Elvis ranked top-earning dead celebrity

NEW YORK Wed Oct 29, 2008 9:14am EDT

A live band backs up a virtual Elvis during a memorial concert of Elvis footage in Memphis, Tennessee, August 16, 2007. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

A live band backs up a virtual Elvis during a memorial concert of Elvis footage in Memphis, Tennessee, August 16, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Elvis Presley may have left the building several decades ago, but his earning power is far from diminished with Forbes.com ranking him the top-earning dead celebrity for the second year in a row.

Presley pulled in $52 million in the past year, helped by increased visitors to his Graceland estate to commemorate the 30th anniversary of his death and new ventures like the Elvis Sirius Satellite Radio show, according to the web site.

"While things might be topsy-turvy in the financial markets above ground, it's still a bull market in the boneyard," Forbes.com said.

Presley earned more between October 2007 and October 2008 than some of the music industry's biggest living pop stars like Justin Timberlake ($44 million) and Madonna ($40 million), Forbes.com said.

Coming in at No. 2 with $33 million in earnings was cartoonist Charles Schulz, who died in 2000 and is best known for his "Peanuts" comic strip, while Australian actor Heath Ledger nabbed third spot.

Ledger, 28, died from an accidental prescription drug overdose in January and his last film role was as the Joker in "The Dark Knight."

"With the 'The Dark Knight' grossing $991 million in box office revenue worldwide, we estimate his earnings at $20 million," the web site said.

Forbes.com said it spoke to experts and sources inside the dead celebrities' estates and researched gross earnings, before taxes, management fees and other costs, from the period of October 2007 to October 2008 to come up with the rankings.

German-born physicist Albert Einstein comes in at No. 4 with $18 million in earnings, mainly from Baby Einstein, the majority Disney owned videos and toys for children, while TV producer Aaron Spelling -- whose shows include "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Charlie's Angels" -- was ranked No. 5 with $15 million in earnings.

The full list can be found at www.forbes.com.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Patricia Reaney)

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