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Michael Jackson Tops Forbes' List of Dead Celebrity Earners

Michael Jackson
Dave Hogan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

'Dragon Tattoo' author Stieg Larsson, J.R.R. Tolkien on list that has Jimi Hendrix, Steve McQueen tied for last place.

Michael Jackson earned more in the past year than any living celebrity except Oprah Winfrey.

The King of Pop, who died in June 2009, made an astonishing $275 million in the past 12 months, putting him -- by a wide margin -- atop the Forbes list of top-earning dead celebrities.

Jackson's take was in no small part because of the more than $250 million worldwide box-office haul of the Sony film This Is it.

Second on the list released Monday is Elvis Presley, who earned $60 million.

Third is J.R.R. Tolkien, who sold a combined 500,000 copies of his The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit books in the past year alone, even though he died 37 years ago.

"Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz is fourth, having earned $33 million, and John Lennon is fifth at $17 million.

Perhaps the most surprising "celebrity" to crack the top 10 is Stieg Larsson, who wrote The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo but died of a heart attack at age 50 before it was published. The Sony movie starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara is due late next year. Larsson earned $15 million in the past year.

The Forbes list, at Forbes.com, includes 13 names. Tying for the last spots with $6 million apiece are Jimi Hendrix, Steve McQueen and Aaron Spelling.