TV And Movie Star Salaries: Now Vs. Then

It’s no secret that film and TV stars earn big bucks, yet do today’s stars take home bigger paycheques than stars of the past?

That’s what the latest issue of Parade set to find out, in its annual “What People Earn” issue, which features some surprising answers.

For example, the current crop of late-night talk show hosts are paid enormously well, yet it’s small potatoes compared to the cash that former king of late-night Johnny Carson took home.

According to Parade, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon are today’s highest-paid late-night hosts with each earning $15 million per year (Conan O’Brien reportedly earns $12.5 mil, while Jimmy Kimmel takes home $12M).

This is lower than what David Letterman and Jay Leno earned in their heydays, each paid $20 million per year, while Johnny Carson remains the highest-paid to date, signing a deal back in 1980 that paid him $25 million a year to work three days a week for 37 weeks a year.

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Salaries for stars of scripted series, however, have gone through the roof. Back in 1980, “Dallas” star Larry Hagman made headlines when he demanded (and ultimately received) a raise from $15,000 per episode to $100,000 an episode. Compare that to the stars of “The Big Bang Theory”, who earn $900,000 per episode (which is still smaller than the casts of “Seinfeld” and “Friends”, who each negotiated $1 million-per-episode salaries).

Things have also changed on the big screen, with Parade using the “Star Wars” franchise as an example. For the 1977 original, stars Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford earned a paltry $1,000 a week (although Alec Guinness, the only established star at the time, took home $150,000 plus 2.25 per cent of the film’s profits, which made him millions).

For “The Force Awakens”, the stars did far better, with Hamill and the late Fisher paid between $1 million to $3 million, while Ford’s salary was a whopping $20 million.

You can read more about the then-vs.-now star salaries in the latest issue of Parade.

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