Showbiz is tough. Some celebrities who find stardom quickly fade away. Others who find success in Hollywood decide that the lifestyle just isn't for them. But regardless of how and why these ex-celebs ended up walking away from the spotlight, they all have one thing in common: they decided to find normal jobs afterwards that just might surprise you.
Karen Allen is best known for portraying the iconic Marion Ravenwood character in the Indiana Jones franchise. Although she still occasionally returns to the silver screen to reprise her famed character, she now mostly makes a living as an acting teacher and owner of a textile company based in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
Owens is a former star of the hit sitcom The Cosby Show who faded out of the entertainment industry and ended up bagging groceries at a Trader Joe’s in Clifton, New Jersey. When asked about his new gig, Owens said “There’s no job better than another… every job is worthwhile.”
Dylan and his twin brother Cole enjoyed some time in the spotlight as child actors featured in the series The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, as well as the Adam Sandler comedy Big Daddy. Since leaving acting, Sprouse has become a businessman and brewer, opening the All-Wise Meadery in Brooklyn, New York.
Cates had a wildly successful career as an actor in the 1980s, starring in memorable films such as Fast Times and Ridgemont High and Gremlins. After marrying fellow actor Kevin Kline, she decided to dedicate more time to raising her kids and stepped away from the spotlight. She also opened a boutique in Manhattan.
The legendary baseball player Hank Aaron, widely considered one of the best in his sport, decided to pursue a career in business after he stopped hitting dingers. He started buying up franchised fast food businesses, such as Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Church’s Chicken, and Krispy Kreme. He also spent some time working behind the scenes in baseball and penned a memoir about his life and career.
Nicknamed “Mo” and “the Sandman,” Mariano Rivera is easily one of the greatest closing pitchers in baseball history, having won five World Series rings during his illustrious playing career. Since retiring from the big leagues, Mo has opened up Toyota and Honda car dealerships in the suburbs outside New York City.
Moranis enjoyed great success as a comedic actor, often portraying nerdy characters in movies such as Ghostbusters, Little Shop of Horrors, and Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. After the tragic and untimely death of his wife in 1997, Moranis dedicated himself to become a full-time dad. He’s also continued to pick up a few acting gigs here and there over the years.
The rapper responsible for the massive hit “Ice Ice Baby” faded out of the music business after struggling to generate another hit. So Ice, real name Rob Van Winkle, turned to the real estate game. He became a home renovator and flipper whose new job resulted in a TV show called The Vanilla Ice Project.
Best known for playing police officer Frank Poncherello in the television series CHiPs, Estrada decided to become the real deal once he left the entertainment industry. Poncherello was sworn in as a police reserve officer in Idaho. In his new role, he helps the department protect children from online predators.
As one of the original cast members of the hit reality show Jersey Shore, Pivarnick was quickly launched into stardom. But when she decided that showbiz wasn’t the right path for her, she became an EMT for the Fire Department of New York. Despite her new job, Pivarnick ocassionally returns to television for old time’s sake.
As the character Chunk in The Goonies, Jeff Cohen became immortalized in popular culture. Like many child actors, he drifted away from the spotlight over time but decided to remain in the entertainment industry. He became an entertainment lawyer and co-founded the Beverly Hills-based law firm Cohen Gardner LLP.
As an actor, Charlie Korsmo made waves with a role in Steven Spielberg’s Hook, as well as the raunchy teen comedy Can’t Hardly Wait. After some time working in Hollywood, Korsmo decided to take a different path entirely. He became a law professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.
Co-starring alongside Jack Nicholson in a Stanley Kubrick film would be a dream for most actors. Yet, Lloyd did it at a young age when he played Danny in the classic horror film The Shining. Perhaps deciding to go out at the top of his game, Lloyd left showbiz and is now a teacher and farmer.
If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, there’s no way you could ever forget the snarling, wicked face of King Joffrey. In fact, that evil face belongs to actor Jack Gleeson, who despite his sudden fame, decided to retire from acting at the tender age of 21. He enrolled at Trinity College, where he studied theology and philosophy.
