Not all famous child actors are able to hold onto the success they achieve early in life, but some go on to pursue long-lasting careers — and accumulate sizable sums of money while doing so.
Last updated: July 27, 2021
Alyssa Milano: $10 Million
Alyssa Milano rose to fame when she starred on the TV sitcom "Who's the Boss?" from 1984 to 1992. Her acting career has flourished since then — she's starred on the TV shows "Melrose Place," "Charmed," "My Name Is Earl," "Mistresses" and most recently the series "Insatiable."
Sean Astin: $10 Million
Sean Astin made his film debut in 1985's "The Goonies" and has acted steadily ever since. He's probably best known now for playing Sam in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
Astin has a couple of movies in the works, including the forthcoming "Man & Witch."
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Dakota Fanning: $12 Million
Even though she’s only 27 years old, Dakota Fanning already has nearly 70 acting credits to her name. Fanning landed one-off roles on “ER,” “Ally McBeal” and “Malcolm in the Middle” before starring alongside Sean Penn and Michelle Pfeiffer in 2001’s “I Am Sam.” She went on to star in “Uptown Girls” and “Charlotte’s Web” as well as “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” and “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2.” Fanning is set to star in the upcoming movie adaptation of "The Nightingale" alongside her sister, Elle.
Anna Paquin: $14 Million
Anna Paquin landed her first-ever acting job at the age of 9 in 1993's "The Piano." She became one of the youngest Oscar winners of all time when she took home the award for best actress in a supporting role, Entertainment Weekly reported. Paquin has had success as an adult actress as well, starring in the TV series "True Blood" from 2008 to 2014 and as Rogue in the "X-Men" movies.
Christina Ricci: $18 Million
Christina Ricci made her big-screen debut in 1990's "Mermaids" before going on to star in "The Addams Family," "The Addams Family Values," "Casper" and "Now and Then" as a successful child actor. She has continued acting in film and TV since her early start, and recently appeared as Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald on the Amazon series "Z: The Beginning of Everything." Her movies — which also include the hit "Sleepy Hollow" — have grossed in excess of $1.4 billion, according to data pulled from Box Office Mojo.
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Eliza Dushku: $20 Million
Eliza Dushku acted in community theater before landing the role of Alice in "That Night" in 1992 -- the year she turned 12. She's since starred in "Bring It On," "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back," "Wrong Turn" and the TV series "Dollhouse." She most recently starred in the TV movie "The Saint."
Elijah Wood: $20 Million
Elijah Wood was starring in films long before he became a household name as Frodo in the "Lord of the Rings" franchise. Wood had a bit part in "Back to the Future Part II" in 1989, which was his first big-screen role, but he had more major roles in 1992's "Radio Flyer," alongside Lorraine Bracco and John Heard, and in 1993's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," alongside Courtney B. Vance and Robbie Coltrane. Wood has been acting steadily through his long career, and movies in which he starred have grossed over $2.4 billion in the U.S. and Canada, according to Box Office Mojo.
Judy Garland (Deceased): $20 Million
Judy Garland worked as a traveling performer before being signed to MGM in 1935 when she was 13. But it wasn't until four years later that Garland got her breakout role as Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz." The film made her a veritable star and also earned her a special Oscar for outstanding performance by a juvenile. She later earned nominations for "A Star Is Born" and "Judgement at Nuremberg." In 2019, her legacy was revisited in the biopic "Judy," for which Renée Zellweger scooped up an Oscar.
Zac Efron: $25 Million
Zac Efron rose to fame as the star of the "High School Musical" movies, but he first acted on TV shows. He landed a few small roles early in his career before getting the part of Cameron Bale on "Summerland," which he appeared on from 2004 to 2005. In addition to starring in the three "HSM" films, Efron has starred in "Hairspray," "17 Again," "Neighbors" and "Baywatch," among others. His films have grossed over $1.2 billion in the U.S. and Canada, according to Box Office Mojo.
Efron is working on the TV series "Killing Zac Efron" and set to star in the remake of "Three Men and a Baby."
