Celeb Salaries, Then and Now: Kaley Cuoco’s $900k Payday Could Have Been Just $1,500 in the ’60s
No surprise here: The Big Bang Theory stars Kaley Cuoco,Jim Parsonsand Johnny Galecki would have likely made a small fraction of their salaries if it was the ’60s.
The three currently receive about $900,000 per episode of the CBS sitcom—down from $1 million. They three, who were deemed the current highest-paid TV actors, had reportedly agreed this year to take a pay cut in exchange for stars Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch to receive raises.
In 1961, Dick Van Dyke, then a major TV star, earned about $1,500 per episode—the equivalent of $12,221, if adjusted for inflation, according to Parade.
SNL has also boosted the salaries of its cast members. Stars such as John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase were paid $750 per show—$3,396 today. Current cast members such as Kenan Thompson, Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant and Leslie Jones are paid up to $24,000 per show, based on seniority. The current season has 21 episodes, so that’s a more than $500,000 annual salary for some of them.
Movie actors still command the largest salaries. Jennifer Lawrence, the highest-earning female star, received $20 million for her role in the recent movie Passengers, while her co-star Chris Pratt received $12 million. In 2012, Lawrence had earned $500,000 for The Hunger Games, the movie that made her more famous.
Judy Garland received about $500 per week ($8,763 today) for her role as Dorothy in the iconic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, the outlet reported.
Robert Downey Jr.., the highest-paid actor in 2015, received a whopping $40 million for reprising his role as Iron Man in the 2016 film Captain America: Civil War, while Dwayne Johnson, last year’s highest-paid star, will be paid $19 million for his role in the upcoming movie Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Parade said.
Clark Gable was paid $117,917 ($2,066,542 today) for playing Rhett Butler in another iconic 1939 film, Gone With the Wind.
Speaking of The Hunger Games and Iron Man, in addition to inflation and Hollywood salary trends, successful franchises play a big part in salary boosts. Original Star Wars actors Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill got giant pay raises for reprising their roles in the 2015 film Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The three were paid $1,000 per week ($4,020 today) for their work on the first Star Wars film, Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope, which was released in 1977. They also received 0.25 of the profits from the theatrical release, Parade reported. The movie, which took about a year to film, made more than $775 million worldwide.
For Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ford received between $10 million and $20 million, while Fisher and Hamill were paid between $1 million and $3 million each, Parade said. Franchise newcomers received less; Adam Driver, who played new villain Kylo Ren, was paid between $600,000 and $900,000, while main star Daisy Ridley, who played heroine Rey, and supporting actor John Boyega received between $100,000 and $300,000 each.