While things might be topsy-turvy in the financial markets above ground, it's still a bull market in the boneyard. The 13 famous names that make up our Top-Earning Dead Celebrities earned a combined $194 million over the last 12 months.
....Debuting on the list in third place is Australian actor Heath Ledger, most famous for his role as the Joker in The Dark Knight, the latest installment of the Batman movie franchise. At the time of his tragic overdose in January, the 28-year star seemed poised on the cusp of a lucrative film career.
Ledger had reportedly secured a deal for his role in The Dark Knight that included merchandising (think Joker action figures) and a percentage of film revenues. With The Dark Knight grossing $991 million in box office revenue worldwide, we estimate his earnings at $20 million.
Also debuting on our list is Paul Newman, who died in September at age 83. His "Newman's Own" line of salad dressings, organic popcorn and spaghetti sauces had sales of more $120 million last year. When he was alive, Newman donated all of his profits from the venture to charity, and his estate plans to continue doing so. Add in the residuals from a lifetime of high-profile movie roles, and we calculate Newman earned $5 million last year.