Hilary Duff: $25 Million
Hilary Duff's first credited acting role was in the straight-to-video movie "Casper Meets Wendy" in 1998, but it wasn't until three years later when she played the title role in the Disney show "Lizzie McGuire" that she really gained fame. Duff starred in the show from 2001 to 2004 and went on to star in the films "Agent Cody Banks," "A Cinderella Story" and "Material Girls." She also appeared on "Gossip Girl" and currently stars on the TV Land show "Younger."
In addition to acting, Duff has achieved success as a singer. Her albums "Metamorphosis" and "Hilary Duff" are both certified platinum by the RIAA.
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Kirsten Dunst: $25 Million
Kirsten Dunst started modeling and appearing in commercials when she was just 3, and she landed her first film role when she was 6 in Woody Allen's "New York Stories." That role was uncredited, but she's come a long way since then. In 1994 -- the year Dunst turned 12 -- she starred alongside Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise in "Interview With a Vampire." That performance put her on the map and earned her a Golden Globe nomination. In total, Dunst's films have grossed over $2.1 billion in the U.S. and Canada, according to Box Office Mojo.
Dunst's newest film, "The Power of the Dog," is currently in post-production.
Shia LaBeouf: $25 Million
Shia LaBeouf had a few small parts on TV in the late '90s, but his first major role was as the star of the Disney Channel series "Even Stevens," which ran from 2000 to 2003 and earned him a Daytime Emmy. LaBeouf starred in the movies "Disturbia," "Eagle Eye," "Fury" and "Lawless," but it was his work in the first three "Transformers" movies that really built his fortune. The actor reportedly earned $15 million for "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," which made $1.1 billion worldwide, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Shirley Temple (Deceased): $30 Million
Shirley Temple might be the best-known child star of all time. She began acting in movies at the age of 3 and had risen to superstardom by age 5. Her most popular films include "The Little Colonel" and "Captain January."
Temple wasn't just an entertainer -- she was also a brand. A wide array of products that featured her likeness, from dolls to mugs, were created and sold, all of which added to her bottom line. Temple died in 2014 at the age of 85.
Christian Slater: $30 Million
Christian Slater was 7 when he landed a role on the soap opera "The Edge of the Night." After that, he acted on Broadway before getting back to film and starring in the 1989 cult classic "Heathers." He's also starred in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," "True Romance," "Very Bad Things" and the acclaimed series "Mr. Robot." He's set to star in the upcoming television series "Dr. Death."
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: $35 Million
Joseph Gordon-Levitt began acting at the age of 7 and was just 10 when he landed a role in the 1991 TV series "Dark Shadows." He's gone on to star in movies that include "Inception," "Looper" and "500 Days of Summer." Gordon-Levitt has also worked as a producer and director and is the director of HITRECORD, an online community for creatives.
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Sara Gilbert: $35 million
Few child stars get to revisit the role that made them famous later in life, but Sara Gilbert has had the honor of doing just that. Gilbert stars in the ABC show "The Conners," a reboot of the hit show "Roseanne," reprising the deadpan character of Darlene. She is also a producer of the show, as she was for "The Talk," which she co-hosted from 2011 to 2016.
Demi Lovato: $40 Million
Demi Lovato has been focusing her efforts on her singing career in recent years, but she got her start as a child actor. She first appeared on television as Angela on "Barney & Friends" from 2002 to 2004, and made her Disney debut in the TV movie "Camp Rock" in 2008. She also starred in the Disney series "Sonny with a Chance" from 2009 to 2011 and in "Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam" in 2010. Lovato released her debut album, "Don't Forget," in 2008 and has released five other studio albums since then, including her latest "Tell Me You Love Me," which was released in 2017. Lovato has had 30 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, including four in the top 10: 2008's "This Is Me" with Joe Jonas, 2011's "Skyscraper," 2013's "Heart Attack" and 2017's "Sorry Not Sorry."
