pulling power the definitive list of box-office stars
The Quigley Publishing Company has been reliably compiling a list of Holly-wood's top money-making stars every year since 1932. The annual Quigley Poll is based on the revenue a star's movies generate -- but also on the votes of movie-theatre owners on who they know will attract an audience.
Last summer, Quigley's compiled their all-time top 20 of the past 77 years, carefully weighted by the number of annual lists a star appeared on during their career. It is interesting to see how few of this generation's A-listers appear in the top score. Even the few who do -- Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, Eddie Murphy, Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson -- are all on the wrong side of 40.
And the all-time box office big-hitter? John Wayne, a man who appeared in more than 150 films but only won one Academy Award, for True Grit.
1. John Wayne
He became a star in John Ford's Stagecoach (1939) and their partnership endured over 20 further successful movies. Wayne was consolidated as an icon of American masculinity, notwithstanding the variety of hairpieces he wore from the late 1940s onwards to hide his balding pate.
2. Clint Eastwood
Eastwood was another star embedded in the public consciousness by the western thanks to his role in the TV series Rawhide from 1959-64. Shortly afterwards, he transferred that recognition to the big screen and created an unbeatable niche as the tough guy anti-hero.
3. Tom Cruise
His break with Paramount Pictures in 2006 and his much-mocked interest in Scientology was heralded as the beginning of the end for the star system. That same year, however, he still topped Forbes magazine's list of 100 most influential celebrities. News just broke in the past week that he is on board for the fourth instalment of Mission Impossible -- it can't hurt these days to stay hitched to a franchise that has raked in $1.4bn (€1bn) worldwide.
4. Gary Cooper
He once said that "the general consensus is that I don't act at all". Luckily for 'Coop', the strong, silent type proved to be very suitable to the westerns (yes, those again) adored by the vast movie-going audiences of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. It helped that he nearly always played the good guy.
5. Clark Gable
Even though he had already been nominated twice for an Oscar before Gone With The Wind came along in 1939, Rhett Butler sent him stratospheric in the same way Titanic would anoint Leonardo DiCaprio 60 years later. Gable's appeal was such that he was second only to Shirley Temple in popularity in the 1930s -- and she's the star who apparently helped pulled America out of the Depression.
6. Bing Crosby
The ultimate crossover star, Crosby reinforced his movie-star status by being one of the most successful recording artists for 20 years from the mid-1930s onwards.
He was the person who did most to boost GI morale in World War II, according to Yank magazine. As a multimedia artist, he was almost unprecedented and certainly unrivalled.
7. Paul Newman
How to explain the enduring appeal of Old Blue Eyes? Was it his beauty, his talent, his contrary choice to play loners and outcasts that played against his looks? Whatever it was, when he died in 2008, Kevin Spacey remarked: "An era just ended."
8. Tom Hanks (tie)
Hanks might be more of a powerhouse producer these days, but as an actor he has brought in $3bn (€2.2bn) in box office receipts.
If ever there was a test of star power, it was his ability to seduce audiences to watch him play with a volleyball on a deserted island for the best part of the huge 2000 hit, Castaway.
Bob Hope (tie)
Hope had a mutually beneficial screen partnership with best friend Bing Crosby that yielded the seven hugely successful Road movies from 1940 to 1962. At that time he began his 18-time stint as host of the Academy Awards and a career in broadcasting: no wonder his name could sell a film or two.
Mel Gibson (tie)
Like Tom Cruise, his off-screen antics have tarnished his personal reputation, but for the 13 years during his career when he was a top 10 powerhouse, he's earned his place in the pantheon.
The top 20 is rounded out by...
Burt Reynolds, Doris Day, Rock Hudson, Julia Roberts, Eddie Murphy, Cary Grant, Abbott & Costello, Harrison Ford, Shirley Temple and James Stewart.