The lure of Hollywood’s limelight might seem irresistible to most of us. After all, there’s the fame, the fortune and everything that goes with being a celebrity. However, many performers decided to leave Tinseltown to go back to a normal, everyday life.
These 30 celebrities said goodbye to Hollywood and hello to a normal job.
Peter Ostrum – Veterinarian
What he’s known for: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
He was the boy who found the last golden ticket in the classic 1971 movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder. The then-12-year-old Ostrum played Charlie Bucket in the beloved musical movie, which was his first — and last — film! He decided to leave his acting career behind became a large-animal veterinarian.
Jeff Cohen – Lawyer
What he’s known for: The Goonies
Remember Chunk from the 1985 classic The Goonies? Well, he left the acting business to take on another job in the entertainment industry: a lawyer! Cohen is a founding partner of the law firm Cohen Gardner LLP.
Sarah Michelle Geller – Entrepreneur
What she’s known for: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Geller was one of the hottest stars on TV during her stint as Buffy. After playing many roles across TV and film, she changed course and co-founded FoodStirs, a cooking- and baking-kit company that deals in organic and non-GMO ingredients.
Gene Hackman – Writer
What he’s known for: Oscar-Winning Acting Career
Hackman’s illustrious acting career spanned decades, with starring roles in Unforgiven (for which he won an Oscar), Bonnie and Clyde, and Superman, just to name a few. The now 88-year-old former actor devotes his time to writing historical novels at his home in New Mexico.
Mara Wilson – Writer
What she’s known for: Mrs. Doubtfire
Mara Wilson was featured in ’90s films such as Mrs. Doubtfire and Matilda during her time as a child star. As the years passed, she decided to pursue different interests. Today, she focuses on her new profession as a writer.
Phoebe Cates – Shopkeeper
What she’s known for: Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Cates was one of the biggest teen stars in the 1980s with roles in hit movies including Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Gremlins. Since those days, she’s devoted her life to raising her children with her husband, actor Kevin Kline, as well as operating her own boutique store in New York City.
Danielle Fishel – Journalist
What she’s known for: Boy Meets World
Best known for her role as Topanga in the ABC TV series Boy Meets World and the Disney Channel reboot Girl Meets World, Fishel also works as a reporter for the website PopSugar and its YouTube channel.
Ali MacGraw – Yoga Instructor
What she’s known for: Love Story
The actress, best known for her Academy Award-nominated role in 1970’s Love Story, ultimately decided that the celebrity lifestyle was just not for her. She took on causes such as animal rights and eventually became a yoga instructor, releasing a number of exercise DVDs.
Karyn Parsons – Philanthropist
What she’s known for: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
She may have played the snotty and spoiled Hilary Banks on NBC’s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but today Parsons’ mission is to help promote the work of unsung black heroes to children through her nonprofit, Sweet Blackberry.
Kevin Jonas – Contractor
What he’s known for: The Jonas Brothers
There was a time that Kevin Jonas couldn’t go anywhere because crowds of screaming girls couldn’t get enough of him and his brothers, who made up the Jonas Brothers band in the mid 2000s. However, after the band stopped recording in 2013, Jonas became a home builder and contractor. He made an appearance on The Real Housewives of New Jersey in his new role in 2014.
Mike Vitar – Firefighter
What he’s known for: The Sandlot
Vitar played the legendary Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez in the beloved 1993 film The Sandlot. After a few guest spots on television and film, he left acting and became a firefighter in Los Angeles.
Vanilla Ice – House Flipper
What he’s known for: “Ice Ice Baby”
His job after fame: House Flipper
Vanilla Ice was best known for his ’90s hit “Ice Ice Baby”, which got a lot of play on the radio, along with a lawsuit for the song’s use of Queen’s “Under Pressure”. After his music career, Vanilla Ice built turned to a new source of income: flipping houses.
Nikki Blonsky – Hair Stylist
What she’s known for: Hairspray
Nikki Blonsky sang her heart out as Tracy Turnblad on the 2007 movie version of Hairspray. But, after her starring performance, Blonsky seemed to have a hard time finding other roles. So, she kept busy working in a high-end New York City shoe store and in a beauty salon.
Josh Saviano – Entrepreneur
What he’s known for: The Wonder Years
Saviano played Paul Pfieffer, the brainy best friend of Kevin Arnold in the beloved TV series The Wonder Years. After acting, he graduated from Yale University, practiced law and is now an entrepreneur who helps artists with business ventures.
Dylan Sprouse – Brewer
What he’s known for: The Suite Life of Zack and Cody
Dylan Sprouse played Cody in Disney Channel’s popular teen show alongside his real-life twin brother, Cole Sprouse. Since his stint with Disney ended, he’s been spotted serving coffee and craft beers in New York’s East Village. He now owns and operates All-Wise Meadery, a brewery in New York.
