Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Oh, the Money that Dead Celebrities Make!

What do the King of rock 'n roll and the creator of the world's most lovable loser have in common with two ex-Beatles?

Elvis Presley, Charles Shultz, John Lennon, and George Harrison all made the most recent list of the world's highest paid dead celebrities, as compiled annually by Forbes magazine.

Also making the list this year were Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Bob Marley, Marlon Brando, Andy Warhol, and 43-year-dead Marilyn Monroe.

Forbes even went on a limb to calculate the potential earnings of William Shakespeare, if only he hadn't been so careless to allow his copyrights to slip. Bill the Bard would have earned $15 million dollars last year in royalties for the wherefores in his plays and poetry — a mere pittance to The King's $45 million for his hip-gyrating antics.

Of course none of these people actually did any work last year. They were too busy decomposing. The wealth was generated on behalf of the heirs to their estates — who work vigorously to guarantee that no dead man's work be un-honored, and no royalty be unpaid.

In my opinion, the guy who has lost the most is King James, of KJV fame. If today's copyright standards had been in place in the 17th Century, James would now be famous as the guy who held the copyright on the Lord's Prayer and on John 3:16. Imagine what his heirs could have done with the royalties from every mention of the famous salvation passage on national TV by a hippie with clown hair in the end zone of a playoff game. Instead, the monarch is noted as the one who made "hallowed" a three-syllable word.

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