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Morgan Freeman tops Forbes list of the most trustworthy celebrities

By Dorothy Pomerantz
Forbes.com

If you're one of the millions of people who just spent two weeks parked on the couch watching the Olympics, chances are you heard Morgan Freeman's voice every night.

The 75-year-old actor narrated ads for Games sponsor Visa that touted unity and achievement. Freeman's melodic voice is unmistakable and it evokes one specific reaction in viewers that Visa desperately wants to be associated with: trust.

Bing: Morgan Freeman's memorable voiceovers

Freeman tops our list of the Most Trustworthy Celebrities this year. We used data from E-Poll Market Research whose E-Score Celebrity service ranks more than 7,000 celebrities on awareness, appeal and 46 different personality attributes.

When people say they find the actor trustworthy, they're talking about his public persona, which is defined by the roles he plays. Freeman almost never plays a bad guy: He's usually the calm voice of reason off to the side in movies like "The Dark Knight" and "Million Dollar Baby."

Of course he's also played God in 2003's "Bruce Almighty" and its follow-up, "Evan Almighty." How can you not trust someone in a role like this?

More from Forbes: Full List: The Most Trustworthy Celebrities

That may or may not reflect who Freeman actually is, but it doesn't matter. When it comes to celebrity, it's all about perception. Freeman has managed to avoid any big scandals (reports that he was dating his step-granddaughter turned out to be untrue), which helps him maintain the public's trust.

"Trust is subjective," says Gerry Philpott, head of E-Poll. "We ask people which word would you use to describe this person and a high percentage said 'trustworthy.' "

Many of the celebrities on our list have earned the public's trust by staying in the spotlight for decades without providing any grist for the gossip mills. Betty White, who ranks seventh, is the oldest on our list at 90. White is still going strong with a new show called "Off Their Rockers," which features seniors pulling pranks. (Maybe people shouldn't be quite so trusting of White.)

More: Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine talk career longevity

At 81, James Earl Jones is the second oldest on our list. Jones has been mostly been heard, not seen, on film over the past 15 years. Although he voiced one of the least trustworthy of all villains, Darth Vader, Jones' voice still has an effect on people. He was NBC's voice of the Olympics in 2000 and 2004.

The youngest celeb in the top 10 is a 48-year-old: Sandra Bullock, who ranks sixth, just ahead of White, her co-star in  2009's "The Proposal." Bullock is unique on the list because she has been touched by scandal: Her husband, Jesse James, was caught cheating on her just after she won an Oscar for her role in the 2009 film "The Blind Side," leading to their divorce.

Bullock came through the scandal looking like a star. She adopted a baby boy soon after and took a small breather from acting. She is still one of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood though. We estimate she earned $25 million between May 2011 and May 2012 helping her rank 55th on our Celebrity 100 list.

Michael J. Fox, who ranked as the most trustworthy celeb last year, came in fifth this time around. Philpott says that Fox's move down the list probably reflect the fact that the actor, who spends much of his time raising money for Parkinson's research, just hasn't been in the limelight very much lately.

Related Articles From Forbes.com:
The Most Overexposed Celebrities
Social Media Superstars
The Highest-Paid Celebrities Under 30
The Most Influential Celebrities

25Comments
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While I was watching "Bruce Almighty" as soon as 'Morgan Freeman' splashed on the screen the feel I got was like watching a GOD. He's got a fabulous voice. I guess I also heard him in one of the episodes of the "Discovery Channel" and it wasn't hard to make out it was 'Morgan Freeman'. He's got a rocking personality.

 

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Aug 15, 2012 2:28PM
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Really? trustworthy? maybe we should ask his wife if she thinks he is trustworthy....or are wee forgetting that he dumped her after many years of marriage for his 19year old niece
Aug 16, 2012 6:05AM
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Can someone remind me of why we are supposed to "trust" celebrities?
Aug 18, 2012 8:53AM
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he's only trust worthy to the lefty loons....
Aug 18, 2012 1:06PM
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I can not comment on the man because I do not know him. The article should have read he has the most trustworthy voice.
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