Life of the Former Stars Beyond Hollywood and Reasons Behind Their Decision to Leave the Spotlight
It’s surprising to discover what our most beloved actors are up to away from the camera. We're taking a look at stars that walked away from the cameras, into their real lives. Some found struggle while others made a conscious decision to find a life beyond Hollywood. Plus - there's an uber-famous actor who just decided to leave Hollywood behind, and we'll tell you why!
Gene Hackman – Novelist
Gene Hackman was a name everyone knew when 'Bonnie and Clyde' just came out in theaters in 1967. Hackman's career included several more blockbusters, including 'Hoosiers' and 'Crimson Tide,' 'The Poseidon Adventure, 'The Conversation, 'Superman: The Movie as arch-villain Lex Luthor,' 'The Firm,' 'Enemy of the State, 'Behind Enemy Lines,' and 'Welcome to Mooseport.'
His final acting role was in 2004. That year, Hackman went on Larry King Live! to announce that he had no upcoming acting projects. He went on to write three successful novels, and voiced the narration for the documentaries 'The Unknown Flag Raiser of Iwo Jima' and 'We, the Marines.'
Sean Connery – Retired
As the first actor to play James Bond in a movie, Sean Connery will forever be intrinsically tied to 007. Between 1962 and 1983, he starred in seven James Bond films. In the late 80s, People magazine voted Connery the most attractive man alive. He won an Academy Award, two BAFTA Awards, and three Golden Globes, including the Cecil B. DeMille Award and a Henrietta Award.
Fast forward a couple of decades to 2000, something else amazing happened. The actor was knighted by Elizabeth II for his services and contributions to Film Drama. Connery confirmed his retirement in 2007 when asked if he would appear in the fourth 'Indiana Jones' film. His answer? “Retirement is just too much-damned fun.”
Erin Moran – Faded from the Limelight
Moran's breakthrough role came with the hit series 'Happy Days.' She was 13-years-old at the time and co-starred on the show for eight years. Moran and Scott Baio moved on to star on the spin-off series, 'Joanie Loves Chachi. After one year, she returned to 'Happy Days' for its final season.
Moran was rarely seen after the ’80s and admitted that she suffered from depression, due to which she failed to secure acting gigs. She resurfaced in 2008, as a contestant on VH1's reality show 'Celebrity Fit Club.’ Two years later, Erin Moran appeared in the independent comedy feature 'Not Another B Movie.'
In 2013, there were reports that 'Happy Days' co-stars Henry Winkler, Ron Howard, and Scott Baio in the fourth season of 'Arrested Development.' She did not appear in the series, though. Unfortunately, the Hollywood star passed away in April 2017. The cause of death was due to complications of stage four squamous cell carcinoma of the throat, aka throat cancer.
Kirk Cameron – Religion and Activism
He grew to fame portraying oh-so-cool Mike Seaver in 'Growing Pains.' Over time, Kirk Cameron's love for acting took a backseat to his other passions. He gave his full attention to religious activism. On the change, he said, "I definitely made an about-face. I shifted my focus from 100% on the show, to 100% on my new life, and left 0% on the show.”
During his time on 'Growing Pains,' he became a born-again Christian and insisted the scripts be changed if he did not see them as appropriate, and ultimately stopped speaking to cast-mates. He has worked on and appeared in several Christian films, all of which were slammed by critics. Since then, his film work has mostly centered on Christian documentaries.
Josh Saviano – Lawyer
He was known for portraying the bespectacled Paul Pfeiffer in 'The Wonder Years' during the ’80s. However, it was one of Saviano’s very few roles in film and television. Between 1989 and 2016 he didn’t appear on TV or film. Instead, he went on to Yale University, where he majored in political science.
Once Saviano wrapped things up with his education and received his degree, the Pfeiffer actor became a corporate lawyer. Skipping a few decades ahead, Josh decided to temporarily pursue acting once again, and appeared as a guest in three episodes of 'Law & Order' in 2016.
Cary Grant – Fabargé Director
Cary Grant is one of the preeminent stars from the classic Hollywood era. Grant grew to stardom as the leading man in romantic and screwball comedies in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. At age 62, he made the decision to leave the cameras behind in order to focus on raising his daughter.
He said he could have continued acting, “and playing a grandfather or a bum, but I discovered more important things in life".Cary Grant took a board seat at MGM and represented the cosmetics firm Fabargé. His friend, Frank Sinatra, presented him with an Honorary Oscar at the 42nd Academy Awards in 1970. After suffering a stroke in 1986, Grant sadly passed away.
Greta Garbo – Art Collector
It can't be easy to walk away from the fame and fortune of Hollywood in your prime, but that’s precisely what Greta Garbo did. The thrice Academy Award-nominated actress began her career in silent films before appearing in 1930's 'Agatha Christie,' in which she made her speaking debut.
