He's bad, and he makes a lot of money at it: Michael Jackson is the world's highest-paid entertainer with total projected earnings of $97 million for 1987 and 1988, Forbes magazine says.
Jackson, who ranked ninth on last year's Forbes list of the 40 best-paid celebrities, moonwalked his way past Bill Cosby to No. 1 by raking in an estimated $60 million this year, the magazine said in its Oct. 3 edition.The 30-year-old entertainer made approximately $40 million from his recent worldwide tour, with the rest from sales of his album "Bad," his autobiography, "Moonwalk," Pepsi endorsements and other music publishing, the magazine said.
Cosby, who had a 1986-87 income of $84 million, was No. 2 on the current list with $92 million in earnings for 1987 and 1988, Forbes says.
The youngest entertainer on the list was 22-year-old heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, whose earnings skyrocketed from $10 million in 1987 to approximately $45 million this year, the highest 1988 income behind Jackson's, the magazine estimates.
Two other boxers, Sugar Ray Leonard and Michael Spinks, made the list, with $27 million and $17 million, respectively, in earnings for the two-year period.
In contrast, the income of America's top-grossing executive, Charles Lazarus of Toys 'R' Us Inc., averaged $31.5 million a year for 1986 and 1987, the most recent two-year period for which executive pay records are available. Lazarus made $60 million, including about $56 million in one-time stock gains, in 1987.
After Jackson and Cosby, the rest of Forbes' top 10 are: filmmaker Steven Spielberg, $64 million; actor Sylvester Stallone, $63 million; comedian Eddie Murphy, $62 million; Peanuts cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, $62 million; rock star Bruce Springsteen, $61 million; Tyson; singer-actress Madonna, $46 million; and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, $43 million.
The top 10 averaged at least $21 million for each of the last two years, Forbes said. Lazarus was the only business executive to exceed that average. Chrysler Corp.'s Lee Iaccoca came close with an average annual income for 1986 and 1987 of $19 million.
Thirty other entertainers were included on the list, with Frank Sinatra pulling in the rear with $16 million, the minimum two-year income needed to qualify for this year's list.
In addition to Madonna, the list contains four other women: Oprah Winfrey, $37 million; Whitney Houston, $30 million; Tina Turner, $25 million; and Jane Fonda, $23 million.
The magazine also noted that 25 percent of those on the list are black.
Forbes says the list knows no international borders and shows an evolving culture, with 17 of the top 40 in the music business.
"No longer are steel mills or auto factories or oil wells the principal sources of great wealth," it says. "In the postindustrial society, the once despised entertainment industry has usurped that role."
Forbes also notes that in death, perhaps more so than in life, entertainers continue to fill pocketbooks as well as hearts.
Elvis Presley's estate, for example, will earn approximately $15 million this year, including $11 million from Graceland Mansion, the home Presley purchased in 1957 for $100,000 that now is a museum honoring the entertainer.
Other dead entertainers whose estates are making in excess of $1 million annually are James Bond writer Ian Fleming, $7.5 million; ex-Beattle John Lennon, $5 million; guitarist Jimi Hendrix, $4 million; poet T.S. Eliot, $2.5 million; and actor James Dean, $1.2 million.