When we think of the world of celebrities, we think of beautiful people who make millions of dollars every year, live in mansions with maids and staff, fly in private jets, and, in general, live happier lives than the rest of us. And while there’s no denying that Hollywood offers big perks, those perks come at a price, one that is too high for some celebrities.
For this reason, or simply because they no longer enjoy being famous and want to pursue a different line of work, some celebrities choose to retire and completely walk away from it all.
Jack Gleeson is best known for his portrayal of Joffrey Baratheon in the hit HBO series Game of Thrones. But despite the show’s success and his new, budding career, Gleeson has chosen to retire from the spotlight for good because, as he says, “it’s just not fun anymore.” Gleeson is now focusing on his studies and getting his graduate degree.
Dave Chappelle had one of the most popular sketch comedy shows in recent decades. But after just two season of The Chappelle Show, he threw in the towel and retired, much to the confusion and dismay of his huge fan base. He steered clear of the public eye for many years after and focused on charity work in Africa. He has recently returned to doing standup so who knows, perhaps one day he’ll come out of retirement.
If you’re “of a certain age” you most likely grew up watching many of Rick Moranis’ hit movies like The Flintstones and Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Sometime in the 1990s, Moranis suffered a major loss when his wife died of cancer, and soon after he decided to retire from Hollywood so he could focus on raising his children as a single dad. In recent years Moranis has done some voice work in the Disney film Brother Bear and also recorded a country album.
Here’s another funny guy that fell off the map at just the beginning of what was shaping up to be a promising career. When Mitchell had a falling out with his Keenan and Kel costar, Kel retired from the limelight. He was so reclusive at that time that rumors circulated of his untimely death. But Mitchel is alive and well and currently focusing on raising his family.
American novelist Harper Lee is best known for her work To Kill a Mockingbird. That’s because it is the only book she has ever written. After receiving acclaim and accolades for her first work, everyone expected Lee would go on to become one of the most celebrated authors of all time. Instead she decided to retire and leave the public eye after writing her one and only novel.
Michael Schoeffling was one of the biggest heartthrobs of the 1980s appearing in many roles but his most notable was in John Hughes’ film Sixteen Candles opposite a pouty Molly Ringwald. After making a handful more films, Schoeffling decided he was no longer happy acting in Hollywood and retired to become a woodworker of handcrafted furniture.
Here’s another heartthrob who decided to take a break from Hollywood just as his star was ascending and he was crossing that coveted line into A-listerdom. After starring in blockbuster films like Pearl Harbor, Hartnett grew weary of the ‘Hollywood Game’ and officially retired. He has since spoken out against fame saying, “I think trying to stay at the top is a shortcut to unhappiness.”
One of the most beloved 007s decided to retire from Hollywood after starring in a string of box office bombs. In 2006, receiving a lifetime achievement award from the American Film Institute, Connery confirmed his retirement and joked it was time to finally relax and play more rounds of golf. While many actors try and go as long as they can, Connery wanted to enjoy his retirement after years of working hard.
There was a time in American cinema when Shirley Temple was Queen – or little princess – of the box office. She became one of the biggest child stars in the 1930s, usually making four pictures a year. But, after being the top box office draw for many years in a row, Temple decided to retire from Hollywood. Later in life she decided to enter politics and became the United States ambassador to Ghana and then Czechoslovakia.
When the adorably hunky Jonas Brothers showed up on the seen back in 2005, millions of tween and teenage girls everywhere lost their minds. And who could blame them… that hair, those deep brown eyes and the voices – the brothers were a musical phenomenon, and one that many thought would go on for many more years. But eventually Kevin Jonas grew tired of the spotlight and retired from the music business to become a contractor.
Howard Hughes was an eccentric director in early Hollywood who got his start by directing movies with incredible aerial stunts. He dated many glamorous Hollywood starlets including Katharine Hepburn. Directing aside, Hughes real passion was aviation and he is responsible for some of the most important breakthroughs in the aviation world. Suffering from extreme OCD, which hindered his ability to direct films any longer, Hughes retired and spent the rest of his life as a recluse.
Amanda Byrnes had one of the most promising beginnings of any child star. She starred on two hit Nickelodeon TV shows All That and The Amanda Show. All indicators were that Byrnes was headed for stardom. But after appearing in a handful of moderately-successful films, she began exhibiting odd behavior and eventually announced via her Twitter account that she was retiring from acting.
JOHNATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS
Jonathan Taylor Thomas was one of the cutest and sassiest of all the teen heartthrobs of the 1990s who rose to fame on the hit sitcom Home Improvement. Fans of that show were disappointed when they noticed Thomas was very absent from the last season of the show. Without making a big announcement he had retired from Hollywood to take a break, do some traveling, and eventually go back to school. He did just that and excelled academically at both Harvard and Columbia.
John Hughes was one of the biggest Hollywood directors of the past 50 years and responsible for such classics as The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. And though his fans wished he’d have continued to create movies that spoke directly to his audience, Hughes chose to retire rather early from Hollywood, saying he wanted his sons to have a normal life. Sadly, Hughes died in 2009 of a heart attack.
Between 1996 and 1999 Craig Killborn was host of The Daily Show (now most associated with John Stewart). After that he spent five years hosting the Late Late Show and then, without warning, he decided to retire. When asked why he retired at only 41 he said, “I didn’t leave to do anything else, I left to leave. I achieved my career goals and it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.”
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