For some, the siren call of fame is strong enough to keep people in the public eye for as long as possible. For others… it’s whatever.
These 30 celebrities decided their show biz success wasn’t worth the drama, and moved on to a more normal life.
Freddie Prinze Jr., Wrestling Producer
In the late 90s and early 2000s, Freddie Prinze Jr. was everywhere. He set the silver screen on fire with heartthrob-ready roles in I Know What You Did Last Summer and She’s All That. He even had his own sitcom for a season.
And then… he stopped.
Well, less “stopped” and more “flew off the ropes in a new direction.”
Prinze had always been a fan of wrestling, even contributing to the WWE’s message boards. So when he was looking for a career change, he was hired to write, produce, and direct for the WWE. Talk about a powerbomb.
Phoebe Cates, Boutique Owner
For viewers of a certain generation, Phoebe Cates’ performance in Fast Times at Ridgemont High was quite formative. After that iconic turn, Cates appeared in another 1980s classic, Gremlins. Soon after, she retired from screen acting, and decided to open up a New York City boutique called Blue Tree.
The name of her store comes from her husband, actor Kevin Kline. It refers to the idea that a blue tree feels unique in a forest, just like Cates’ store feels unique in New York City. The boutique has been successful, with items like talking Abraham Lincoln dolls turning heads.
Kris Humphries, Restaurateur
Kris Humphries was a basketball journeyman. The Minneapolis-born athlete played for nine different professional teams, including stints on both the New Jersey and Brooklyn Nets — and never once played for his hometown team, the Minnesota Timberwolves.
But then, Kim Kardashian changed everything.
Humphries married Kardashian. And suddenly, the spotlight shifted to him. He was regularly making tabloids, dealing with weirdly specific on-court heckles, and getting harassed in public. The two filed for divorce 72 days later. And when Humphries retired from the NBA, he moved back home and started franchising fast-casual restaurants.
Frankie Muniz, Race Car Driver
“Life is unfair”? Well, that’s one philosophy, widely spread by the Malcolm in the Middle theme song. But for that show’s central actor, child star Frankie Muniz, life isn’t unfair. It just takes some unpredictably hard turns.
And for Muniz, that’s exactly what he’s looking for.
Muniz first became interested in racing cars in 2001, when at the age of 16 he drove the pace car for the Daytona 500. Since then, he’s become a legitimate professional racer, even earning an award for sportsmanship from his peers. Muniz also manages an olive oil shop in Arizona.
Shaquille O’Neal, Police Officer
He’s not great at free throws, but he’s got a lot going on.
Beyond NBA Hall-of-Famer Shaquille O’Neal’s career on the court, he’s made movies, hip-hop albums, and excellent fashion choices as a TNT basketball commentator. However, one post-basketball career is stranger than the rest.
O’Neal loves cops. So he decided to become one… in multiple cities. He went through Los Angeles’ sheriff’s academy and became a reserve officer. He busted perps committing a hate crime in Miami. And he’s participated in cases in Virginia and Georgia, becoming honorary sheriff’s deputies in both states.
Gene Hackman, Author
Welcome to Mooseport was supposed to be a gentle comedy. A rare opportunity for acclaimed, serious actor Gene Hackman to score some laughs opposite Ray Romano. Instead, it caused Hackman to make the very serious decision of “retiring from acting.” What’s he been up to since?
It’s likely your dad loves many of Hackman’s film roles. And now, it’s likely your dad will like the books he’s writing. That’s right: Hackman is now a published author, crafting historical fictions like Escape From Andersonville, a story of prison escape set during the Civil War.
Kevin Jonas, Entrepreneur
In 2019, the world’s prayers were answered: The Jonas Brothers were back, after a six-year hiatus. So what had the brothers been up to since then? Nick and Joe began other successful solo music projects. But Kevin Jonas traded in his guitar strings for business plans.
JonasWerner is a construction company that offers custom-built homes and renovations. The Blu Market helps social media influencers partner with companies interested in working with them. And Yood is a phone app that makes ordering food simple. All founded by Kevin Jonas.
Are we sure he’s “Only Human”?
Nikki Blonsky, Cosmetologist
Hairspray (2007) wasn’t just a movie. It was a way of life.
After breaking out in the musical hit, star Nikki Blonsky nabbed the lead role on ABC Family’s Huge. But the show was cancelled after one season. So, Blonsky looked to her past to motivate her future.
