Elvis tops list of Top-Earning Dead Celebrities

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Rock ‘n’ roll legend Elvis Presley (news), dead for more than 26 years, on Friday led the Forbes.com list of top-earning deceased celebrities for the third year in a row, to the tune of $40 million for the year ending September 2003.

With perennial megahits like “Don’t be Cruel,” “Jailhouse Rock,” and “All Shook Up,” his “30 #1 hits” CD has sold 9 million copies since being released in 2002, and a follow-up CD, “Elvis: 2nd to None,” is in the top 10 on Billboard’s album chart after coming out two weeks ago.

Runner-up on the list was Peanuts cartoon creator Charles Schulz, earning $32 million. Third at $22 million was writer J.R.R. Tolkien, whose “Lord of the Rings” books have been transformed on screen into a lucrative movie franchise.

Former Beatles John Lennon (news) and George Harrison (news) earned $19 million and $16 million, respectively, putting them fourth and fifth on the list, based on estate earnings.

New to the list this year were Broadway musical composers Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, with $7 million, as well as song writers Cole Porter and Irving Berlin, and Dr. Robert Atkins – whose popular books and products promoting high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets are all the rage again – who all earned about $6 million each.

Ah, to be dead and rich! Elvis, this peanut butter and banana sandwich is for you. (I’ll pop some pills later too!)