Whether it was because the pressures of being famous became too much for them or they were battling secret health problems, some of Hollywood’s biggest stars have thrown away their glamorous lives of luxury and completely vanished from the spotlight while they were at the height of their careers.
Take Bonnie and Clyde actor Gene Hackman, for example. In 2004, the Hollywood legend shocked the world when he announced that he was suddenly retiring from acting after he was told by his doctors that his heart may give out if he continued on with his ‘stressful’ lifestyle.
The now 93-year-old former movie star, who was recently seen for the first time in public in years, packed up his things, left the razzle-dazzle of Hollywood, moved to Santa Fe, and never looked back.
And his quiet life in New Mexico, where he now spends his days painting, fishing, and writing, is a harsh contrast to the whirlwind time that he spent as an actor.
Jack Nicholson was once a beacon of success – starring in more than 70 movies and TV shows and earning 12 Oscar nominations during his vast, decades-long stint as an actor – but after more than 50 years in the spotlight, he put his previously fast-paced and highly successful career on pause in 2010.
Despite never formally retiring from showbiz, he hasn’t starred in anything since then – and the former movie star rarely ever leaves his home now
His The Shining costar Shelley Duvall completely fell off the grid after she decided to move back to her home state of Texas in 2002 – a decision that is rumored to have stemmed from the terrible filming conditions she was put through while making the horror flick.
She didn’t re-emerge until 14 years later, when she did a sit-down interview with Dr. Phil, during which she claimed there were recording devices inside her body and that her former Popeye costar, Robin Williams (who died by suicide two years prior), was still alive but had become a ‘shape shifter.’
Other stars opted to stop acting because they fell in love with another career path and decided it was a better fit – like Loving You star Dolores Hart, who became a nun after playing a woman who had a spiritual awakening in a movie, and Charlie And The Chocolate factor alum Peter Ostrum, who decided to become a vet after he gained a passion for helping animals.
Some actors and actresses, on the other hand, stepped away after their reputations were shattered – like Marlon Brando, for example, who disappeared for nine years during the ’80s after he faced a slew of negative publicity about his temper, fierce outbursts, and tumultuous love life.
As Gene re-emerges, FEMAIL reveals all the other stars who have quit acting in the midst of immense success – and uncovered the real reasons why they decided to leave Hollywood behind.
Jack traded in his highly publicized and glamorous life for a much quieter lifestyle in the late 2000s.
And while the movie star never publicly announced his retirement from acting, he hasn’t appeared in anything since 2010.
He hasn’t even been seen in over a year – the last time he was photographed was at a Los Angeles Lakers game in October 2021 – but what lead to Jack putting his previously fast-paced and highly successful career on pause?
Numerous reports have suggested that he is suffering from ‘dementia’ or ‘memory loss,’ but when asked about his sudden disappearance in 2013, he insisted his brain was as sharp as ever and that he was simply being more picky about his roles.
He said that he was less driven to ‘be out there any more’ because he ‘only wanted to do films that move people’ and movies ‘about emotions.’
‘I had the most chilling thought that maybe people in their twenties and thirties don’t actually want to be moved anymore,’ he explained.
‘They may want just to see more bombs, more explosions, because that is what they have grown up with. And I’ll never do that type of movie.’
Sources say he now spends his days shackled up inside his Beverly Hills mansion – and that he almost never leaves.
RadarOnline reported in January that the actor’s long-time friends were growing concerned over his increasingly reclusive nature.
‘He’s made it clear his home is his castle. But people just wish he’d come out of the house and pop up to tell them how – or at least reassure folks he’s OK,’ a source told the outlet.
The insider added that his ‘socializing days are gone,’ while voicing their fears over him ‘dying a recluse’ after ‘leading such a colorful life.’
‘His kids will visit, but they’re his only connection to the world. It’s like he doesn’t want to face reality anymore – and that’s just sad,’ they explained.
Shelley’s emotionally raw performance in the 1980 cult classic The Shining blew everyone away, but starring in the beloved horror flick was so strenuous for the actress that it may have led to her stepping out of the spotlight for two full decades.
Shelley, now 73, was skyrocketed into the spotlight after she starred opposite Jack in the psychological thriller 43 years ago.
She played Wendy Torrance – the wife of a psychotic murderer who was left fighting for her life as her husband began to unravel after they got stuck in an abandoned hotel together.
The role earned Texas-native Shelley massive fame practically overnight, and it led to her landing a slew of other roles in movies like Popeye, Suburban Commando, and Tale of the Mummy.
However, when the star was at the height of her popularity, she made the shocking decision to leave her glorious life behind and move back to her home state of Texas, where she pretty much fell off the grid for 20 years – a decision that many believe stemmed from the intense stress that she was put under while filming The Shining.
She later opened up about the grueling process, explaining that she and the rest of the stars were sometimes forced to re-film scenes more than 100 times, which left her mentally and physically exhausted, while ‘cruel and abusive’ director Stanley Kubrick ‘pushed and prodded’ her ‘further than she’s ever been pushed before.’
After relocating to Texas with her boyfriend – Breakfast Club lead vocalist Dan Gilroy, who she had started dating in 1989 – in 2002, Shelley went 14 years practically unseen by the public.
But in 2016, she appeared on the show Dr. Phil, where she gave a shocking interview in which she claimed there were recording devices inside her body and that her former Popeye costar Robin (who died by suicide two years prior) was still alive, but had become a ‘shape shifter.’
After the appearance, she checked into a mental health facility in southern California – but left a few days later after refusing medication.
In January 2021, Shelley spoke to to The Hollywood Reporter for her first interview in five years, and the interviewer claimed that they found her memory to be ‘sharp’ and her stories to be ‘engrossing.’
At the time, the publication reported that she spent most of her days ‘in her car, chatting with locals and snacking on takeout food.’
When asked why she decided to trade in her glamorous life as a movie star for a much more reclusive lifestyle, the star didn’t divulge a lot of information on the decision, but she did state, ‘They wear you out, man. The people.’
After spending 20 years living under the radar, it was reported in November that Shelley is set to make her return to acting in the forthcoming indie horror flick, The Forest Hills.
A representative for the movie told The Hollywood Reporter that Duvall ‘thoroughly enjoyed herself and said she missed acting’ while making the movie.
‘It was a lot of fun and I’m excited to be back,’ she added in a statement.