She’s rich. She’s talented. She’s beautiful. And now Angelina Jolie is the most powerful celebrity in the world.
Thanks to the release of several blockbuster movies and an endless sea of media buzz, Jolie has dethroned Oprah Winfrey to top this year’s Celebrity 100 list, Forbes’ annual ranking of the world’s ultra famous.
Jolie raked in $27 million in the past 12 months thanks to a movie schedule that included “Kung Fu Panda,” “Wanted” and the not-yet-released spy thriller “Salt.” Even more impressive: The publicity she garnered following the birth of her twins, as well as the consistent headlines she grabs for her philanthropic efforts and her relationship with actor Brad Pitt, who ranks No. 9 on the list.
Winfrey drops to No. 2 on the list. The media maven has pocketed $275 million in the last year, making her the list’s top earner. Though viewership for her daily chat fest, “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” continues to erode, her earnings remain unchanged from a year ago. In addition to Winfrey’s monthly magazine, she has a three-year, $55 million deal with XM Satellite Radio. Early next year, the self-made billionaire will roll out the lifestyle-themed Oprah Winfrey Network in partnership with Discovery Communications.
In a year filled with humbling bank failures and violent stock market swings, the earning power of the 2009 Celebrity 100 remained remarkably resilient. The cumulative earnings of the 2009 list totaled $4.1 billion, up slightly from last year’s $4 billion haul.
The primary reason celebrities are still making big money: Many stars are locked into long-term performance and endorsement contracts. If the economy does not improve, expect the downturn to catch up to the A-list next year.
The Celebrity 100, which includes film and television actors, models, chefs, athletes, authors, and musicians, is a measure of entertainment-related earnings and media visibility (exposure in print, television, radio and online). The earnings estimates consist of pre-tax income between June 2008 and June 2009. Management, agent, and attorney fees are not deducted.
Rounding out the top five on the list are pop icon Madonna ($110 million), singer Beyonce Knowles ($87 million), and golfer Tiger Woods ($110 million).
The Material Girl banked the majority of her millions on the road. Her “Hard Candy” tour rounded out 2008 as the year’s top-grossing international tour, raking in $280 million across 17 countries.
Knowles’ haul came from album sales, tour performances, films, a fashion collection, and a lengthy list of endorsement deals.
Woods’ pile of cash came mostly from endorsements, appearance fees, and a lucrative gig designing golf courses. He spent most of the year sidelined with a knee injury.
Among the newcomers on this year’s list: “Twilight” scribe Stephanie Meyer (No. 26) and country crooner Taylor Swift (No. 69). Meyer, who sold 29 million books and created a vampire frenzy, earned $50 million during the year-long period. Swift was the top-selling U.S. artist of 2008, banking $18 million off of a tour, album sales and endorsement deals.
Barack Obama joins the list as the first sitting head of state to land on the Celebrity 100. The President’s historic election last year helped him sell millions of books. He debuts on this year’s list at No. 49, with book earnings of $2.5 million for the 12-month period.
To make room for the new entries to the list, 37 bold-faced stars fell off. Among them: J.K. Rowling and Johnny Depp. Rowling lacked a new “Harry Potter” book, while Depp failed to release or collect on an installment of “Pirates of the Caribbean.”