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The World's Most Powerful Celebrities

Wonderwall, Wednesday, June 3, 2009, 2:58pm (PDT)

Edited by Matthew Miller, Dorothy Pomerantz and Lacey Rose, FORBES Staff

She's rich. She's talented. She's beautiful. And now Angelina Jolie is the most powerful celebrity in the world.

Thanks to the release of several blockbuster movies and an endless sea of media buzz, Jolie has dethroned Oprah Winfrey to top this year's Celebrity 100 list, Forbes' annual ranking of the world's ultra famous.

See the rankings: World's Most Powerful Celebs

Jolie raked in $27 million in the past 12 months thanks to a movie schedule that included Kung Fu Panda, Wanted and the not-yet-released spy thriller Salt. Even more impressive: The publicity she garnered following the birth of her twins, as well as the consistent headlines she grabs for her philanthropic efforts and her relationship with actor Brad Pitt, who ranks No. 9 on the list.

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Winfrey drops to No. 2 on the list. The media maven has pocketed $275 million in the last year, making her the list's top earner. Though viewership for her daily chat fest, The Oprah Winfrey Show, continues to erode, her earnings remain unchanged from a year ago. In addition to Winfrey's monthly magazine, she has a three-year, $55 million deal with XM Satellite Radio. Early next year, the self-made billionaire will roll out the lifestyle-themed Oprah Winfrey Network in partnership with Discovery Communications.

In a year filled with humbling bank failures and violent stock market swings, the earning power of the 2009 Celebrity 100 remained remarkably resilient. The cumulative earnings of the 2009 list totaled $4.1 billion, up slightly from last year's $4 billion haul.

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The primary reason celebrities are still making big money: Many stars are locked into long-term performance and endorsement contracts. If the economy does not improve, expect the downturn to catch up to the A-list next year.

The Celebrity 100, which includes film and television actors, models, chefs, athletes, authors and musicians, is a measure of entertainment-related earnings and media visibility (exposure in print, television, radio and online). The earnings estimates consist of pre-tax income between June 2008 and June 2009. Management, agent and attorney fees are not deducted.

Rounding out the top five on the list are pop icon Madonna ($110 million), singer Beyoncé Knowles ($87 million) and golfer Tiger Woods ($110 million).

The Material Girl banked the majority of her millions on the road. Her "Hard Candy" tour rounded out 2008 as the year's top-grossing international tour, raking in $280 million across 17 countries.

Knowles' haul came from album sales, tour performances, films, a fashion collection and a lengthy list of endorsement deals.

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Woods' pile of cash came mostly from endorsements, appearance fees and a lucrative gig designing golf courses. He spent most of the year sidelined with a knee injury.

Among the newcomers on this year's list: Twilight scribe Stephanie Meyer (No. 26) and country crooner Taylor Swift (No. 69). Meyer, who sold 29 million books and created a vampire frenzy, earned $50 million during the year-long period. Swift was the top-selling U.S. artist of 2008, banking $18 million off of a tour, album sales and endorsement deals.

Barack Obama joins the list as the first sitting head of state to land on the Celebrity 100. The President's historic election last year helped him sell millions of books. He debuts on this year's list at No. 49, with book earnings of $2.5 million for the 12-month period.

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To make room for the new entries to the list, 37 bold-faced stars fell off. Among them: J.K. Rowling and Johnny Depp. Rowling lacked a new Harry Potter book, while Depp failed to release or collect on an installment of Pirates of the Caribbean.

Methodology

The Celebrity 100 is a measure of power based on money and fame. Earnings estimates, which include income from films, television shows, endorsements, books and other entertainment ventures, are calculated between June 2008 and June 2009. Figures were rounded off where appropriate. Sources include Billboard, Pollstar, Adams Media Research, Nielsen SoundScan, Nielsen BookScan, Nielsen Media Research and SNL Kagan. Fame is calculated using Web hits on Google Blog Search, TV/radio mentions on LexisNexis, overall press mentions on Factiva and the number of times a celebrity's image appeared on the cover of 25 consumer magazines.

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