Few actors made a bigger impact on people’s childhoods than Ostrum in his role as the boy who discovered the last golden ticket in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. After landing a role in such an iconic film, Ostrum decided his true passion was treating animals, not pursuing stardom. Ostrum studied at Cornell before becoming a veterinarian in upstate New York.
Who could forget Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez in the comedy classic The Sandlot? Vitar’s portrayal of the young baseball superstar is forever burned into the memories of movie fans. Vitar ultimately decided he’d rather save lives than stay in entertainment. After picking up a few more acting roles, Vitar became a firefighter in Los Angeles.
Josh portrayed the nerdy best friend Paul Pfieffer in the classic TV series The Wonder Years. Although a talented actor, it turns out Saviano wasn’t pretending to be smart. He went on to study political science at Yale, then became a partner in a law firm. He also founded the entertainment firm Spotlight Advisory Group.
Taran Noah Smith
You might have seen Smith in his role as Mark Taylor in the hit sitcom Home Improvement. After working on a show about tools and hardware, Smith put his knowledge to good use and entered the construction field. Smith then put his construction skills to even better use when he helped with storm recovery efforts in Texas.
Michael Maronna was a constant presence in the lives of kids who grew up in the '90s. He co-starred in the Nickelodeon series The Adventures of Pete & Pete, as well as the hit films Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. After acting, Maronna began working behind the scenes as an electrician for Hollywood productions.
A former star of Saved By the Bell: The New Class, Lidsky has had a diverse and fascinating life post-Hollywood. He enrolled in Harvard at the tender age of 15 and studied computer science and applied mathematics. He then worked as a clerk for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. He’s also founded several businesses, including a Florida-based construction firm.
As the young boy Bastian in the 80s fantasy classic The NeverEnding Story, Barret Oliver forever solidified a place for himself in movie history. While he contiuned to find success as a child actor, Oliver decided to turn his attention to the art world, as a specialist in 19th century photography and print techniques.
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Perhaps one of the most famous young actresses for nearly a decade, Sarah Michelle Gellar made her mark on TV history with a lead role in Joss Wheadon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When her acting career cooled down, Gellar started a second career as the founder of a culinary food startup.
Lana Del Rey
Why Lana Del Rey just worked a shift at a Waffle House in Alabama is anyone’s guess, but it may have something to do with promoting her latest album. Her recently released song Paris, Texas mentions Florence, Alabama, which is where she was spotted by fans. One thing is for sure, blue is definitely her color!
The last place you might expect to see a big celebrity is the grocery store, which is why customers at a Hy-Vee location in Iowa were recently stunned to see television host David Letterman bagging groceries! The reason behind his visit may be to support the grocery chain, which Letterman has expressed his love for. But judging by the photos the chain posted, maybe David just wanted to taste test the soup before he left the store.
Carrie Henn was discovered by casting agents in the cafeteria of an Air Force Base, which lead to her big break as Newt in Aliens. Although the film was a huge success, she never returned to on camera acting. According to Wired, she is currently a teacher in Northern California.
McKellar acted alongside her sister Danica in The Wonder Years, but after the show ended she focused on her education. McKellar studied at Yale and Oxford before earning her J.D. at Harvard. Today she works as the managing directed and legal counsel for Mithril Capital Management.
Jeffrey Allen "Skunk" Baxter
Despite being a founding member of the band Steely Dan and performing with The Doobie Brothers and Spirit, Baxter transitioned into an unusual line of work. He is now a defense consultant for the U.S. Department of Defense after a fascination with military software lead him to write a paper on missile defense in the ‘80s.
Omri Katz graces TV screen around the world every year when Hocus Pocus airs during the month of October, but he’s been out of the acting business since 2002. After appearing in shows like Dallas and Freaks and Geeks, Katz transitioned to hairdressing and he now owns and operates a cannabis company.
