PARADE article includes PB funeral home director

PARADE’s 30th annual What People Earn report in Sunday’s edition report takes a peek at how much money Americans make, including long-time funeral director Marshall Kelley of Pine Bluff.

“This year we’ve gone back to folks featured in past issues of WPE to take a look at some of their stories – the ups, the downs and surprising turnarounds over the past 30 years. They were asked: Are you happy at work? How did the recession affect you? Do you dream of finding a new job? The answers offer a revealing look at how our varied workforce has fared in these uncertain times,” a spokesman said.

The local Arkansas connection in this year’s What People Earn issue highlights Kelley, 62, and compares his earnings today to his salary in 1996.

This year, PARADE looks back at American paychecks over the past 30 years, charting the ups, the downs, and the surprising turnarounds. For the first time, editors tracked down more than 100 people from past What People Earn issues and took a peek at their situations then and now.

There are a number of celebrities and politicos whose salaries show the huge disparity between the luminaries and the worker bees. Taking the top prize in the salary roundup this year is TV queen Oprah Winfrey, 58, who earns $290 million as the CEO of Harpo. Flash back to 1984: Winfrey, then age 30, earned a not-too-paltry $200,000 as a host on AM Chicago.

But as it turns out, celebrities weren’t always raking in the dough.

• Before he got his big break on 21 Jump Street, Johnny Depp, 48, earned $13,500 selling pens over the phone to make ends meet.

• Ever imagine Don Draper serving sandwiches? Actor Jon Hamm, 41, spent much of the 1990s going on auditions and waiting tables (earning $14,350) to pay the rent. He now earns $2.3 million for his role on Mad Men.

• Before she appeared on American Idol, Carrie Underwood worked as a waitress, earning $15,980. The country star now earns a whopping $20 million.

• As a struggling actor in the 1980s, Steve Buscemi, 54, worked as New York City firefighter, earning $22,700; now he stars on Boardwalk Empire, bringing home $900,000.