How to Marry a Millionaire

An Economic Update on the 1953 Film

How to Marry a Millionaire ScreentitleIn 1953, a great movie starring Lauren Bacall, Bette Grable and Marilyn Monroe was released called How to Marry a Millionaire.  I got curious as to how much money it would take to equal the same net worth today so I did an inflation adjustment because I wanted to know how big their motivation was in the film.

Turns out, someone who had $1 million in 1953 would have roughly $8 million today. That kind of asset base should generate cash dividends or interest of $34,000 per month without working, while still providing for inflation, taxes and some reinvestment to keep earnings growing in the future.

That means that every twelve months, another $408,000 would be deposited into your bank account and you could spend every penny without ever worrying about running out of cash.  It would seem that $34,000 per month would certainly be enough to live however you wished without ever going into debt.  Want a new Mercedes S Class?  Wait three months and write a check, or take advantage of a 0% financing offer and give up only $1,800 of your $34,000 each month for the next five years.  How about a $100,000 redecorating budget?  It would only take 90 days to achieve paid in full.

Although it is certainly not Buffett or Gates money, I would think that 99% of the population would be perfectly content on that level of purchasing power.  It would let you get used to $400 bespoke tailored shirts and $4,000 custom bespoke shoes.  You could give generously to charitable organizations and support worthy causes.  You would sleep with cashmere blankets, eat on gold-rimmed china with sterling silverware, and wear Creed.

These numbers would scale proportionately with each additional million dollars in net worth.  For someone with $2 million in 1953, it would be the same as $16 million today, which would generate $816,000 net cash deposited into their accounts each year and $68,000 in net monthly income after inflation, reinvestment and taxes.

It is interesting to me that a 1953 millionaire coincides almost exactly to the so-called Capitalist Class today, which is the top 0.9% of income in the United States.


  • Nirav Desai

    We’re millionaires as reviled as the top 1% is today?

  • test

    How did you generate 5% interest income risk free?
    More realistic calculation would have to take underreported inflation and taxes into account. So out of 5%, 4% inflation and 1% taxes (real estate, sales, capital gains, etc.) and you have net $0. To get 5% net of inflation you need to invest all of your asset in junk bond type of risky investments….or deal with volatility of equities which means you are spending time managing investments

  • test

    High end models earn millions now and mere entertainers are worth double digit millions.
    More relevant term would be “How to Marry a Billionaire”