With the announced retirement of child pop star, Justin Beiber, one has to wonder what makes a celebrity retire before the age of 70, possibly later. Do they get sick of the way fame treats them? Do they decide their paths lie elsewhere? What could be the reason for successful actors giving up wealth, fame and the joy of acting?
This article will list 10 celebrities who retired early i.e. before the age of retirement, ranking them from oldest to youngest. As many celebrities announce retirement multiple times, this list will rank celebrities by the first times they retired.
10 Michael Jordan
His Airness first retired at the age of 30 to play baseball, a long-time loved sport of his deceased father. He played for two years, and then came out of retirement at 32, rejoining his old team, the Chicago Bulls. After playing for another three years, achieving the 6th NBA championship for the Bulls and his own 6th MVP award, Jordan retired for a second time. In 2000, Jordan became the part owner and President of Basketball Operations for the Washington Wizards. A year later, he came out of retirement again to play for the Wizards, and did so for another three years before retiring for good as a basketball player. He engaged in charitable endeavors, set up the Jordan Brand clothing line and bought a minority stake in the Charlotte Bobcats, becoming Managing Member of Basketball Operations. In 2010, he became the majority owner.
9 Greta Garbo
Swedish actress Greta Garbo was one of the few actors able to make the transition from silent films to “talkies”. The woman best known for her roles as Anna Karenina, Madame Camille and Mata Hari, began her acting career at the age of 19, not knowing a word of English. She made up for it with a unique subtlety of expression that fascinated audiences. She made 28 films before retiring in humiliation at age 36 with the flop Two-Faced Woman. She rejected several roles offered to her because she was “tired of Hollywood”. She shunned the spotlight, refusing to sign autographs, answer fan mail and even giving very few interviews while being a successful actress, and she continued this behavior well after her retirement. She passed away in 1990, without a spouse or children.
8 Kal Penn
Born Kalpen Suresh Modi, this actor rose to fame as Kumar Patel in the Harold and Kumar film series, as Dr. Lawrence Kutner on House and his work in The Namesake. While he prefers his birth name, Penn knew that Anglicized names were more appealing to the white-dominated acting field and so uses the name Kal Penn, as an actor only. In 2009, Penn joined the Obama administration as an Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement. As a result, his role as Lawrence Kutner had to be written out of House. Since then, Penn has moved between acting and his role with the White House. In 2010, he resigned his post to film the third installment of the Harold and Kumar series, and after that, returned to the White House. In 2011, he left again to act on the show How I Met Your Mother, after which Penn returned to the White House and also serves on the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
7 Deanna Durbin
A singer and actress from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Deanna Durbin made her first film appearance as an actress with MGM alongside none other than Judy Garland at the age of 15 in 1936. She signed with Universal Studios as a result of her contract with MGM expiring that year, and was credited with saving them from going bankrupt. Mainly given “girl-next-door” roles, Durbin wanted to portray a more sophisticated woman, as she grew older. Unfortunately, those films did not prove to be as successful as her previous roles. Subsequently, Durbin retired at age 28 from both singing and acting. She was well known for disliking the Hollywood system and spoke of Deanna Durbin the third person, seeing her old life as part of her youth and not her adult life. She refused all requests for performances until her death in April 2013 at the age of 91 in France.
6 Amanda Bynes
Rising to prominence as a child star on the Nickelodeon series All That and The Amanda Show, Amanda Bynes was well known for her comedic acting. She carried on acting in films like What a Girl Wants, She’s the Man, Hairspray and Easy A, but gained a reputation in 2012 for driving under the influence and hit and runs. She was ruled incapable of giving informed consent to medical care and, on doctors’ recommendation, Bynes’ parents had her transferred from UCLA Medical Center to a private facility. She was released in 2013 and enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles for the 2014 year.
5 Justin Bieber
Starting out on Youtube, Justin Bieber was discovered at age 14 by his to-be manager, Scooter Braun, was signed to Raymond Braun Media Group and, subsequently, to an Island Records recording contract from L.A. Reid. He was an instant success. As of May 2012, Bieber sold 15 million albums and has a global fan base of “Beliebers”. In recent years, however, Bieber has been ticketed for exceeding the speed limit to get away from photographers, had his pet capuchin monkey confiscated by customs on his way into Germany, swearing at a photographer in London, angered the media by writing that he hoped Anne Frank would have been a Belieber in the Anne Frank House and is currently being sued by Devin Copeland for $10 million. His retirement was announced this December but is still unconfirmed.
4 Mara Wilson
Best known for her role as Matilda Wormwood in the film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel Matilda, Mara Wilson began acting at age 5 in Mrs. Doubtfire and in the remake of Miracle on 34th Street. She won the ShoWest Award for “Young Star of the Year”, which resulted in Danny DeVito casting her as Matilda. She ended her career at age 15, in 2000, after starring in Thomas and the Magic Railroad, turning her focus to school rather than acting, graduating from NYU and getting a job with Publicolor. She hopes to break into young adult novels, has written her first Off Broadway play called “Sheeple” and has written an entry for Cracked.com that covered her opinion on the delinquency of some former child stars. She has appeared on thatguywiththeglasses.com as herself and has a recurring role on the podcast Welcome to Night Vale.
3 Macaulay Culkin
Macaulay Culkin was an internationally famous child star at age 10 with the release of Home Alone. Though it wasn’t his first role and he had begun acting at age 4, this was the role that put him on the map, and resulted in a sequel, Home Alone 2. Unfortunately, the films after that didn’t do as well as the Home Alone movies, Uncle Buck or My Girl. He retired from the age of 14 to 20, after which he returned to acting on the West end, and to television and film acting three years later. He became much more selective with his roles. He was also well known for his friendship with and defense of Michael Jackson, even appearing in Jackson’s “Black or White” music video. In 2012, he explained, in a Youtube video, that he turned his New York apartment into a painting workshop.
2 Peter Ostrum
Peter Ostrum has only one film role on his resume, but it’s a notable one – Charlie Bucket in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in 1971 at age 14. After that, he returned to focus on school. He auditioned for several roles in his senior year of high school, but after not receiving any responses, he decided to discontinue pursuing an acting career. Instead, he decided to pursue a degree in Veterinary Medicine and received his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1984. While that is his main source of income, he does occasionally attend conventions and appears in reunions of the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory cast.
1 Brittany Ashton Holmes
Most people remember Darla from "The Little Rascals", a role played by then actress Brittany Ashton Holmes, her first Hollywood role in fact. Lucky enough to land the famous role, this actress went on to make a couple television show appearances such as 'Red Shoe Diaries' and 'Ellen' (the sitcom) as well as some lesser known movies like"Inhumanoid". Holmes hasn't acted since 1996.
Mills has no intention of going back to the world of acting, writing on her MySpace page “I was an actress when I was little, and did this movie called Little Rascals. It’s like really embarrassing to watch, and I don’t want to act any more”. Little is known about Brittany's current situation, she was last reported to be working at a local Starbucks.
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