Why Are the World’s Richest Actors All Men?

4 minute read

It helps to be funny, or a dreamboat in your fifties, or really old. You can be an African American or a Bollywood star in India. The one disqualifying factor: being a woman.

Those are the lessons from a list of the 10 Richest Actors list, as calculated by the Singapore-based Wealth-X, which describes itself as “the world’s leading ultra high net worth (UHNW) intelligence and prospecting firm.” TV star-entrepreneurs abound from Jerry Seinfeld to Tyler Perry and Bill Cosby. In this exclusive club, Clint Eastwood and Jack Nicholson, stars since the ’60s, rub shoulders with ’80s icons Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks and Johnny Depp. Adam Sandler is the newest traditional movie star, beginning his career in the ’90s; and Tyler Perry is the most impressive, having amassed his billions in the past decade, mostly by wearing a dress and playing the sassy matriarch Mabel “Madea” Simmons.

The lone non-American is Bollywood heartthrob Shah Rukh Khan, a 20-year star of such blockbusters as Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Kabhi Kuchi Kabhi Gham and Devdas. Known as SRK, or “King Khan,” he is also a TV host and owner of the cricket club the Kolkata Knight Riders.

(READ: Corliss on Shah Rukh Khan and Bollywood films)

The top 10, with each man’s age and loot:

1. Jerry Seinfeld, 60, $820 million
2. Shah Rukh Khan, 48, $600 million
3. Tom Cruise, 51, $480 million
4. Johnny Depp, 50, $450 million
4. Tyler Perry, 44, $450 million
6. Jack Nicholson, 77, $400 million
7. Tom Hanks, 57, $390 million
8. Bill Cosby, 76, $380 million
9. Clint Eastwood, 83, $370 million
10. Adam Sandler, 47, $340 million

You see no Julia Roberts, no Meryl Streep. Though they have appeared in many popular films over the past decades, they don’t command the salaries and royalties of a Cruise or a Depp, in part because they are not worldwide marquee magnets in zillion-dollar action franchises. The lot of actress has diminished since Mary Pickford was the richest star in silent pictures, a century ago, and Barbara Stanwyck the highest-paid performer in ’40s movies. For a redress of the imbalance, we may have to hope that Jennifer Lawrence can parlay her Hunger Games appeal into a career that allows a woman to make the really big dough. At just 23, Lawrence has the best shot at money equality.

(READ: Jennifer Lawrence’s Silver Linings Yearbook)

Another list of wealthy performers, compiled by the Celebrity Worth website, does a gender switch: women hold the top four spots. But each actress requires an asterisk. No. 1 is Dina Merrill, the Grace Kelly lookalike who played supporting roles in movies of the late ’50s (Desk Set, Operation Petticoat, The Sundowners) and enjoyed a long career in TV dramas. But her residuals didn’t create Merrill’s $5-billion net worth. That came from her father, investment banker E.F. Hutton, and quite a bit more from her mother, Marjorie Merriweather Post, heiress to the Post cereal fortune. When you serve your kids Cocoa Pebbles — not the soundest nutritional idea — you’re contributing to Merrill’s swag.

Second on the Celebrity Worth site is Oprah Winfrey, who in her 28-year talk-show-host career has acted in exactly four films. Third is Jamie Gertz, who’s been in movies (Sixteen Candles, Twister) and a quarter-century of TV shows from Square Pegs to The Neighbors; her wealth comes from her husband Antony Ressler, cofounder of the Apollo and Ares global management firms. Fourth is Jacqueline Gold, the British businesswoman who succeeded her father as head of the lingerie and sex-toy company Ann Summers; Gold has appeared as herself in reality shows (Fortune: Million Pound Giveaway) and game shows (The Verdict). To rise to the top of this list, a woman needed to be born to wealth, marry into it or be Oprah.

The highest-ranking male on Celebrity Worth: Shah Rukh Khan, at No. 5. On either list, it pays to be “the Badshah of Bollywood.”

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