LOS ANGELES -- Pants-less pop stars, late-night warriors and sexy vampires spiced up the fame game last year, with Lady Gaga, Conan O'Brien and Twilight superstars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson joining the Forbes Celebrity 100 list for the first time.
But despite their impressive debuts (Gaga hit the list in fourth place), Oprah Winfrey is the year's big winner. After being ousted by Angelina Jolie on last year's list (Jolie dropped to No. 18 this year), the Queen of all Media takes back her crown on Forbes' annual ranking of the world's ultra-famous. Winfrey earned $315 million over the past 12 months.
The talk-show host choked up when announcing that this coming season of her flagship chat fest would be her last. The news helped the self-made billionaire garner more press mentions than any other member of the Celebrity 100. Winfrey earns big thanks to The Oprah Winfrey Show as well as her magazine, popular website, radio channel, TV specials and movies like the Oscar-nominated Precious. Looking ahead, her Harpo production company, which launched the careers of Dr. Phil, Rachael Ray and Dr. Oz, will introduce interior designer-turned-talk-show host Nate Berkus this fall.
Months later, the mogul will roll out the lifestyle-themed Oprah Winfrey Network in partnership with Discovery Communications.
Beyonce Knowles climbs two spots to No. 2 on this year's list, raking in $87 million over the course of the year. Her 90-plus date global tour grossed more than $85 million, bolstering a portfolio that includes album sales, her House of Dereon fashion line and a slew of endorsement deals, ranging from Nintendo to L'Oreal. Continuing to expand her business empire beyond music, the female half of hip-hop's most powerful couple also released her first fragrance, Heat, earlier this year.
In at No. 3: director James Cameron. Thanks to the box office success of Avatar, the man who once declared himself "the King of the World" pulled down a hefty $210 million over the last year. Though his 3-D film failed to win the Best Picture Oscar, it broke Cameron's own record by grossing $2.7 billion at the global box office, making it the highest-grossing film ever. (Titanic had rested at the top for 12 years with $1.8 billion.) With the Blu-ray edition of Avatar setting sales records and a sequel in the works, expect Cameron to continue to mint money for years to come.
Despite stock market swings and a global economy that seems reluctant to restart, the earnings power of the Celebrity 100 remains remarkably resilient. The stars on our list collectively earned $4.7 billion this year, up from the $4.1 billion they banked a year earlier.
The Celebrity 100, which includes film and television actors, TV personalities, models, athletes, authors, musicians and comedians, is a measure of entertainment-related earnings and media visibility (exposure in print, television, radio and online). Because of the growing power of social networks, we added a social media ranking that reflects each celebrity's presence on Facebook and Twitter. The earnings consist of pre-tax income between June 1, 2009, and June 1, 2010. Management, agent and attorney fees are not deducted.