Money may talk, but “all it ever said to me was goodbye,” Cary Grant once complained in a movie. That’s a familiar feeling to anyone who has ever fought off wolves at the door, but for most of the famous a lack of the leafy green is simply never a problem. At least not one as worrisome as staffing the Malibu mansion or investing all those TV residuals. Again this year we present a sampling of the salaries earned by the most interesting of these well-to-do’s, from pay-dirt newcomers like Michael J. Fox, Whoopi Goldberg and the rest on these opening pages to those who have been banking in a big way for quite some time. What any of this says about values, priorities or lunacy in the land, we’ll let you decide. But money does talk, and it often says something about us all.
Her school chums once called her “Much Adu About Nothing,” but that sleek-haired, liquid-eyed songbird, Helen Folasade Adu—having said adieu to Adu and become Sade—is one smooth operator now. In two years the ex-fashion designer and model, 27, has raked in $10 million, thanks to her platinum albums Diamond Life and Promise and her sold-out U.S. tour at the end of 1985. The new owner of a North London flat and a ’58 Wolseley sports car has certainly answered the question she posed on her first album: When Am I Going To Make a Living?
At 20, an unemployed actor named Michael J. Fox found himself $30,000 in debt, with a growling belly, standing outside a fast-food chain and wishing he “just had $1.99 to go in and buy chicken and biscuits.” Now he can. The 24-year-old star of TV’s Family Tiesand Back to the Future—1985’s top grossing film—can also tool down Sunset Boulevard in a $20,000 Nissan 300ZX Turbo. Fox may do the sequel to Back to the Future, and his asking price per film has gone to $1.5 million, a nice $1,250,000 raise since the first Future.
As the Revlon Girl back in her modeling days, lush-lipped, bountiful Kim Basinger admits, “I made an awful lot of money and I spent it all.” You’re never too old to learn. “Now I want tons of money,” Kim, 31, said recently, and thanks to her crowd-pleasing work in Never Say Never Again and The Natural, she’s getting it: $1 million for a new movie, No Mercy, with Richard Gere. A year and a half ago, making 9½ Weeks, she got a mere $400,000—and for that she was blindfolded, force-fed and generally humiliated. “It was the most depressin’ time I’ve ever spent,” Basinger says. Goodbye, depression.
Garrison Keillor recently remarked, “I come from religious people who do not admire success.” They must hate his latest book, Lake Wobegon Days, the biggest fiction seller of 1985 (1,100,000 copies), which, with his lecture fees, has earned him $250,000. Keillor, 43, also makes about $250,000 from his weekly radio show, A Prairie Home Companion. No word yet on what his relatives think of the $300,000 house in St. Paul that Keillor just bought his new wife.
Once Caryn Johnson worked as a morgue cosmetician. Two years ago she was a welfare mother. “It’s all happened after years of trekking around to little places,” she has recalled, “living on $300 a month and being perfectly content.” The speaker is now called Whoopi Goldberg, and at 35, she has a hit in her film debut, The Color Purple. Paid only $250,000 for that, she is already up to one mill per, but it’s not going to her head—or feet. At the Golden Globe awards, the winner for best actress was togged out in sweats and Reeboks. Nothing like sensible shoes.