Charlie Korsmo – Professor
What he’s known for: Hook
Korsmo played the adorable Jack in the 1991 movie Hook. He had a few other big roles as a child before leaving Hollywood. Korsmo has since built a thriving career, first as a lawyer and then as a law professor. He currently sits on the faculty of Case Western Reserve University’s School of Law.
Cameron Diaz – Author And Winemaker
What she’s known for: My Best Friend’s Wedding, There’s Something About Mary, and other popular films
Diaz became an A-list star in the ’90s after acting alongside Jim Carrey in 1994’s The Mask and became one of the highest-earning actresses in Hollywood in the 2000s. She last appeared on film in the 2014 remake of Annie, referring to herself in a 2018 Entertainment Weekly interview as “retired”.
In 2014, Diaz married musician Benji Madden, and the couple welcomed a daughter, Raddix, in 2019. Diaz has published two health-focused books, and in 2020 she launched an organic wine brand, Avaline.
Jonathan Taylor Thomas – Writer
What he’s known for: Home Improvement
Thomas, who left the ABC show Home Improvement in 1999, told People magazine the time was right for his departure, despite the series’ popularity.
“I’d been going nonstop since I was 8 years old,” Thomas said. “I wanted to go to school, to travel and have a bit of a break.” He made a few guest appearances on Tim Allen’s most recent series Last Man Standing, but spends most of his time writing and directing now.
Angus T. Jones – Event Planning
What he’s known for: Two and a Half Men
Jones starred alongside Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer in the CBS series Two and a Half Men as Jake Harper. Although he’s not acting anymore, he still has his hand in the entertainment business. He recently teamed up with Justin Combs (son of Sean “Diddy” Combs) to create Tonite, a “multimedia and event company.”
MC Hammer – Minister
What he’s known for: Music career
MC Hammer danced and sang his way to super stardom with a series of smash hits, including “U Can’t Touch This” in 1990. He rode the wave of success for a while, but hit on hard times, including bankruptcy. The former music star turned to ministry in recent years.
Andrew Shue – Online Publisher
What he’s known for: Melrose Place
Shue traded in his starring role in TV’s Melrose Place, eventually becoming the co-founder of CafeMom, a website focusing on parenting content and women’s interest articles.
Tiffany – Shopkeeper
What she’s known for: Music career
The perky redhead who made a name for herself in the 1980s by doing mall concerts and singing “I Think We’re Alone Now” faded away from fame rather quickly. In 2015, she opened her own store, Tiffany’s Boutique, in Nashville. It specialized in designer and vintage clothing and accessories. The shop closed a short time later, according to the former pop star’s Twitter account.
Taran Noah Smith – Carpenter
What he’s known for: Home Improvement
Another Home Improvement alum has made his way into real-life construction. Smith, who played little Mark Taylor in the ’90s show, hasn’t been in show business for years is actually using his skills in fixing homes (go figure!), helping those affected by 2017’s Hurricane Harvey. He headed down to Texas to work with Burners Without Borders to assist in the rebuilding phase of storm recovery.
Danny Lloyd – Professor
What he’s known for: The Shining
Lloyd had a short, but illustrious movie career. He played Danny Torrance in the 1980 Stanley Kubrick movie The Shining. That was his only film role and he eventually went onto to other jobs, including being a farmer and, most recently, a community college professor.
Jon Gosselin – DJ/Stripper
What he’s known for: Jon & Kate Plus 8
Jon Gosselin was one half of the reality-TV couple Jon and Kate of Jon & Kate Plus 8 before his marriage, and the show, spun out of control. After a very public divorce, Gosselin took up jobs like a line cook at TGI Fridays and as a disc jockey and sometime stripper.
Lark Voorhies – Writer
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What she’s known for: Saved by the Bell
Voorhies played Lisa on the NBC teen comedy classic Saved by the Bell, from 1989 to 1993. She had other acting parts over the years, including in a Saved reboot. After leaving acting, she became an author of three books.
Michael Maronna – Electrician
What he’s known for: The Adventures of Pete & Pete
He played big Pete on the classic Nickelodeon series The Adventures of Pete & Pete and also played Kevin McCallister’s older brother in Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Today, he still works in Hollywood, but as an electrician for TV and film production.
George Foreman – Entrepreneur
What he’s known for: Boxing career
Foreman went from being one of the most elite boxers in the world to pitching an iconic product in infomercials. His George Foreman Grills have gone on to earn him hundreds of millions of dollars. It definitely beats getting pummeled in the ring!
Kirk Cameron – Minister
What he’s known for: Growing Pains
This former teen star’s character of Mike Seaver in Growing Pains might have had a talent for mischief. But, today, Kirk Cameron’s primary mission is Christian ministry.
Hank Aaron – Entrepreneur
What he’s known for: Baseball career
Hank Aaron was the all-time home run king of Major League Baseball when he broke Babe Ruth’s career record of 714 homers in 1974. After his retirement, Aaron franchised more than a dozen Arby’s restaurants in Milwaukee and has since opened car dealerships and fast food restaurants in the Atlanta area.