Actors Who Retired Far Earlier Than Anyone Expected

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People change careers all the time. But when a famous actor does it, it can be a bit surprising. Who would give up the fame and all the money that goes with it? Especially if it’s at a young age?

To compile a list of actors who retired way earlier than everyone expected, 24/7 Tempo reviewed information on career paths on IMDb, an online movie and TV database owned by Amazon, and other film business-oriented sites. Many actors have retired and then resumed their careers, but with one exception, this list includes only those performers who have definitively retired and moved on to other occupations or pursuits – though some have teased possible returns to the screen.    

Amanda Bynes and Gwyneth Paltrow, for instance, said that they may revive their former careers. (Will they join the ranks of movie stars who came out of retirement to act again?)

Actors turn their backs on show business for varied reasons. Some, like child actor Mara Wilson, grew weary of the constant attention and preferred a quieter life away from the limelight. For others, it was the pull of family. Cinema icon Cary Grant gave it all up to raise his only daughter. Lisa Bonet did the same in choosing family over career. Others went into something completely different. Child star Shirley Temple made an improbable switch – into politics – as did Dolores Hart, who became a Roman Catholic nun.

Then there are those who go out on top. Daniel Day-Lewis retired at age 60 after winning his third Academy Award, for playing Abraham Lincoln. But he left behind a memorable film catalog, and still ranks as one of the biggest Oscar winners of all time.

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