Elvis Remains King of Royalties

Posted on November 1, 2005 by

Elvis may have left the building 28 years ago, but he?s still The King when it comes to bringing in the money, reports Billboard.

According to Forbes magazine?s annual list of Top-Earning Dead Celebrities, Elvis Presley was top earner for the fifth straight year.

His estate generated $45 million in royalties between October 2004 and October 2005.

“Peanuts” cartoonist Charles Schulz landed in his usual No. 2 spot, with $35 million.

Presley, who died in 1977, is enjoying enduring popularity through his music, but William Shakespeare is unbeatable when it comes to longevity.

The magazine calculated what the Bard?s heirs might take in each year if he were still under copyright, 400 years after his death, and estimated it at $15 million. Last year alone saw over 5,000 performances of his plays and hundreds of thousands of books sold.

This would put Shakespeare behind former Beatle John Lennon (No. 3 with $22 million) and artist Andy Warhol (No. 4 with $16 million) and ahead of actors Marlon Brando ($9 million) and Marilyn Monroe ($8 million).

Hollywood made its impact known on this year?s list, with Johnny Cash ($7 million) and Ray Charles ($6 million) breaking into the top rankings as the release or planned release of film biographies boosted their royalty statements.

Presley and the 12 other members of the list brought in a collective $186 million in the last year.

The fifth annual ranking, edited by Forbes.com Media Editor Peter Kafka, assesses the earning power of deceased celebrities, including musicians, actors, authors, songwriters and composers.

Top-earning dead celebrities, according to Forbes (figures are in millions of dollars):
1. Elvis Presley $45
2. Charles Schulz $35
3. John Lennon $22
4. Andy Warhol $16
5. Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel $10
6. Marlon Brando $9
7. Marilyn Monroe $8
8. J.R.R. Tolkien $8
9. George Harrison $7
10. Johnny Cash $7
11. Irving Berlin $7
12. Bob Marley $6
13. Ray Charles $6

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