In Great Neck, NY, Blonsky got herself a cosmetology license, learning how to provide beautiful hair and makeup looks. Then, she got herself a job at Superstar Hairstylists, putting those skills to work. Blonsky made it clear, however, that the job was a temporary support for her acting dreams.
Kal Penn, Government Employee
In 2004, Kal Penn went to White Castle. In 2009, he went to the White House. Bit of an upgrade, no?
Despite his goofy onscreen performances in the Harold & Kumar franchise, Penn nabbed a serious position as the Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement.
Using his real name, Kalpen Modi, he worked with the government directly to foster effective communication with underrepresented communities. However, after serving his position for two years (with a brief break to film the third Harold & Kumar movie), Penn returned to his show biz life.
Willa Ford, Interior Designer
In 2001, Willa Ford made being bad sound good. Her smash pop single “I Wanna Be Bad” helped influence contemporaries like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera to push the envelope with their own suggestive content.
One thing that Ford ain’t bad at? Designing houses.
After Ford stepped away from her music career, she transitioned into the world of interior design, building an impressive brand as W Ford Interiors. But don’t take our word for it. Ask Scott Disick, who hired Ford to be the in-house designer for his reality show, Flip It Like Disick.
Jon Gosselin, Exotic Dancer
You know you’ve messed up a relationship when your partner has to change the name of her TV show.
Jon Gosselin was married to Kate Gosselin. They had eight kids. And their hectic life was documented on the hit TLC reality show Jon & Kate Plus 8. Until Jon started “wandering.”
After their scandal-filled divorce, Kate kept the newly dubbed Kate Plus 8 show. Jon, moving away from the limelight, began working a series of odd jobs, including solar panel installation, serving at restaurants, DJing, cooking at a T.G.I. Friday’s, and even stripping.
Jon Minus Kate Minus… Clothes?
Gerardo, Youth Pastor
Remember the ’90s Latin-hip-hop hit “Rico Suave”? Strangely enough, that seductive jam is not recorded by an artist named Rico Suave. Its deep voice is provided by Gerardo, and after transitioning into a behind-the-scenes music industry job (he signed Bubba Sparxx!), Gerardo threw us all a curveball.
When you think of suggestive pop songs sung by shirtless men, you probably don’t think of the Lord. But in 2013, Gerardo announced that he was rededicating his life to that same Lord, becoming a youth pastor in Kansas and Kentucky.
Audrey Hepburn, UNICEF Ambassador
Everyone had the Breakfast at Tiffany’s poster in their dorm room. And everyone has a little black dress in their closet. It’s all thanks to the classic Hollywood style and influence of Audrey Hepburn. But many people forget she retired just a few years after her career peak.
Hepburn had worked with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for all her adult life, crediting them with assisting her as a child in the war-torn Netherlands. But in 1988, after her screen retirement, she was made an official ambassador, and went on several constructive field missions.
Cary Grant, Member of Several Boards
From His Girl Friday to North by Northwest, Cary Grant was Hollywood’s leading man who could tackle any genre with skill. He was suave, handsome, and incredibly watchable. And in 1966, at 62, he straight up stopped acting. And he started acting… as board member of many companies.
When Grant became a board member of cosmetic company Faberge, some assumed it was an honorary figurehead position. But Grant took it seriously, attending every meeting and getting his hands dirty. He took similar approaches when serving on boards for MGM, the Academy of Magical Arts, and Western Airlines.
Mara Wilson, Writer
If you grew up in the ‘90s, you undoubtedly recognize Mara Wilson as Matilda, the big-screen version of the classic Roald Dahl heroine who gets into psychic mischief. After the instantly iconic performance, however, Wilson decided enough was enough. She retired from acting at age 13, and shifted her goals.
Since becoming an adult, Wilson has been writing prolifically, including a memoir about her child star status called Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame. When she does talk about acting on camera, it’s usually with some disdain, though she still does perform storytelling regularly.
Ariana Richards, Painter
At the heart of Jurassic Park, Steven Spielberg’s dinosaur blockbuster, lies the emotional relationship between parents and children. Playing one of these children is Ariana Richards, who gave Lex an enjoyable amount of on-screen attitude.
But after that huge role, Richards decided to close the park.
