NEW YORK • Film-maker George Lucas' Star Wars empire - the movie franchise, not Darth Vader's fictional galactic government - planted him firmly atop Forbes magazine's third annual ranking of the wealthiest American celebrities which was released on Tuesday.
The net worth of the 74-year-old writer, director, producer and creator of the enduring space saga was estimated at US$5.4 billion (S$7.4 billion), leading a list that also included athletes, musicians and one wealthy illusionist.
Most of Lucas' wealth came from the US$4.05-billion sale of the LucasFilm production company to Walt Disney in 2012, Forbes said.
The figures on the list are Forbes' estimates based on the celebrities' known holdings of real estate, art and shares of companies both public and private, as well as other assets and estimated lifetime earnings. Reuters has not independently confirmed the figures.
Fellow film-maker Steven Spielberg, who turned 72 on Tuesday, came in second, with an estimated US$3.7 billion net worth.
Spielberg's career as director, writer and producer spans about 50 years with credits that include Jaws (1975), Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981), E.T. (1982), Schindler's List (1993) and Saving Private Ryan (1998).
The celebrities on the list had estimated combined assets of US$18.7 billion, more than the gross domestic product of Iceland, Forbes said.
The richest female celebrity was Oprah Winfrey, 64, whose acting and media enterprises have yielded her a net worth of an estimated US$2.8 billion, third overall.
Basketball legend Michael Jordan boosted his net worth by an estimated US$400 million in the past year, mostly off his 34-year-long sneaker deal with Nike and his stake in the National Basketball Association team Charlotte Hornets. His estimated US$1.7 billion net worth ranked him fourth.
New to the Forbes list this year was Kylie Jenner, whose growing wealth from her Kylie Cosmetics is on track to make the 21-year-old the youngest-ever self-made billionaire, the magazine said.
Jenner was tied with rapper Jay-Z at No. 5, each with fortunes estimated at US$900 million.
Rounding out the list were illusionist and entertainer David Copperfield, who amassed his fortune through a gruelling pace of 600 shows a year in Las Vegas, rapper Diddy, golfer Tiger Woods and author James Patterson.