Jolie dethrones Oprah as most powerful celebrity

Birth of twins helped actress take No 1 spot on 'Forbes' list

Oprah Winfrey will have to wriggle up to make room on the sofa because the queen of daytime TV has just been toppled as the most powerful celebrity on the planet.

Step forward Angelina Jolie, whose roles in Changeling and Kung Fu Panda last year pale in comparison to the starring role she plays in her own family drama, the latest episode of which adorns the cover of at least two celebrity gossip mags each week.

Surfing the wave of publicity generated by the birth of her twins last July, she has been crowned by Forbes magazine atop its Power List of the 100 most influential celebrities in 2009.

"Oprah is still our biggest earner, but when it comes to fame, Angelina Jolie is hands down the most famous woman on the planet," says Macey Rose, a senior editor at Forbes.

"There's a mystique about her that she has been able to maintain for years now, and there is always another story to tell about her children, about her films, about her philanthropic work and about her relationship with Brad Pitt. She is part of the pop culture dialogue on a daily basis and that sets her apart from every other celebrity."

The magazine ranks celebrities not just for the earnings power they are packing, but for the impact of their "brand", counting up magazine covers, TV appearances, and the acres of newsprint and gigabytes of internet space that are given over to discussing their movements.

The list itself, in the issue which hits news-stands this morning, will no doubt become the latest chapter in that eternally fascinating love triangle: Brad Pitt is overtaken this year by his former wife, Jennifer Aniston, who pips him to No 8.

The top 10 most powerful stars is split 50-50 between men and women, but if the list had been based on earnings alone, only Oprah, Madonna and Beyoncé Knowles would have made the top 10.

Angelina Jolie's earnings last year are estimated at $27m (£17m), putting her at No 60, one-tenth of the sum raked in by Oprah from her TV, magazine and lifestyle empire.

And what of the Brits? They may well discover that their castles stand upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand, but for now Coldplay rule the world.

It is a rare radio station in Middle America that doesn't play something penned by Chris Martin at least once an hour, and his troupe is officially the most powerful band on the planet, according to Forbes, which reckons that the band racked up about $70m in earnings in the past year, mainly from their giant stadium tour. They are at No 15 on the list.

They were out-earned by the equally ubiquitous international sourpuss that is Simon Cowell, who made $75m last year from judging American Idol, the nation's most popular TV show, and from his own talent show formats on both sides of the Atlantic.

But Cowell has to settle for 25th place in the power rankings.

JK Rowling, having exhausted her seven wizard books, did not make the 100 at all this year, despite having made more money than Oprah the previous time out, the year when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published. Daniel Radcliffe – described by Forbes as a "tween star" – stays on the list, at No 70, having taken his clothes off on Broadway for the play Equus.

New to the list this year is the country star Taylor Swift, who made $18m in the past year from selling four million albums and touring, along with one Barack Obama, to whom Forbes magazine gives the designation "author".

He is the first sitting head of state to qualify for the list, after his rise to the US presidency helped him shift a million copies of Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope. President Obama sits at No 49, a place behind George Clooney – and two places behind Australian grizzlerockers AC/DC.

Big names: Who made it

The 'Forbes' celebrity 100 power list:

Top 10

1. Angelina Jolie

2. Oprah Winfrey

3. Madonna

4. Beyoncé Knowles

5. Tiger Woods

6. Bruce Springsteen

7. Steven Spielberg

8. Jennifer Aniston

9. Brad Pitt

10. Kobe Bryant

The Brits

15. Coldplay

25. Simon Cowell

28. David Beckham

70. Daniel Radcliffe

94. Hugh Laurie

97. Kate Moss