Richards now lives in Oregon as a professional artist, crafting impressionistic paintings that win national awards. She grew to love art thanks to her time studying at Skidmore College and the ArtCenter College of Design.
Life truly does find a way.
Cameron Diaz, Self-Help Author
From her big-screen debut in The Mask, to her campily self-aware finale in Annie (2014), there’s something about Cameron Diaz. She lit up every project she appeared in with talent and enthusiasm, which makes her 2014 retirement all the more tragic.
But fear not: You, too, can live like Diaz.
Diaz has written two best-selling works since her acting retirement, focusing on bettering different parts of existence. The first, The Body Book, is all about how to keep one’s body healthy. The second, The Longevity Book, is all about how to keep one’s life long and prosperous.
Amanda Bynes, Fashion Designer
It seemed like Amanda Bynes would become one of Hollywood’s unfortunate cautionary tales. After breaking through in TV shows like All That and movies like She’s the Man, Bynes descended into a public breakdown. Luckily, she got her mental health on track, and started striving toward a new career.
Spurred in part by a brief 2007 fashion line, Bynes enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in 2014. Four years later, Bynes graduated with an associate’s degree. She’s also apologized for her public erratic behavior, vowing to turn her life around with a new eye on fashion.
Danny Lloyd, Biology Teacher
After appearing in a film masterpiece, actor Danny Lloyd quit Hollywood. You’re probably shouting, “Why?!” Well… it was The Shining. And Lloyd was six. And he had to act out horrific scenes while being tricked that he wasn’t in a horror film.
Now you’re probably shouting, “Of course he quit!”
The experience hasn’t seemed to affect Lloyd too much. He currently lives a quiet life in Kentucky with his wife and four children. He teaches biology at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College. And he will likely never stay in a Colorado hotel again.
Dylan Sprouse, Craft Brewer
His twin brother, Cole, has gone on to enjoy a highly successful role in the CW’s hit teen drama Riverdale. But in his post-Suite Life of Zack & Cody life, Dylan Sprouse has brewed up a different kind of recipe. Would you care for some… mead?
What’s that? You haven’t heard of mead? It’s a speciality drink with a base of honey and various fermented ingredients. And Sprouse currently operates a mead brewery in Brooklyn. Before that venture, he attended New York University and got a degree in video game design.
Tiffany, Clothing Store Owner
In 1987, at the age of 16, Tiffany Darwish ditched her last name and hit the top of the pop charts with “I Think We’re Alone Now,” a cover of a ‘60s rock tune. Then, she embarked on a country-wide tour of… shopping malls?
The experimental gambit worked: Her music was spread directly to the teens, and her debut album sold well. But after that, sales and public interest kept dwindling.
So Tiffany shifted, opening her own clothing store in Nashville, and began selling clothes directly to teens. It’s the circle of life.
Shirley Temple, Government Employee
We’re not sure what’s more famous: The child star Shirley Temple, who sang and danced in classics like Curly Top. Or the non-alcoholic drink Shirley Temple, which is a lemon-lime soda mixed with grenadine.
Actually, the drink is named after the star, so… yeah, it’s probably her.
In the late 1960s, Temple turned away from show biz and set her sights on making the world a better place. Over her late-period government career, she worked as a United Nations delegate, the Ambassador to Ghana, the Chief of Protocol of the United States, and the Ambassador to Czechoslovakia.
Peter Ostrum, Veterinarian
He got a golden ticket. But after playing the main character Charlie in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Peter Ostrum instead took a one-way ticket out of the film industry. The child actor just wasn’t interested in a screen career.
But something that happened immediately after filming inspired him.
When he returned home from set to Texas, his parents got a horse. And one day, a veterinarian came to examine the animal. And Ostrum found his fate. He received his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University, and currently practices out of New York.
Jeff Cohen, Attorney
The Truffle Shuffle. The infamous dance from The Goonies was performed by child actor Jeff Cohen, who showed up to set without telling anyone he had the chicken pox. Later in life, he did find his honesty — he didn’t want to be an actor.
He wanted to be a lawyer.
As an adult, Cohen used Hollywood connections from The Goonies not to score auditions, but business opportunities. He eventually founded entertainment law firm Cohen & Gardner, LLP, and has been profiled by Variety, the Hollywood Reporter, and the American Bar Association for his excellent legal work.
