4. J.K. Rowling
Estimated Net Worth: $1 Billion
J. K. Rowling is a British author who wrote the Harry Potter fantasy series. She was born in Yate, Gloucestershire, England, and studied French and Classics at the University of Exeter before becoming a researcher and English teacher in Portugal. Rowling conceived the idea for Harry Potter in 1990 during a delayed train ride and finished the book in 1995. Over the last 15 years, the Harry Potter series has gained worldwide attention, won multiple awards, and sold more than 400 million copies. Harry Potter has spawned a series of popular films, in which Rowling has had the overall approval on all scripts.
J.K. Rowling has led a “rags to riches” life story, in which she progressed from living on social security to becoming a billionaire. As of March 2011, when its latest world billionaires list was published, Forbes estimated Rowling’s net worth at US$1 billion. In October 2010, J. K. Rowling was named the Most Influential Woman in Britain. Some other wealthy authors include Danielle Steel ($610 million), Stephen King ($400 million), Tom Clancy ($300 million), James Patterson ($250 million), John Grisham ($200), Barbara Taylor Bradford (approx. $200 million), Nora Roberts ($150 million), Stephenie Meyer ($125 million), and Dan Brown ($100 million).
The last two Harry Potter books, Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sold nine and eleven million copies, respectively, within twenty-four hours of their releases. In June 1997, Bloomsbury published Philosopher’s Stone with an initial print-run of 1,000 copies, 500 of which were distributed to libraries. Today, such copies are valued between £16,000 and £25,000. The Harry Potter movies have grossed over $7.5 billion.
3. Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Estimated Net Worth: $3.4 Billion
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is an American actress and comedian widely known for her sitcom roles in Seinfeld and The New Adventures of Old Christine. Louis-Dreyfus rose to prominence as one of the regular cast members of Saturday Night Live in the early 1980s. She was later cast as Elaine Benes on the NBC sitcom Seinfeld for which she achieved much critical and commercial success. Throughout her career Julia Louis-Dreyfus has received two Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and five Screen Actors Guild Awards. She has a total of twelve Emmy Award nominations, seven for supporting actress in a comedy series for Seinfeld, and five for lead actress in a comedy series for The New Adventures of Old Christine.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus has had a successful and lucrative acting career, but many people don’t know that her father is a multi-billionaire named Gérard Louis-Dreyfus. In 1851, a man named Leopold Louis-Dreyfus founded the Louis Dreyfus Group, which is one of the world’s largest commodities trading and merchandising firms. Louis Dreyfus Group is a diversified French private company that is involved in agriculture and energy commodities. It owns and manages ocean vessels, develops and operates telecommunications infrastructures, and is involved in real estate (development, management and ownership). The company was managed by Julia’s father Gérard until 2006 when he retired. Julia Louis-Dreyfus has two half-sisters, Emma and Phoebe. The girls stand to inherit a large portion of the family fortune.
Most recently, Julia Louis-Dreyfus played U.S. Vice President Selina Meyers in a HBO satirical comedy pilot entitled Veep, written by Armando Iannucci. In April 2011, it was confirmed that HBO had picked up Veep as a series. The show will co-star Anna Chlumsky and Tony Hale. It begins filming in fall of 2011 and is projected to premiere on HBO in March of 2012.
2. George Lucas
Estimated Net Worth: $5.2 Billion
George Lucas Jr. is an American film producer, screenwriter, and director. He is the founder, chairman and chief executive of Lucasfilm. George Lucas is best known as the creator of Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Lucas is one of the American film industry’s most financially successful directors/producers, with an estimated net worth of $3.25 billion as of 2011. To date, Lucas has directed 6 movies and produced 23 others. His biggest box-office hit is the epic Star Wars franchise, which has earned well over $5 billion in worldwide revenue from all six films.
George Lucas has pledged to give half of his fortune to charity as part of an effort called The Giving Pledge led by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to persuade America’s richest individuals to donate their financial wealth to charities. Some other extremely wealthy film director/producers include Steven Spielberg ($3 billion), James Cameron ($650 million), Mel Gibson ($600 million), Clint Eastwood ($400 million), Peter Jackson ($315 million), Ridley Scott ($180 million), Ron Howard ($140 million), JJ Abrams ($95 million), and Christopher Nolan ($90 million).
George Lucas next project is a 2012 movie titled Red Tails. The story was written by John Ridley and is inspired by true events. George Lucas serves as the executive producer for the project, which is based on the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African-American combat pilots during World War II. The movie is the first Lucasfilm production that is not associated with Indiana Jones or Star Wars since Radioland Murders (1994).
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