After briefly suffering a stint as “box office poison,” she revived her career and good name only to retire at the age of 35. Garbo enjoyed a leisurely retirement, traveling extensively. In addition to jet-setting, Garbo began a massive art collection. At the time of her death, it was worth millions.
Syd Barrett – Painter/Gardener
One of the founding members of the rock band Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett performed with the band for four brief years before leaving in 1968. After battling mental illness, Barrett began performing as a solo artist, but by 1978. Eventually, Barrett ran out of money and gigs and was forced to return to Cambridge, where he lived with his mother.
While living in Cambridge, Barrett took up gardening and returned to painting abstract images. He had always viewed himself as primarily a visual artist. While attending Camberwell College of Arts in the early 60s, he took art classes and studied the art of abstract images. Unfortunately, Barrett passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2006.
Danny Lloyd – Biology Professor
He was the young boy from 'The Shining,' but he went on to teach science!He retired from acting two years after 'The Shining' was released. At the time of filming, the young actor was only eight-years-old. Apparently, when he was filming for 'The Shining,' he had no idea he was starring in a horror film!
Danny Lloyd is now a biology professor at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College in Kentucky. Lloyd was interviewed in the 1980 documentary, ‘Making The Shining,’ by Stanley Kubrick’s daughter, Vivian Kubrick. In 2019, Lloyd had a brief cameo as a spectator at a baseball game in 'Doctor Sleep,' a sequel to 'The Shining.’
MC Hammer – Public Speaker/Entrepreneur
Most people are familiar with MC Hammer, if not his music. Although he was at the height of his career during the 80s and early 90s, his presence has remained. Despite his early success, Hammer fell victim to a situation many breakthrough artists do - he struggled to manage his finances properly and ended up filing for bankruptcy.
Fortunately, the 'Can't Touch This' singer's many monetary issues were eventually settled. Hammer left behind the flashy, energetic dance moves and “Hammer pants,” and briefly became a preacher. Currently, the rapper officiates weddings, lectures at Ivy League Schools, and has even begun developing iPad apps! He also takes part and performs in 90s nostalgia tours as well.
Jeff Cohen – Lawyer/Writer
Jeff Cohen is known as Chunk, of the child stars in the film 'The Goonies.' But, the actor chose not to pursue acting as an adult. Richard Donner, 'Goonies' director, introduced Cohen to the business side of movies. "I grew up loving The Three Stooges and the Marx Brothers," he said, "but suddenly I had a new crop of heroes."
After finding out that many prominent figures on the business side of Hollywood had law degrees, Cohen left Hollywood to become a lawyer. He attended the University of California at Berkeley and became an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles. He later founded his law firm, Cohen & Gardner, and writes articles for 'The Huffington Post.'
Gary Coleman – Security Guard
During the 70s and 80s, Gary Coleman was a household name as the star of the hit show 'Diff’rent Strokes.' He was an endlessly funny child actor that won the hearts of millions. It may have been too good to last.
Although he was one of the most promising stars of the time, Coleman struggled financially. In 1989, he sued his parents and business adviser over misappropriation of assets, but declare bankruptcy a decade later. When he sadly passed away in 2010, he had taken on a career as a security guard and not worked as an actor in years.
Carrie Henn – Teacher
Another former Hollywood star who swapped their Hollywood life for a career teaching is Carrie Henn. Henn starred alongside Sigourney Weaver in 'Alien' when she was 10-years-old. She had a short-lived acting career and lived a Hollywood-free existence. Although she stood out in the role of the young girl in the film, she now works in a school in Atwater, California.
Doris Day – Hero to Animals
Doris Day's prime in the ’60s and ’70s, made her one of the biggest stars of all time. As of 2012, Day was one of only eight performers to have been the top box-office earner in the United States four times. With such an iconic presence in Hollywood, nothing about her could ever be forgotten.
She moved to Carmel-by-the-Sea to focus on her family and on caring for injured animals. During the last few decades of her life, she consistently turned down opportunities, citing health issues. At 89-years-old, Day released the album 'My Heart' in 2011, her first in nearly two decades. Day passed on May 13, 2019, at the age of 97, due to pneumonia.
Lark Voorhies – Author
'Saved by the Bell' was a 90s hit, and the cast members are still household names with their audience. However, following their success during the ’90s, some were not seen again and pursued careers elsewhere. One such actor is Lark Voorhies, aka the rich and fashionable object of SCreech’s affection, Lisa Turtle.
Voorhies was nominated for the Young Artist Award six times, and won in 1990 and 1993 for her work on the show. She enjoyed her time in Hollywood, however, the issues she suffered from contracting lupus only grew, and left acting behind, setting her sights on a different career. Voorhies became an accomplished author and has mostly stayed out of the spotlight.