Matt Dillon: $40 Million
Matt Dillon's acting credits date back to 1979. That year, 15-year-old Dillon starred in the film "Over the Edge." He's racked up over 60 more acting credits since that time, starring in films that include "Drug Store Cowboy," "There's Something About Mary," "Crash" and "The House That Jack Built." Dillon has also worked behind the camera as a director and producer.
Neil Patrick Harris: $50 Million
Neil Patrick Harris launched his acting career at age 15, starring opposite Whoopi Goldberg in the 1988 drama "Clara's Heart." His portrayal of David Hart earned him a Golden Globe nomination for best performance by an actor in a supporting role. He then landed the title role in the popular '90s television series "Doogie Howser, M.D," which ran for four seasons. Harris has acted steadily throughout his career, notably starring as Barney Stinson in "How I Met Your Mother," which ran from 2005 to 2014. He reportedly earned $400,000 per episode during the show's last season, according to Forbes. Harris has also had success as a theater actor, starring in Broadway productions of "Proof," "Cabaret," "Assassins" and "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," and has hosted the Tony Awards several times.
He will be in the upcoming "The Matrix 4."
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Kate Winslet: $65 Million
Kate Winslet's first paid acting gig was a cereal commercial she starred in at age 11. She got her big break at age 17 in 1994's "Heavenly Creatures" and went on to star in "Sense and Sensibility" the following year, which earned her her first Oscar nomination. In 1997, Winslet was propelled to international fame when she starred opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in "Titanic." The film was a hit with critics as well and earned Winslet her second of seven Oscar nominations. She finally took home the coveted acting statuette in 2008 for her portrayal of Hanna Schmitz in "The Reader." Winslet's movies have grossed over $1.5 billion in the American and Canadian box offices, according to Box Office Mojo.
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Nick Jonas: $50 Million
Even before he was known for being the youngest member of the pop band The Jonas Brothers, Nick Jonas got his start as an actor on Broadway, acting in productions of "Les Misérables," "Beauty and the Beast" and "Annie Get Your Gun." In 2007, The Jonas Brothers released their self-titled second album, which went platinum and achieved commercial success for the group. After The Jonas Brothers released their final album before a long hiatus in 2010, Nick launched his own musical career, first as Nick Jonas & The Administration and later as a solo artist. He has had eight songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart as a solo artist, and his singles "Close," "Jealous" and "Chains" have all been certified platinum by the RIAA. Nick has since reunited with his brothers to release more music as The Jonas Brothers in 2019.
He has also found success in TV and film acting. While he started out acting in the Disney movie "Camp Rock" as well as its sequel "Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam," he's since moved onto more mature roles, starring in the Ryan Murphy series "Scream Queens," the MMA drama "Kingdom" and the critically acclaimed movie "Goat." He'll next appear on-screen in "Chaos Walking," which is due out in 2021.
Joaquin Phoenix: $50 Million
Joaquin Phoenix (born Joaquin Rafael Bottom) is at the top of his game now, after his 2019 Oscar win for his lead role in "The Joker," but he's been in front of cameras since he was a kid -- much like his late brother, River Phoenix. Joaquin got his start in TV shows and after-school specials, with a breakout performance in the 1989 film "Parenthood." An avid vegan and animal rights activist, he recently starred in the environmentalist short "Guardians of Life," and stars in the forthcoming Mike Mills movie "C'mon C'mon."
Raven-Symoné: $55 Million
Raven-Symoné gained fame when she joined the cast of "The Cosby Show" in 1989, portraying Bill Cosby's granddaughter Olivia Kendall. She went on to star in both TV shows and movies, including "Hangin' with Mr. Cooper," "Dr. Doolittle," "The Cheetah Girls," and the wildly successful Disney series "That's So Raven," which was the highest-rated show on the channel at the time among its target demo. She joined "The View" as a co-host in 2015 but left the show to develop the "That's So Raven" spinoff, "Raven's Home," which premiered in 2017.
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Keira Knightley: $60 Million
Keira Knightley landed her first TV role in 1993 at the age of 7. She had a few small roles in movies throughout the '90s and reached new levels of fame when she starred in "Bend It Like Beckham" in 2002. Since then, Knightley has acted in a number of notable movies including "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," "Pride & Prejudice," "Atonement" and "The Imitation Game." Her movies have grossed nearly $2.3 billion in the U.S. and Canada, according to Box Office Mojo.
