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The Highest Paid Dead Movie Stars

SteveerinoHow are celebrities different than you and me? Talent used to have something to do with it, but in this age when everyone can be an instant but temporary celebrity, we have to admit there’s another essential component: money. Not only do celebrities have more money than you and me, they don’t even have to be alive to keep earning it.

So notes Forbes magazine in the one article it publishes all year that I read, the annual list of the Top Earning Dead Celebrities. Musicians tend to dominate the list, largely because the income from music sales is the easiest to quantify. But there is a fair share of classic actors on the list, too, including:

#1 – Elvis. A remodeled Graceland insures that just because you’ve been there in the past doesn’t mean that you don’t have to go again. (I was there in 1987 and wasn’t too impressed, but hey, just because the King is dead doesn’t mean he can’t remodel!)

#9 – Marilyn Monroe. A recently settled lawsuit ensures that La Monroe’s image can continue to be widely exploited for years to come without always having to get the permission of her estate.

#10 – Steve McQueen. Classics never go old, but they may vacillate in the public eye, and the King of Cool is back in favor again with a prominent mention in GQ magazine (which named him one of the world’s most stylish men); recognition from the Motorcycle Industry Association as the all-time top biker; and a fan paying $2.3 million at auction for one of his cars. Oh, and his movies do pretty well on DVD.

#13 – James Dean. Dying young is just so good for the image, and in death this rebel has found a cause in selling coffee, cars and jeans. Maybe if he’d known this is how he was going to be remembered he would have driven slower.

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