Steven Anthony Lawrence
While many people may remember Steven Anthony Lawrence from his stints on Disney Channel shows like Even Stevens, they probably haven't seen him on their screen recently. While he primarily teaches acting to young actors, he was also recently spotted working as one of Santa's helpers at a shopping mall in 2015.
Erik von Detten
Erik von Detten used to be a main feature of Disney Channel in the '90s. From Brink to So Weird and Toy Story, von Detten was featured in tons of Disney classics. But he hasn't been seen on camera since 2008, opting instead to focus on raising a family with his wife Angela, a Los Angeles real estate agent.
Cameron was one of the most recognizable TV stars of the 1980s, thanks to his portrayal of Mike Seaver in the sitcom Growing Pains. As he drifted out of entertainment, he found a new calling as a preacher and missionary. In the early 2000s, he founded a ministry called Way of the Master.
As the star of Malcolm in the Middle, Frankie Muniz became one of the biggest young actors in Hollywood for a number of years. But he was interested in more than just being a thespian. In 2007, he ditched TV to become a race car driver. He’s found success in his new daredevil profession, winning several races and competing in the Atlantic Championship.
The star of the 2007 film adaptation of Hairspray, Nikki Blonsky ended up with a job that was both surprising and, given the title of her biggest film role, totally predictable. After staring in Hairspray, Blonsky moved back to her home state of New York to become a hair stylist.
You might not believe this but the rapper best known for the hit single “U Can’t Touch This” is now an ordained minister. After experiencing some financial issues following his success in music, Hammer decided to pursue a holier lifestyle. The “MC” is his name now stands for “Man of Christ.”
Once a big movie star in his younger years and now the star of the longrunning CBS cop drama Blue Bloods, Tom Selleck also has a unique side gig as an avocado farmer. The actor owns a 60-acre ranch in California, where he oversees the growing and selling of tasty avocados.
Anakin Skywalker himself landed one of the biggest roles in film history before deciding to pursue a quieter lifestyle. After Star Wars, Christensen purchased a farm in Ontario, Canada and became a farmer. He still acts from time to time, most memorably reprising his role as Anakin in the Obi-Wan Kenobi series.
Ali MacGraw is one of the most legendary figures of the 1970s New Hollywood era that spawned countless big name actors, writers, and directors. Aside from being an accomplished actress, her personal life was also tabloid fodder thanks to romantic relationships with Robert Evans and Steve McQueen. Later in life, Ali became a yoga teacher.
MC Hammer isn’t the only former rapper who found a new life as an ordained minister. Kurtis Blow was a hip hop pioneer, best known for his hit song “The Breaks,” who turned his talents towards religion when he founded The Hip Hop Church in Harlem, New York City.
As a former GQ model and then star of the teen classic Sixteen Candles, Michael Schoeffling made a big impact on the industry before retiring to pursue an entirely different career. Today, Schoeffling is the owner of woodworking shop in Pennsylvania, where makes handcrafted furniture for his starstruck clients.
Any fan of Wizards of Waverly Place will know the character Harper Finkle, played brilliantly by former actress Jennifer Stone. In her 20s, while in the midst of her acting career, Stone was diagnosed with latent autoimmune diabetes. Stone decided to quit the acting game and dedicated her life to helping others as a nurse.
Monica is a singer with a long and fruitful multi-decade career, spanning from the 1990s up to the 2010s. After finding so much success in music, Monica decided to do a 180 and become a forensic scientist. In a social media post, the former singer said she pursued forensic science to help families during one of the most difficult times in their lives.
One of the most celebrated actors in film history, Gene Hackman has long since retired from acting. Not content to simply lay around, he embarked on a new career as a novelist. Hackman has authored a total of five historical fiction novels, three of them co-authored with an undersea archeologist.
Mr. Hackman isn’t the only former superstar to turn his attention to the written word. Legendary basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabar has spent much of his post-basketball career as a writer. Abdul-Jabar has authored more than a dozen books and regularly writes op-ed columns for the Hollywood Reporter.