Knightley is next slated to star in the film "Silent Night."
Ryan Gosling: $70 Million
Ryan Gosling's first role was on "The All New Mickey Mouse Club" back in 1993. The Canadian actor earned small parts on "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" and "Goosebumps" before joining the casts of "Breaker High" and "Young Hercules" in the late '90s. Gosling's breakout role was portraying Noah in the 2004 romantic drama "The Notebook," opposite Rachel McAdams. He's gone on to star in the films "Crazy, Stupid Love," "The Big Short," "Drive" and "La La Land" and has earned two Academy Award nominations. His movies have grossed over $914 million in the U.S. and Canada, according to Box Office Mojo.
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Selena Gomez: $75 Million
Before landing her breakout role on Disney’s “Wizards of Waverly Place” – which she starred on from 2007 to 2012 – Selena Gomez was featured on “Barney & Friends” as Gianna from 2002 to 2004. Gomez has landed steady acting roles since her start at a young age, starring in the movies “Spring Breakers,” “Rudderless” and more. She’s also had a lucrative singing career, landing on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in the music category in 2016. Her 2015 album release, “Revival,” was certified platinum by the RIAA, and she released her latest album, "Rare," in January 2020.
Gomez landed an endorsement deal with Coach in 2016 for a reported $10 million and has also inked deals with Coca-Cola, Verizon, Louis Vuitton and Pantene.
Emma Watson: $80 Million
Emma Watson's first film role was "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," which made her a household name at age 9 for her portrayal of Hermione Granger. She starred in all eight "Harry Potter" films, as well as having roles in "My Week with Marilyn," "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," "The Bling Ring," "Beauty and the Beast" and most recently "Little Women." Watson's films have grossed over $3.3 billion in the U.S. and Canada, according to Box Office Mojo.
Outside of acting, Watson has landed endorsement deals with Lancôme and Burberry, helping to boost her net worth to $80 million.
Natalie Portman: $90 Million
Israeli-born actress Natalie Portman got her big break when she was just 13, starring in "Leon: The Professional" alongside Jean Reno and Gary Oldman. She's acted steadily ever since, starring in movies that include "Closer," "V for Vendetta" and "Black Swan," the latter of which earned her an Oscar. She's been able to grow her net worth by starring in a mix of mega-budget films like 2013's "Thor: The Dark World" and more indie vehicles like the upcoming TV series "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves."
Jodie Foster: $100 Million
Jodie Foster got her start at a very young age, first appearing in commercials. She landed her own TV series, "Paper Moon," in 1974, and gained even more fame when she starred in "Taxi Driver" in 1976. She was only 13 at the time, but she scored her first Academy Award nomination for the role. She's gone on to be nominated three more times and has won twice.
Since child stardom, Foster has scored roles in a number of noteworthy films, including "Silence of the Lambs," "Contact" and "The Brave One."
Daniel Radcliffe: $110 Million
Shortly before rising to fame as the title star of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," Daniel Radcliffe made his film debut in the 2001 movie "The Tailor of Panama," which stars Pierce Brosnan, Geoffrey Rush and Jamie Lee Curtis. Radcliffe starred in all eight of the "Harry Potter" films, which he began acting in when he was only 11 years old. His movies have grossed over $2.6 billion in the U.S. and Canada, according to Box Office Mojo.
Britney Spears: $115 Million
Britney Spears first appeared on TV as a contestant on "Star Search" before getting cast on "The All New Mickey Mouse Club" in 1993. She soon transitioned from TV to singing, and her first single, "...Baby One More Time," sold 500,000 copies the day it debuted in 1998; it went on to go platinum. She's achieved major success as a singer since her start in the late '90s: Spears has sold 34.5 million album units over the course of her career, according to the RIAA.
There have been heated questions over just how much of this $115 million estate Spears gets to tap into herself, as her finances remain under conservatorship, presently controlled solely by her father, Jamie Spears.
