Did You Know: The Monkey from 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' is the Highest Grossing Actor of All Time?

Did You Know: The Monkey from 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' is the Highest Grossing Actor of All Time?

Aug 09, 2011

Voice Actor Frank WelkerStop the average movie fan walking out of a theater and ask them who the highest grossing movie star of all time is and you’re likely to get the same few names. Some will go with Brad Pitt, others will go with Harrison Ford or Tom Hanks or Johnny Depp. All are sound choices – and all of them are wrong, according to a chart at The Numbers.

The website, which loves to take all kinds mathematical movie data and distil it into handy (and fascinating) lists, has compiled a chart documenting the Top 100 Movie Stars based on box office gross – and the king of the movie world according to this list is…Frank Welker. Who?

Welker is a name you may not know, but we can guarantee you’ve heard his voice. The performer has made a career out of doing voice acting and sound effects for a plethora of film projects, including this summer’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon, where he spoke for Soundwave and Shockwave. Appearing in 96 films that were counted in the list at The Numbers, Welker’s films have made over $6.2 billion dollars at the box office – an average $64 million bucks every time his name appears in the credits. His next closest competitor, Samuel L. Jackson, trails him by a billion dollars. He squashes every name mentioned earlier in this piece – the only one even close is Harrison Ford, who’s earned $3.7 billion to date…

While the list is certainly an interesting read, we do tend to question its actual worth. Is it really fair to credit Frank Welker with over $6 billion dollars in box office grosses? Sure, he did some real work in Transformers, but looking at his movie breakdown, Welker got a $165 million dollar credit for doing “parrot noises” in Deep Blue Sea, $136 million for doing the “voice of the anaconda” in Anaconda (the snake didn’t speak in that movie – although we might have enjoyed it more if Welker, as the reptile, had done all of J. Lo’s lines…), and another $386 million for doing the monkey sound effects in Raiders of the Lost Ark. We’re not trying to take anything away from Mr. Welker (lord knows none of us have a clue how to sound like an anaconda, and our parrot impersonations are pretty dire, too), but crediting him with almost three quarters of a billion dollars for those services seems a little off. No one’s sitting around saying “man, Frank Welker really nailed it as the parrot in Deep Blue Sea” after all.

The rest of the list is filled with equally interesting and baffling placements. The first female appears at number 20 – and it’s Mickie McGowan, who’s made a career out of doing “additional voices” for a bunch of popular kids’ films. Her only named role was as Officer Edith in Pixar’s Up. Still, films she’s appeared in have grossed just over $3 billion – putting her hot on the heels of #19, Marvel Comics icon Stan Lee. Yes, Stan Lee has actually “outgrossed” Matt Damon (#26), Robert De Niro (#36), and Mel Gibson (a lowly #57). We’re betting Stan uses that as part of the payment negotiation for his next cameo part. “I’m box office gold, true believers! Excelsior!” Then he tries to turn into The Hulk…

Whether or not you take the list seriously, there’s no denying that it’s a fascinating reading. Clint Howard is in the top 50 – do we really need to say anything more than that? Head on over to The Numbers and prepare to have your mind blown.

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