The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s income ballooned to $60 million, up $5 million from last year, thanks to Graceland admissions and the Elvis Presley Cirque du Soleil spectacular launched in Las Vegas earlier this year. His portfolio of more than 200 licensing and merchandise deals got a nice boost from the late star’s 75th birthday celebration. Among the commemorative events: Graceland exhibits, touring tribute concerts and an Elvis-themed cruise to the Bahamas.
Died: Sept. 2, 1973
Cause: Bleeding ulcer
The last Lord of the Rings movie hit theaters eight years ago, but Tolkien is still a hot topic in Hollywood. A two-movie adaptation of his book The Hobbit is currently in preproduction in New Zealand. All that Hollywood attention has helped move his books. According to Nielsen, Tolkien sold just shy of 500,000 copies in the last year.
No. 4 Charles Schulz
Died: Feb 12, 2000
Cause: Colon cancer
The Peanuts brand changed ownership again this year, with Iconix purchasing the cartoon and its characters for $175 million to form Peanuts Worldwide, LLC. With the acquisition, Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates will maintain a 20% stake in the new company. The late Schulz continues to earn from his comic strip, which appears in 2,200 newspapers across 75 countries.
No. 5 John Lennon
Died: Dec. 8, 1980
It’s been nearly 30 years since The Beatles’ John Lennon was killed in New York City. In what would have been his 70th year, EMI has launched the “Gimme Some Truth” campaign, re-releasing much of Lennon’s catalog, resulting in several Top 10 chart appearances. His estate still earns from the “Beatles Rock Band” videogame and licensing deals with the likes of Cisco and Mont Blanc.
No. 6 Stieg Larsson
Died: Nov. 9, 2004
Cause: Heart attack
Larsson died before The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was published, so he didn’t live to see the incredible success of his series of three books, known as The Millennium Trilogy. (A fourth book has reportedly been found.) More than 40 million copies of the books have been sold in 44 languages, and Sony is producing American films based on the books. They will star Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist.
No. 7 Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel)
Died: Sept. 24, 1991
Cause: Natural causes
With his instantly recognizable rhyming scheme, Dr. Seuss is the best-selling children’s author in history. Horton, the Grinch and his other iconic characters are now reaching audiences through iPhone apps and an attraction at Orlando’s Universal Studios theme park. According to Nielsen, Seuss’ titles are on pace to sell 3 million copies this year.