Christian Bale: $120 Million
Christian Bale was only 13 when he starred in Steven Spielberg's 1987 film "Empire of the Sun," and he's gone on to play numerous iconic roles since, including Patrick Bateman in "American Psycho" and Bruce Wayne in "Batman Begins," "The Dark Knight" and "The Dark Night Rises." Bale won a supporting actor Oscar for "The Fighter" in 2010 and earned Oscar nominations for "American Hustle," "The Big Short" and "Vice." He's set to star in the next Thor movie alongside Natalie Portman.
Drew Barrymore: $125 Million
Though she appeared in the movie "Altered States" in 1980, it was her portrayal of Gertie in 1982's "E.T. the Extraterrestrial" that launched Drew Barrymore's acting career at age 6. Barrymore has 76 acting credits to her name, including roles in the hit movies "Batman Forever," "Charlie's Angels," "50 First Dates," "Scream" and "He's Just Not That Into You." Her movies have grossed over $2 billion in the U.S. and Canada, according to Box Office Mojo.
In addition to acting, Barrymore has been producing movies through her company Flower Films since 1995 and launched her Flower Beauty cosmetics line in 2013. The Flower brand umbrella now also includes eyewear and home goods. Additionally, in fall 2020 Barrymore launched a new talk show -- a move that will surely boost her net worth.
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Ariana Grande: $150 Million
Before she was selling out stadiums, Ariana Grande got her big break on the Nickelodeon shows "Victorious" and its spinoff "Sam & Cat." Her debut album, "Yours Truly," is certified platinum by the RIAA, and her four follow-up albums -- "My Everything," "Dangerous Woman," "Sweetener" and "Thank U, Next" -- have all reached platinum status as well.
Christina Aguilera: $160 Million
Like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera appeared on the talent competition show "Star Search" before joining the cast of "The All New Mickey Mouse Club" in 1993. Before releasing her own album, Aguilera sang "Reflection" for the "Mulan" soundtrack in 1998. She released her hit single "Genie in a Bottle" the next year, and it went on to be certified platinum by the RIAA. The singer has sold 21.5 million album units to date. She's also been a coach on "The Voice," for which she reportedly earned a $15 million salary, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
Miley Cyrus: $160 Million
Miley Cyrus rose to fame as both an actress and singer as the title character on the Disney Channel hit “Hannah Montana,” which ran on TV from 2006 to 2011 and was also made into a movie in 2009. Cyrus’ debut album “Meet Miley Cyrus” was certified triple platinum by the RIAA, and she reached platinum status again with the albums “Breakout” and “Bangerz.” Her latest single, "Slide Away," was released in August 2019.
Cyrus has also added to her wealth by joining "The Voice" as a coach for two seasons.
Scarlett Johansson: $165 Million
Before making it big as a movie star, Scarlett Johansson acted in an off-Broadway play at the age of 8. She scored some minor film roles throughout the '90s and became a hit with critics after starring in "Manny & Lo" in 1996. From there, the roles kept coming, and now Johansson is the highest-paid actress in the world, according to Forbes. The bulk of her earnings have come from her portrayal of Black Widow in the Marvel films -- she earns about $15 million per movie, plus backend.
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Drake: $180 Million
Before he was the rapper simply known as Drake, Aubrey Drake Graham starred as Jimmy Brooks on the tween series "Degrassi: The Next Generation" from 2001 to 2009. He released his first album, "Thank Me Later," in 2010, after completing his run on the show. The album is certified platinum by RIAA. Drake has had 99 singles and albums reach platinum or gold status, with 36 singles holding top 10 positions on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and "One Dance" reaching the No. 1 spot. Drake's "Summer Sixteen" tour was the highest-grossing hip-hop tour ever, amassing $85 million in ticket sales, according to Poll Star.
Ron Howard: $200 Million
Ron Howard is now one of the most acclaimed American directors, but he got his start on the other side of the camera as a child actor. From 1960 to 1968 -- when Howard was 6 to 14 years old -- he starred as Opie Taylor on "The Andy Griffith Show." He made his big-screen directorial debut in 1977 with "Grand Theft Auto" and has gone on to direct such major films as "Cocoon," "Apollo 13" and "A Beautiful Mind."
