Celebrity news is a huge business. From weekly tabloid magazines, to news shows devoted to entertainment, to websites that practically stalk celebrities’ every move, the general public loves to know everything about their favourite famous people. According to some celebrities, “no publicity is bad publicity,” and they will do anything to get their names in the news. But a lot of household names prefer to do their best to stay out of the news.
There are lots of more private celebrities, for example, Kerry Washington has chosen to keep the name of her newborn son, out of the media. But she still considers doing interviews and attending red carpet events and premieres, a part of her job. Not all celebrities feel the need to promote themselves, and prefer to let their work speak for itself. There is private, and then there is reclusive. These 10 celebrities not only prefer to stay out of the public eye, but are much happier living the majority of their lives behind closed doors.
Widely considered one of the greatest living novelists today, Cormac McCarthy is not the type of author you can follow on Twitter. Even though film adaptations of his novels, No Country for Old Men, and The Road have made him more of a household name, he still prefers to avoid large book signing events, and rarely does interviews. He did however attend the Academy Award ceremony where the 2007 film adaptation of No Country for Old Men won Best Picture. He also did his first television interview with Oprah around the same time. Considering that to make it as a novelist today, you have to be active on social media, McCarthy has done just fine without the constant self promotion.
You may know the name Howard Hughes from the 2004 film, The Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Hughes was a successful aviator and businessman, but was also very eccentric. After a couple near-fatal plane crashes, he started to descend into mental illness. He is said to have suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder, and allodynia, which is a condition that causes pain from a stimulus that doesn’t normally cause pain, such as wearing clothes and bathing. His declining personal hygiene, and germophobia made him increasingly reclusive, until he vanished completely from the public eye. He continued to run his real estate and business empire from a hotel suite, and it was discovered he hadn’t even opened the drapes in the 9 years he lived there.
American poet, Emily Dickinson, was never really in the spotlight during her lifetime. Most of her poetry (except for 12 poems) was published after her death in 1886, because she never intended or hoped to become famous from her work. She kept her poems edited and well organized, which made it easy for her sister, Lavinia, to combine the nearly 1800 poems into collections. Although her reasons for being reclusive cannot be confirmed, scholars speculate she suffered from agoraphobia and epilepsy. But Dickinson was the most productive after she had withdrawn from public life, and today she is considered one of the most important poets of all time.
Australian singer-songwriter, Sia Furler has written songs for the biggest pop stars in the world, including Rihanna, Celine Dion, and Beyonce, but she is starting to become a household name through her own music. The only problem with her growing fame, is that it comes with public performances. Sia would much rather keep her face out of the media, so she has been using creativity to promote her album, but still remain mysterious. In a recent performance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, she sang her latest hit, Chandelier, while face down on a bunk bed, while Lena Dunham danced around the stage and lip synced.
Silent film starlet, Greta Garbo, was a household name in the 1920’s and 30’s, during which she was nominated for three Academy Awards. She may have been a gifted actress, but she was never interested in the fame that came along with Hollywood. She never attended a single Oscar ceremony, not even in 1954 when she was awarded an honorary Oscar. Garbo retired from acting in 1941, at the young age of 35, because she was unhappy being in the public eye. She refused the many parts she was offered, never signed autographs, or answered fan mail.
Once a wild and flamboyant live performer, and probably one of the biggest musicians in the world, David Bowie has recently turned his back on fame. Despite fans begging for a comeback, Bowie has announced no plans to ever return to the spotlight. He did release a new album in 2013 entitled The Next Day, but has made it clear that he won’t be doing any interviews, or going on tour. Music is still a part of his life, but he is at the point where he doesn’t need to tour the world to promote himself, and would rather live a quiet life in England, with his wife Iman, and daughter, Alexandria.
After his novel Catcher in the Rye became a bestseller, Salinger chose to withdraw from the spotlight, and became increasingly reclusive. As his novel’s popularity, and interest in him grew, he became less and less willing to make public appearances. He gave his last interview in 1980, and in 1986, he sued biographer, Ian Hamilton, to prevent him from reprinting letters he had sent to fans and friends. In June 2009, 90-year-old Salinger emerged from hiding one more time to sue a writer who was working on an “unauthorized sequel to Catcher in the Rye“. Most information available on Salinger comes from court transcripts and the memoir written by his daughter, Margaret. He died in 2010, at the age of 91.
Like a lot of rock bands, Guns N’ Roses started to disintegrate in the mid-90’s. Lead singer Axl Rose fired Gilby Clarke, and hired his replacement without consulting the rest of the band, which led to further conflict. Although the band never officially broke up, they stopped touring, and Rose retreated from the public eye. He was widely referred to as “rock’s greatest recluse” and “the Howard Hughes of rock”, because he spent most of his time at home, and rarely made public appearances. He has since released the album, Chinese Democracy, and been inducted to the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, but he didn’t even show up at the induction ceremony.
The National Book Award-winning author of Gravity’s Rainbow, has always been a private person. Little is known about his early life, and there are only a few photos of him available to the public. He has mentioned he does not like being photographed or talking to reporters, and he prefers to let his work speak for itself, rather than promote it tirelessly. His reputation for being reclusive, even led to one speculation that Pynchon and JD Salinger were one in the same. Pynchon responded with “Not bad. Keep trying.”
Harper Lee‘s one and only published novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, was all it took to make her a literary legend. But the success of her book brought a lot of unwanted attention her way. She has been awarded honorary degrees from various colleges, but rarely attends the ceremonies. She has declined numerous invitations to speak, and rarely gives interviews. She did write a letter to Oprah, describing her love of books and writing, but never appeared on the show. She said her reasons for never writing another book were “I wouldn’t go through the pressure and publicity I went through with To Kill a Mockingbird for any amount of money. Second, I have said what I wanted to say, I will not say it again.”
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