Forbes is out with its annual list of the top-earning dead celebrities, and while there are few surprises (once again, Elvis is the King of beyond-the-grave cash generators), a few things did strike me. First, the Beatles must have received a huge payoff when they settled their longstanding suit against Apple Computers earlier this year, big enough to propel John Lennon and George Harrison into the top five with $44 million and $22 million, respectively. (I don’t think the bulk of that came from the Cirque du Soleil show, do you?) Second, I didn’t realize that Albert Einstein gets a cut of all the Baby Einstein merch. Dude really was a genius.
Finally, Forbes notes the debut on the list of Steve McQueen (pictured), thanks to some post-mortem endorsement deals. The appeal to advertisers of a dead celeb, Forbes observes, is that they can’t get involved in embarrassing scandals. I think this is overly optimistic. If the technology exists to reanimate them for commercial appearances, it won’t be long before dead stars can be reanimated to participate in contemporary scandals. Just watch: it won’t be long before Britney Spears bears a child fathered by the cloned DNA of McQueen, whose estate will then sue for paternity, reasoning that even a deceased celebrity with a steady income is a better parent than Britney.
addCredit(“The Thomas Crown Affair: Everett Collection”)