' annual list of the 13 top-earning celebs who are no longer with us.
The late King of Pop's earnings—based on record sales, This Is It box office and DVD receipts, licensing, merchandise and anything else Jackson-related you can think of—also add up to more than what was made by the following 12 fallen stars combined.
Elvis Presley, who died in 1977, came in at No. 2 with $60 million. That's pretty fantastic for the late, late King of Rock 'n' Roll, especially considering the total doesn't include a concert film featuring footage of his final days. It does include proceeds from records sold, the Cirque du Soleil show Viva Elvis, the dough taken in at Graceland and all other arenas where Elvis' image is utilized.
Third place goes to the creator of all things Middle-earth, J.R.R. Tolkien, who passed away in 1973, with $50 million, thanks to continued sales of Lord of the Rings books, movies and merchandise. The upcoming two-part adaptation of The Hobbit is sure to keep the British author high on this list for some time.
Charles Schulz, who as a newspaper cartoonist might have worked for peanuts once but then made Peanuts work for him, is No. 4 with $33 million. In fifth place is John Lennon, on the eve of what would have been his 70th birthday, with $17 million.
New to the list with $15 million is Swedish author Stieg Larsson, whose Millennium trilogy was immediately adapted for the screen in his native tongue and is already being remade by Hollywood, starting with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara.
More returns went to Dr. Seuss ($11 million) and Albert Einstein ($10 million), followed by late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who just died in July, with $8 million.
Composer Richard Rogers ($7 million), Jimi Hendrix and Steve McQueen (tied at $6 million) and Aaron Spelling ($5 million) round out Forbes' top 13.
Does this mean the James Dean/Marilyn Monroe-dying-young worship thing is dying out? For the second year in a row, neither gone-before-their-time superstar made it onto the list, despite the perennial fascination with both. Marilyn, for instance, is Vanity Fair's November cover girl and Michelle Williams channels the doomed movie star in My Week With Marilyn.