Barret Oliver – Photographer
When Barret Oliver escaped from the rain to read his book in an attic he stole our hearts. In 'The NeverEnding Story,' he was the coolest and most passionate kid for whom books came alive! He also appeared in ‘Cocoon’ and ‘Cocoon: The Return.’ But, Hollywood didn’t make him feel alive, and he did not continue his acting career.
His last acting role was in 1989, and he realized he preferred to be on the other side of the camera. He found success working with print and photography, specializing in nineteenth century processes such as collodion and Woodburytype, and authored a book, ‘A History of the Woodburytype.’ His work displays in museums and gallery exhibitions.
Rick Moranis – Single Father
The Canadian actor is well-known for Hollywood films like 'Ghostbusters,' 'Little Shop of Horrors,' ‘Spaceballs,’ ‘The Flintstones,’ and 'Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.’ In 1991, Moranis's wife sadly passed away. He made the decision to retire from acting in 1997, so he could focus on raising their two children.
While working as an actor, Moranis had to do a lot of traveling, which he said he couldn't commit to while raising children, but returned to the business with voice acting. After he declined an invitation to make a cameo appearance in 2016's Ghostbusters reboot, Moranis clarified that he had not retired from film acting, but had become selective about future roles.
Brittany Ashton Holmes – Student/Barista
She was the cute little girl in 'The Little Rascals.' Although that cast made an iconic movie, it seems that there was not much more in the acting world following the end of production. Holmes retired from acting in 1996, just two years after portraying Darla. As of 2016, she was living in Los Angeles, working at Starbucks, and studying for a degree in political science.
Shirley Temple – Ambassador
At just seven-years-old, Shirley Temple was awarded a special juvenile Oscar for her contribution to the film industry in 1935. Although she remains one of the most famous child actors, it seems that the industry's appeal was gone by the time she was 22. She became a politician and diplomat, and in 1989 the US ambassador to Czechoslovakia.
He was the heartthrob of Melrose Place for seven years during the ’90s. Following his success in the series, he became one of the world’s most famous mommy bloggers. The actor exchanged scripts for content and co-founded CaféMom with his best friend from childhood, Michael Sanchez. Their website is a social networking site that focuses on the interests of women and parents.
The site used to provide an online community moms to connect for help, advice, and recommendations. CafeMom's community forums were shut down at 5:00 pm est on May 24, 2018. The company cited high advertising costs as the reason for the shutdown. Shue and Sanchez also founded Do Something. He now sits on the Board of Directors.
Amanda Bynes – Fashion Designer
Amanda Bynes was a successful child star with a massive repertoire of films and television series on her CV. However, after legal battles and personal struggles, Bynes disappeared. The former 'She’s The Man' actress set her sights on fashion, her education, and maintaining positive mental health. She graduated from California’s Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and plans to kickstart her acting career and branch into fashion.
Angus T. Jones
He appeared as the funny kid on 'Two and a Half Men' and continued his starring role in his teen years. However, as he grew older, it seems that Jones had a change of heart about acting, and the show, for which he was so well-known. Jones joined the Seventh-day Adventists Church and has since become part of the management team for an event production called 'Tonite.'
Jack Gleason was on one of the biggest shows of the past decade. However, after he played King Joffrey on 'Game of Thrones' for three years, Jack Gleeson said he was quitting acting. He was one of the most hated characters on a TV drama, and fans of the show were elated when King Joffrey was killed off in the series.
At that moment, Gleeson said he no longer enjoyed acting like he used to. Instead, Gleeson chose to study philosophy and theology at college. That didn’t keep attention or long andhe has since moved on and founded the Collapsing Horse Theatre Company, based in Dublin, of which he is also a producer and company member.
Erik Per Sullivan
It seems that Sullivan followed suit with his former co-star Frankie Muniz and chose to leave Hollywood after his stint in 'Malcolm in the Middle.' Having decided that Hollywood wasn’t his thing, Sullivan went to study at the University of Southern California. After his last appearance on 'Malcolm in the Middle,' at age 14, he has not made any television appearances.
Phoebe Cates – Philanthropy
She hit the ground running during the ’80s as a well-known Hollywood actress starring in 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High,' 'Gremlins,' and 'Drop Dead Fred.' During the 90s, Cates decided to slow things down, and ultimately took a break from Hollywood altogether. During this time, she focused her on her family and decided to pursue other work.
She returned to acting in 2001 for one film, 'The Anniversary Party,' as a favor to her best friend and fellow 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High' castmate Jennifer Jason Leigh, who directed the film. In 2015, Cates provided the voice of her 'Gremlins' character for the video game Lego Dimensions. She also works to raise awareness for Juvenile Diabetes.