They're famous across the globe. Their work is treasured by millions. And they're rolling in cash--they just can't spend any of it. The 13 members of Forbes annual Highest-Earning Dead Celebrities list brought in a collective $186 million in the last year. They, or more accurately, their estates, earned that money by selling their work -both written and recorded- or just the rights to use their likenesses on T-shirts, posters or in advertisements. Sometimes their life stories themselves are worth something: Musician Ray Charles makes the list for the first time this year, in part because of income related to his 2004 biopic. Johnny Cash, who also makes his first appearance this year, has his own movie out in November.
Elvis tops the list with $45 million earnings in 2005.
The Lucky 13
1. Elvis Presley - $45 million
2. Charles M. Schulz - $35 million
3. John Lennon - 22 million
4. Andy Warhol - 16 million
5. Theodore "Dr. Seuss" Geisel - 10 million
6. Marlon Brando - 9 million
7. Marilyn Monroe - 8 million
8. J.R.R. Tolkien - 8 million
9. George Harrison - 7 million
10. Johnny Cash - 7 million
11. Irving Berlin - 7 million
12. Bob Marley - 6 million
13. Ray Charles - 6 million
How can you possibly put a value on the Elvis Presley legacy? Ask Robert Sillerman, whose CKX shelled out $100 million in cash and stock for an 85% interest in the icon's income stream in February. Sillerman promptly shook things up by cranking out new DVD and television releases featuring the King. A two-hour documentary broadcast on Viacom's CBS Network generated $5.5 million alone. And while some fans fretted that outside management might mar the appeal of Graceland, revenue is up at the Memphis shrine. Next on the agenda: plans for a Las Vegas attraction, though details - like what, when and where - have yet to be announced.
Source: Forbes / Updated: Oct 27, 2005