Elvis regains crown as top-earning dead celebrity

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NEW YORK, Oct 31 (Reuters) Just because you are dead, it does not mean you can't stage a comeback.

Web site Forbes.com (www.forbes.com) said yesterday that Elvis Presley regained the top spot on its list of the highest-earning dead celebrities, ousting Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain who had beaten him last year.

Elvis shimmied his way back atop the seventh annual list of 13 top-earning legends that he had ruled since its inception, with estimated earnings of about 49 million dollars in the year ending this month.

The rise from 42 million dollars last year comes after CKX Entertainment, which bought part of his estate from daughter Lisa Marie Presley, embarked on a mission to renew interest in the late singer and actor.

Forbes.com said in a statement that the top 13 -- who generated massive amounts of merchandising revenue -- grossed a combined 232 million dollars in the year.

In second place came Beatle John Lennon, who was murdered in New York in 1980 at the age of 40. He earned 44 million dollars while the creator of Peanuts comic strip, Charles M. Schulz, took the third slot with earnings of 35 million dollars.

Cobain was one of four who fell off this year's ranking. He debuted on the list in first place last year after his widow, Courtney Love, sold part of his song catalog for a reported 50 million dollars.

Rounding out the top five on this year's list were George Harrison from the Beatles, who died in 2001, with 22 million dollars, and German-born physicist Albert Einstein with 18 million dollars.

Einstein has become a key trademark in child education due to the Disney-owned Baby Einstein brand of videos and toys.

The Beatles did well in the latest list in the wake of settling two long-standing legal disputes with the settlements believed to have exceeded 100 million dollars.

Newcomers in the list were actor Steve McQueen and the ''Godfather of Soul'' James Brown who died late last year. Rapper Tupac Shakur regained a slot on the list as did James Dean.

Rounding out the top 13 were pop artist Andy Warhol, Theodor Geisel, better known as children's author Dr. Seuss, silver screen legend Marilyn Monroe and reggae superstar Bob Marley.

The other three bumped off this year's list were rhythm&blues pioneer Ray Charles, author J R R Tolkien and country singer Johnny Cash.

Reuters BJR VP0540

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