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For the first time ever, women are dominating the top 10 of the newly released Forbes Celebrity 100 list. The magazine's annual roster of the world’s richest and most powerful stars, first released in 1999, boasts six women in the top 10: perennial powerhouse Oprah Winfrey, this year's No. 1, bagged earnings of $315 million and was joined by her celeb sisters Beyonce ($87 million), Britney Spears ($64 million), Lady Gaga ($62 million), Madonna ($58 million) and Sandra Bullock ($56 million). Angelina Jolie, last year's No. 1, dropped to No. 18, with earnings of $20 million.
How did women grab so many of the top spots? "They are really savvy entertainers who have been able to expand their fan base," says Lacey Rose, co-editor of the Forbes list. This year's list takes into account money earned from June 2009 to June 2010 in such ventures as films, music, endorsements, books, fashion and athletic clothing lines, as well as number of magazine covers -- which female celebs tend to grace more often than their male counterparts -- plus mentions in print, broadcast and web outlets. Facebook fans and Twitter followers are now also considered part of the mix.
"Once you make it to the top, it is a lot easier for women to expand their brands, through such things as fashion lines and endorsement deals," Rose says. "They can capitalize on their popularity." Women hold a particular edge when it comes to cosmetics endorsements, fragrance lines and hair products, and the insatiable appetite for celeb journalism can magnify their fame even further.
"Men can be nice to look at, but women are more relatable," Rose says. "Women love to read about other women's success." Winfrey, who first nabbed the No. 1 spot in 2005, is a perfect example of such popularity. Her empire extends from TV to radio, magazines and films. In addition to plans for starting her own network next year, she is responsible for having launched shows with Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil and Rachael Ray, among others. "She's doing it all," Rose said.
Surprises on this year's list include Madonna, who may not have been as thoroughly ubiquitous as in years past, but still managed to pull off the fourth highest-grossing tour of 2009. "She's still in the headlines," Rose said. Another high-earning celeb with a quiter profile this year was Britney, No. 6 on the Forbes list, who earned her keep by touring (she played 98 dates around the world) and endorsement deals with Elizabeth Arden and Candies. "She's letting her products and endorsement work drive her success," Rose noted.
Cracking the list for the first time was Lady Gaga, who debuted in the number 4 spot. Earning $62 million, partially through a 106-date tour, her headline-grabbing style makes her a marketer's dream for such clients as Polaroid, Virgin Mobile, Monster Cable and Mac cosmetics.
Still, for all their prominence in the top 10, women remain outnumbered by the men on the Forbes list overall. In general, male celebs continue to pull in more cash for movie deals (Avatar director James Cameron earned $210 million) and athletic endorsements (which accounted for Tiger Woods’ $105 million take, despite a disappointing year on the golf course and a mountain of personal drama). But don't count us out; for women, Rose says, "power and money and fame is very much within reach."
Do any of the names on the 'Forbes' Celebrity 100 list surprise you? Chime in below!