Howard's films have been a hit with critics and audiences alike. He's been nominated for four Academy Awards, and his films have grossed over $1.5 billion in the U.S. and Canada, according to Box Office Mojo.
Reese Witherspoon: $200 Million
Reese Witherspoon got her start in the entertainment industry as a model and commercial actress before making her leap to movies. Her first major film was "The Man in the Moon," which she starred in when she was 14. Witherspoon's career has blossomed from there. She's acted in a number of notable movies, including "Election," "Legally Blonde," "Wild" and "Walk the Line"-- which earned her an Oscar for actress in a leading role.
Outside of acting, Witherspoon has added to her wealth with her production company Hello Sunshine. The company not only produces films, but also operates a book club, Audible programs, podcasts and a video-on-demand channel with DirecTV, Forbes reported. She's also the founder of Draper James, a Southern-inspired line that includes clothing, accessories and home goods.
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Justin Timberlake: $250 Million
Before he was part of 'N Sync, Justin Timberlake was a mouseketeer on "The All New Mickey Mouse Club" from 1993 to 1995. Three years later, Timberlake and the rest of the boy band released their debut album, "'N Sync," which reached diamond status (10 times platinum) as certified by the RIAA. The multitalented singer released his first solo album, "Justified," in 2002, which went on to reach platinum status. Timberlake has had 19 singles place in the Billboard Hot 100 chart, including four No. 1 singles: "Can't Stop the Feeling!," "What Goes Around...Comes Around," "My Love" and "SexyBack."
He's also achieved success as an actor, starring in "The Social Network" and "Friends with Benefits." His movies have grossed over $994 million in the U.S. and Canada, according to Box Office Mojo.
Leonardo DiCaprio: $260 Million
Leonardo DiCaprio had small roles on the TV shows "Romper Room and Friends," "The New Lassie," "The Outsiders," "Santa Barbara" and "Roseanne" before landing the role of Garry Buckman on "Parenthood," which he appeared on from 1990 to 1991. In 1991, he joined the cast of "Growing Pains," which helped his star rise. DiCaprio transitioned to the big screen after his run on the show and earned his first of six Oscar nominations at the age of 19 for his performance in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" He became a megastar with the release of 1997's "Titanic," which is the third-highest-grossing movie of all time, according to Box Office Mojo.
DiCaprio finally won his first Oscar in 2016 after being nominated five times prior, taking home the Academy Award for actor in a leading role for his performance in "The Revenant." He is slated to star in a trove of upcoming films including "Killers of the Flower Moon," "The Black Hand" and "Roosevelt."
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Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen: $500 Million
Before they were fashion moguls, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen got their big break playing Michelle Tanner on "Full House" from 1987 to 1995, starting on the show when they were only 15 months old. After the show ended, the Olsen twins acted in and produced their Mary-Kate and Ashley home video series and starred in the TV shows "Two of a Kind" and "So Little Time." The Olsens are also co-presidents of Dualstar Entertainment Group, which owns the rights to their television, film and video properties.
Though they have both since stepped away from acting, they now run a fashion empire that includes luxury brand The Row and contemporary label Elizabeth and James. They each have a net worth of $250 million.
Elizabeth Taylor (Deceased): $600 Million
Even as a child, Elizabeth Taylor was recognized for her beauty and unique violet eyes. A family friend recommended her parents take her for a screen test, and she was signed to Universal Pictures at a young age. She scored her first film role in "There's One Born Every Minute" when she was 10. Now a Hollywood icon, the late Taylor has starred in nearly 80 movies and television series, including "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," "Suddenly, Last Summer," "Cleopatra" and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" She's been nominated for five acting Oscars and won two, and also received a humanitarian award from the Academy in 1992.
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Nicole Spector contributed to the reporting for this article.
All net worths are sourced from Celebrity Net Worth and are accurate as of Sept. 17, 2020.