Top dead celebs gross $232m in 2006

Forbes' seventh annual list reveals Elvis, Marilyn and Warhol are still raking in the merchandising dollars.
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You don't have to be dead to be a success, but sometimes it does help - ably illustrated by Forbes' seventh annual list of the top-earning dead celebrities in the last 12 months; they grossed a combined $232m.

All the members of this year's club are lynchpins of very profitable merchandising empires, which are still growing, says Forbes.

Elvis tops the listing, with his estate generating $49m in the past year. CKX Entertainment announced a huge overhaul of Graceland this summer to tie-in with the 30th anniversary of his death. Among the changes are a new hotel convention center, a multimedia museum and a visitors' centre.

Revenues for Graceland were up by 15 per cent this year to $35m - and this doesn't include royalties generated from Elvis music, DVDs and licensing deals like the one struck with Cirque de Soleil for an Elvis-themed review in Las Vegas.

John Lennon is at number two, with earnings estimated at $44m, Peanuts creator Charles Schultz was at number three and George Harrison was number four, with earnings estimated at $22m.

Newcomers to the Forbes list include Steve McQueen ($6m) and James Brown ($5m), while rapper Tupac Shakur rejoined the list with $9 million. Over a decade after his unsolved 1996 murder in a drive-by shooting, Tupac remains a hot commercial property, with developments underway said to include a video game, biopic and a Broadway show.


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