Michael Schoeffling, Carpenter
If you grew up watching Sixteen Candles, you had a crush on Jake Ryan. It’s just a fact. He’s so sensitive. So sweet. So friggin’ handsome. His actor, Michael Schoeffling, was undoubtedly about to become America’s next leading man.
He appeared in eight movies after Sixteen Candles, and then called it quits. He grew bored with the film industry and was enjoying spending time with his family, a wife and two children. So, he moved to Pennsylvania, and started a new life as a woodworker, making custom furniture.
Mike Vitar, Firefighter
You likely know Mike Vitar from The Sandlot, the endlessly quotable ode to summer friendships and baseball. But soon after breaking out in this film, Vitar quit acting, eventually becoming a Los Angeles firefighter. Heroic, right?
You may reconsider after hearing this story.
On Halloween in 2015, alongside his off-duty firefighter buddies, Vitar drunkenly accused a man of lacing Halloween candy with illicit substances. Then, the firefighters choked and beat the man, all caught on tape. Vitar pleaded no contest, was put on three years’ probation, and was suspended without pay for six months.
Kirk Cameron, Pastor
Yes, technically, Kirk Cameron is still acting. But we’d argue that the Growing Pains star’s recent performance endeavors are all in service of his new lifestyle as an evangelical, born-again Christian preacher. Cameron movies like Left Behind: The Movie, Fireproof, and Saving Christmas all help him communicate his message.
Beyond the films he makes, Cameron has publicly disavowed what he views as anti-Christian corruption in the entertainment industry, even rejecting certain storylines when he was on Growing Pains. He co-founded and is active in The Way of the Master, an evangelical multimedia program. He also trains other evangelical preachers.
Greta Garbo, Art Collector
Meatballs. Chocolate. And Greta Garbo. Three amazing things imported to America from Sweden.
The Scandinavian actor delighted audiences in silent films like Flesh and the Devil before transitioning seamlessly to talkies like Camille. Then, when she was just 35, she abruptly retired from the big screen. Why?
Garbo had always disliked the spotlight. She rarely went to parties, gave interviews, or signed autographs. So she decided to start a new, more private career: Art collection. By the time of her death, Garbo’s collection was worth millions of dollars, including masterpieces by Auguste Renoir.
Heather Donahue, Medical Marijuana Grower
Heather Donahue has lived three lives. One: a movie actor known for horror classic The Blair Witch Project. Two: a filmmaker who “died” while filming “documentary” The Blair Witch Project. Three: a medical marijuana grower. We may be disappointed she’s no longer one, but we’re glad she’s no longer two.
When The Blair Witch Project was released in 1999, it was marketed as being totally real. Which means everyone thought Donahue was totally dead. Which had a bit of an impact on her show biz career. So, she pivoted into growing special green medicine, even writing a memoir called Growgirl.
Kristi Yamaguchi, Fashion Designer
When it comes to figure skating, you can’t beat Kristi Yamaguchi. The athlete was a global icon in the 1980s and ‘90s, racking up medals faster than you can say “triple axel with a Y-spin landing.” After she left the rink, her icon status didn’t leave.
It spun somewhere new.
Tsu.ya is a women’s activewear clothing brand, named after Yamaguchi’s middle name. Yamaguchi designs the stylish duds herself, promising to hit the center between fashion and comfort. And most impressively, all proceeds help support Yamaguchi’s Always Dream Foundation, which helps children in need.
Gold medal, Yamaguchi. Gold medal.
The 30 Most Filthy Rich Actors and Actresses, Ranked
Most of us, at one point or another, have longed for greater fortunes. A bigger house, a nicer car. Or, at the very least, enough to pay the bills. Hollywood is chock full of loaded stars.
Not all of them have made the bulk of their dough performing in front of the camera. And some have opted to spend their earnings on some most peculiar things.
Let’s count down the richest living actors and actresses. We bet you’ll be shocked at how much some of them are worth.
The 30 Worst Performances From Typically Great Actors
There’s nothing like discovering a new favorite actor. A talented thespian who delivers consistently excellent performances. Until… they boink up. And they all boink up.
Here are the worst performances from 30 otherwise incredible actors. You know what? Everyone makes mistakes!
Classic Movies That Were A Nightmare to Make
Classic movies are a blast to watch, but many of them weren’t so fun to make.
Some of the most famous movies of all time were grueling experiences for the cast and crew. Read on to see which of your favorite movies were a total nightmare behind-the-scenes.