Dead celebrities, big bucks

Dead_celebsThis year, it's hip to be dead.

The deaths of so many celebrities in recent months have highlighted the continued public attraction with stars - even beyond the grave - and the booming industry surrounding dead celebs.

"It's been a crazy year," said Scott Michaels, who runs, a site dedicated to tales of dead celebrities, as well as the "Dearly Departed Tour" in Los Angeles, California, where enthusiasts can visit sites of some of the city's most infamous deaths.

"It's weird because even [stars], who are already dead, like Anna Nicole Smith, are back in the news. Death has become trendy."

It's also a gold mine.

Mark Roesler, chief executive officer and chairman of CMG Worldwide - which markets and manages several deceased celebrities (some more easily managed dead than alive) - said fans often feel connected to stars long after they are gone.

"I think that with celebrities, we feel like we own a piece of them," he said. "It's almost like being part of the family."

That family expanded during what some have dubbed the "summer of death."

From May to September, Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, David Carradine, Wa lter Cronkite and Patrick Swayze all died. The attraction with such celebrities can mean big bucks for their estates.

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