A former star of the reality series The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Phaedra Parks has chosen a highly unusual and unexpected second career: funeral director. Known for having a keen interest in business, Parks believed the change in jobs was a smart career move. Prior to being on TV, Parks was an attorney at her own law firm.
As the eldest brother of the wildly successful music group Jonas Brothers, Kevin has continued to enjoy huge success in the music world. But when he’s not performing, Kevin has a second career as a contractor in suburban New Jersey, where he co-owns a custom home building company.
Cameron Diaz was one of the biggest movie stars in the world for nearly a decade, known for starring in comedies and action films. After getting married and giving birth, Diaz decided to slow her life down a bit and retired from acting. But she’s since launched a couple other part-time careers, as both an author and the owner of an organic wine company.
In the role of Topanga in both Boy Meets World and Girl Meets World, Danielle Fishel rocketed to stardom at a young age. Although she has slowed down her acting roles, she hasn’t left the industry entirely. Nowadays, Fishel is an entertainment reporter and podcast host who still sometimes finds the time for a few acting gigs.
As the youngest star of the hit sitcom Two and a Half Men, Angus Jones became a successful working actor while still just a child. At the age of 21, he decided to stop acting and focus instead on work being done behind the camera. Nowadays, Jones manages a production company.
You’d be hard pressed to find a bigger child actor than Mara Wilson, co-star of the hit films Mrs. Doubtfire, Miracle on 34th Street, and Matilda. After a busy youth in front of the camera, Wilson decided to shift gears and become a writer. She’s since written three books, the most recent of which was just released in 2023.
Tara Reid made her mark in Hollywood in classic films such as American Pie and The Big Lebowski. As her acting career began to slow down, she branched out into an unexpected line of work. In the mid-2000s, Reid was a part-owner of three restaurants in Los Angeles. She later opened her own fast food joint called Ketchup.
In the role of Lex Murphy in Steven Spielberg’s classic blockbuster Jurassic Park, Ariana Richards ensured we’d never look at green Jell-O the same way again. After deciding to leave show business, Richards studied art at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. She is now a successful painter living in Oregon.
In her role as Hillary Banks in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Karyn Parsons beguiled an entire generation of 90s kids. But despite her character’s superficial outlook on life, Parsons herself is devoted to helping others. After largely ditching the acting game, she is now the founder of the creative non-profit organization Sweet Blackberry.
At one point, Shyne was best known as a rapper who scored a couple big hits in the early 2000s. But after deciding to put away the mic, he’s since become a prominent politician in his home country of Belize, where he is now the leader of the Belize United Democratic Party.
Reality TV star Danielle Colby is probably best known for being featured in the History channel series American Pickers. But outside of the TV industry, she’s had some interesting secondary careers. She was once the owner of a female roller derby team called The Big Mouth Mickies, as well as the owner of a clothing company. These days, she performs as a burlesque dancer.
A former star of the short-lived but spectacular Bravo reality series Princesses: Long Island, Casey Cohen also received some attention for allegedly having an affair with Jay-Z (a rumor she has denied). Outside of the entertainment world, Cohen has made her mark as a physical fitness trainer and health expert.
The iconic martial artist and star of Walker, Texas Ranger was one of the biggest action stars of the 80s and 90s. When his film roles started to become less frequent, Norris took up a second career, designed to utilize his self-defense skills to help youngsters. Norris is now the founder of a nonprofit called Kickstart Kids.
This celebrated crooner and member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame had a string of hits throughout the 1970s, including “Take Me To The River” and “Let’s Stay Together.” But Green responded to a higher calling when he left secular music behind and became the pastor of a church near Memphis.
As “The Sherminator” in the American Pie franchise, Chris Owen became well-known for his comedic talents. As his career continued, however, and offers started to come in less frequently, he began supporting his career as a waiter in a sushi restaurant in Los Angeles. Owen said the job allowed him to continue pursuing acting.