Earning power for celebs doesn't hit a dead end


As if life weren't tough enough, here's a news flash to grind you down a little further: The dead make more money than you do.

This comes to us courtesy of the July Forbes magazine, in an article tastefully titled "Top-Earning Dead Celebs."

No. 1 on the Forbes "Dead, Buried And Still Rolling in It" list is Elvis Presley.

The King, as everyone knows, has been pushing up daisies for nearly three decades.

But according to the magazine, he still made $52 million last year - or at least his estate did, from song rights, Graceland tours and all the rest.

Think about that: $52 mil!

And he's dead!

Here I didn't even take a sick day last year, and I made nowhere close to that.

No, I made about what Elvis tipped the Sarah Lee guy when he backed the delivery truck up to the Graceland pantry.

Second among the dead-guy earners on the Forbes list is Kurt Cobain, tortured ex-lead singer of the grunge-rock band Nirvana.

Despite being confined to a small urn somewhere in Seattle - remember, he was cremated, not buried - Cobain somehow had the business acumen to pull in $50 mil in royalty income in 2005.

And according to the magazine, most of it goes to his widow, crazy Courtney Love, and their child, which means most of it probably goes to psychiatrist bills.

Albert Einstein checks in as the third-highest dead-celeb earner at 20 mil.

Forbes says his estate, controlled by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, makes $5 million in a typical year.

It "also enjoys royalties from Disney's hit Baby Einstein line of education videos and toys, which generated $400 million in sales last year."

I don't know what a list like the Top-Earning Dead Celebs is supposed to accomplish, except make the Average Joe and Average Jane bang their heads against the wall.

Look, I feel bad enough when Parade magazine does its annual What We Earn issue and there's some, I don't know, wicker-basket-maker in Boulder, Colo., making $500,000 a year.

Or you come across the smiling picture of someone with the occupation "Arranges Salads For Photo Shoots" and the person is pulling down a quarter-mil annually.

That alone will bring you down.

But being out-earned by the dead?

That's a new low.

I don't know how you come back from something like that.

Not to get too personal with this, but let's look at my wage-earning situation for a moment as compared to, say, Albert Einstein's.

Me, I got deadlines, I got editors yelling at me, I got readers e-mailing and telling me I'm nuts.

I got days when I stare at the computer screen and my mind is a vast, puffy expanse of nothingness.

In short, I got major stress everywhere you look.

On the other hand, what's Albert Einstein got?

He was cremated, too, his ashes supposedly scattered near a river in New Jersey.

So wherever he is, it's probably peaceful and quiet.

Nobody's bothering him. There's no one yammering in his ear: "Albert, do this!" or "Albert, do that!"

In fact, he doesn't even have to lift a finger and it's still: "Ka-ching! Ka-ching! Albert, this is your accountant! You made another $20 mil last year, pal!"

Where's the fairness in that?

By the way, the only woman to crack the Top-Earning Dead Celebs list is Marilyn Monroe.

Despite being dead since 1962, the one-time sultry actress and pinup queen earned $8 million last year in image rights, Forbes said.

Still, $8 mil, that's a far cry from what the King and Kurt Cobain and Albert Einstein made.

It's even less than what weirdo pop-artist Andy Warhol made, which was $16 million.

Maybe Marilyn Monroe should come back from the dead and file a sex-discrimination suit.

Or maybe she's just slacking off on purpose.

Maybe she's lying there in her grave at Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles thinking: "By God, I deserve to rest."

At least most of us could relate to that.


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