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The world's most powerful celebrities

The 100 biggest stars on the planet, as determined by a combination of income and buzz.
Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes
Despite being pilloried and parodied after pairing up with an ingenue 16 years his junior, Tom Cruise still reigns supreme at the box office — and on the Forbes listTed S. Warren / AP
/ Source: Forbes

The rich and famous have had a great year — and a terrible one. Movie attendance dropped 8 percent last year as fans retreated to their home theaters, complaining of, among other things, high ticket prices. Can-do-no-wrong actors such as Nicole Kidman delivered the year’s biggest turkeys ("Bewitched," anyone?). As a result, box office receipts fell 5 percent to $8.9 billion.

Breakups, babies and betrayals monopolized the headlines nearly eclipsing the careers of actors such as Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie (who, in a future twist of tabloid fate, tie for 35th on Forbes’ annual list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Celebrities.) But generating headlines isn’t enough to solidify your standing in Hollywood. A fat paycheck won’t do it, either. Only a combination of earnings and sizzle will land a celebrity a coveted spot on the Forbes Celebrity 100 list of the most powerful names in the business.

To generate the list, Forbes used a combination of factors including income, Web references as calculated by Google, press clips as compiled by Lexis/Nexis, TV/radio mentions from Factiva and the number of times a celebrity’s face has appeared on the cover of 26 major consumer magazines. Earnings estimates are for June 2005 to June 2006 and are dollars earned solely from entertainment income. Management, agent and attorney fees have not been deducted.

The year’s biggest winners were the entertainment stalwarts. The 20 most powerful names in show business is rife with seasoned old-school performers such as the Rolling Stones (No. 2) and U2 (No. 4), even Muhammad Ali (No. 13). The Champ cracked the top 20, despite not having boxed a single round in almost 25 years, when he sold the rights to his name and likeness last year for $50 million. Tiger Woods, who has been in the top five for the last five years straight, once again is ranked fifth, making $90 million over the last year, mostly from endorsements (although with $58 million in career earnings, Woods has made 25% more from actually playing golf than any golfer in history).

And the Rolling Stones aren't the only blast from the past — a lot of older marquee names made the cut including comedian Jerry Seinfeld (No. 28) for the ongoing strength of his show in syndication; schmaltzy crooner Neil Diamond (No. 47) for a new album and tour; and Jodie Foster (No. 54), the highest-earning (and oldest) actress on the list thanks to blockbuster performances in "Inside Man" and "Flightplan."

But despite being pilloried and parodied after pairing up with an ingenue 16 years his junior (nevermind the couch-jumping antics), Tom Cruise still reigns supreme at the box office — and on the Forbes list. Love him or hate him, Cruise, who earned $67 million last year alone, is Hollywood’s most bankable star.

But other stars are on the rise. Keifer Sutherland appears this year (No. 67) as a result of the incredible success of his Fox television series, "24." He reportedly inked a $40 million contract to play Agent Jack Bauer for at least three more seasons. Former supermodel turned talk show host Tyra Banks (No. 84) is making a play for Oprah’s crown. And women’s pro golfer Michelle Wie (No. 74), the youngest member of the Celebrity 100, had $10 million in endorsements before she turned 16.

Reported by Kurt Badenhausen, Tiffany Black, Amanda Ernst, Stephane Fitch, Evan Hessel, Megan Johnston, Peter Kafka, Michael Maiello, Matthew Miller, Peter Newcomb, Dorothy Pomerantz, Brett Pulley, Amanda Schupak, David Serchuk and Victoria Somers.