Part of the appeal of being a TV star is getting a lot of money. Let’s be honest. People who have always dreamed of acting often picture themselves living in an opulent mansion, driving a limited edition sports car and being able to go on shopping sprees on a whim. Sure, there are some pretty talented actors and hosts out there, but the lifestyle that TV personalities are able to live is a huge part of what makes the job so attractive.
As with all professions, there are some individuals in Hollywood who make considerably more than others. Some actors make an impressive salary because they’ve been in the business for such a long time. Others get paid a lot because they are in high demand. And, yes, there are a few TV personalities who can demand high salaries because they have honed their crafts and are actually good at what they do. Some of the people who make lots of money may surprise you, since many of these TV personalities aren’t constantly flaunting their wealth. Of course, that doesn’t stop the paparazzi from constantly stalking these stars and trying to get more information on their lavish lifestyles. Here are 12 television personalities who have the highest yearly salaries.
12. Jesse Tyler Ferguson
The red-haired talented actor who plays the role of Mitchell on Modern Family has had a huge hand in making the show so popular. He’s been a member of the cast since the show started in 2009, and earns $11 million a year. In addition to acting on television, Ferguson also made his debut on Broadway in the play On The Town, and he originated the role of Leaf Coneybear in The 25th Annual Putnam County School Spelling Bee. Jesse Tyler Ferguson graduated from The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City, and married his longtime boyfriend Justin Mikita, in 2013.
11. Ty Burrell
Ty Burrell is best known for his zany, hilarious and well-meaning character Phil Dumphy on the hit ABC series Modern Family. He worked as a bartender to get himself through school, and earned his Master’s of Fine Arts from Penn State. Burrell made a few guest appearances on the popular TV show Law & Order in the early 1990s, and in the mid-2000s, he starred in the sitcoms Out of Practice and Back to You. He got the role of Dumphy in 2009, and has won an Emmy and four nominations because of the role. Burrell earns $11.5 million a year.
10. Simon Baker
Australian actor Simon Baker first got major attention in 1992, when he received the Logie Award for most popular new talent. Shortly after this honor, Baker moved to Los Angeles with his family, and he was cast in the popular movie L.A. Confidential. Before making it big in Hollywood, Baker worked as a bricklayer. These days, Simon Baker is best known for his starring role on The Mentalist, and also appeared in the movie Something New. Baker was also one of People Magazine’s 2009 Most Beautiful People (which isn’t a huge surprise), and currently earns around $12 million a year.
9. Patrick Dempsey
The dashing Patrick Dempsey will always be known as McDreamy on the hit drama Grey’s Anatomy, where he’s been a cast member since 2005. He earns $12 million a year for his role on the show. Before landing his most popular role, Dempsey played in the 1980s TV series Fast Times, which was based on the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High. He also starred in the movies Loverboy and Happy Together in the late 1980s. Dempsey stretched himself as far as his acting abilities go when he decided to star in movies like Enchanted and Made of Honor. He recently reconciled with his wife Jillian Dempsey, and the couple have three children together.
8. Ray Romano
Even though Ray Romano has been a stand-up comedian for quite some time, he’s best known for his starring role as Ray Barone on the hit sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond. He takes home around $15 million per year for his role, and the show is in syndication on a number of popular cable channels. When he was working full-time on the comedy circuit, he got the attention of David Letterman, and earned a guest spot on his late night show. In addition to being known as the lovable but somewhat dim-witted husband on Everybody Loves Raymond, Romano also lends his voice talents to the Ice Age movie franchise, where he plays the mammoth.
7. Jon Cryer
Jon Cryer has long been one of the two men who make up Two And a Half Men. He earns $15 million a year for his role as a divorced father who is trying to be successful in love again. If you’re a fan of 80s movies, you probably also remember Cryer for his role in Pretty In Pink, where he starred opposite Molly Ringwald. Cryer was an original cast member for Two And a Half Men, and was on the show from 2003 until the show ended in 2015. He has been married to Lisa Joyner since 2007, and the couple has a daughter together.
6. Ashton Kutcher
When former That 70’s Show star Ashton Kutcher joined the cast of Two And A Half Men after Charlie Sheen was fired from the show, the storyline of the sitcom changed a little. However, the viewers still tuned in for the most part, and Kutcher’s star power earned him $20 million per year. In addition to being a TV actor, Ashton, a former model, has also found success in movies, and appeared in films like Jobs, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day and The Butterfly Effect. He married That 70’s Show co-star Mila Kunis in 2015, and the two have a daughter together.
5. Kunal Nayyar
London-born Kunal Nayyar is also a cast member on The Big Bang Theory. He moved to the United States in 1999 after spending most of his childhood in India, and studied business in Oregon. In order to make new friends in an unfamiliar city, he started acting in plays. He also started taking acting classes, and graduated with a business degree from the University of Portland, so he’d have something to fall back on. His acting training obviously paid off, because he now makes $20 million a year playing the lovable and bashful Rajesh. Nayyar also wrote a book about his culture and acting journey called Yes, My Accent Is Real. He has been married to model and former beauty queen Neha Kapur since 2011.
4. Simon Helberg
Simon Helberg is best known for role as Howard on The Big Bang Theory. Even though he was born and raised in Los Angeles, his father is an actor and his mother is a casting director, his main interest was karate when he was a kid. As a teenager, he “finally” started to act, and went on to study at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and the Atlantic Theater Company. Before landing his $20 million-a-year role on The Big Bang Theory, Helberg took a number of small roles in TV shows, and was a sketch comedian. In 2007, Simon married Jocelyn Towne, and they have two children together. This is a far stretch from his TV character, who often has trouble in the romance department.
3. Mark Harmon
If you’re a fan of suspenseful crime shows, you’re probably familiar with Mark Harmon, who has been on NCIS for quite some time. His yearly earnings from the show are around $20 million. He likely learned the basics of getting into a competitive industry from his father, Tom Harmon, who was a football player and commentator. Harmon is known for his dramatic roles and ability to bring intensity to a story line. Before his NCIS fame, he played a charming doctor on the 1980s drama St. Elsewhere, who contracted AIDS. Mark has also passed on the acting bug to his son Sean, who is known for his work in The Labyrinth and American Reunion.
2. Johnny Galecki
Obviously The Big Bang Theory is one popular show, and the show’s producers want the actors to know how much they are valued. That’s a large part of the reason actor Johnny Galecki is getting paid $27 million per year. Along with his co-stars Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki gets paid $1 million for each episode, and also gets a small percentage of back-end earnings from the show. Before he got his role on The Big Bang Theory, Galecki played Darlene’s love interest on Roseanne for five years (from 1992 to 1997). He also began a romantic relationship with Kaley Cuoco (who plays Penny on The Big Bang Theory), and they were love interests on the show, even after they were no longer together in real life. The two stars have confirmed that they are still good friends. After all, when you’ve got that much money, there’s really not that much to be mad about.
1. Jim Parsons
If you’re a fan of the show The Big Bang Theory, you’re familiar with the quirky and socially awkward character Sheldon, played by Jim Parsons. Sheldon is one of the show’s highly intelligent characters and adds lots of comic relief to the show. CBS obviously wants to keep Parsons happy, since he is the highest paid actor on the show. He gets $29 million a year, and also earns more than 1% of the show’s back-end profits. Parsons also has the distinction of winning the Emmy for Leading Actor In a Comedy Series, and has appeared on Broadway and in commercials, which has added even more money to his already impressive bank account.
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