30 Celebs Who Stepped Out of the Spotlight for Normal Jobs

By Milo B. Jenkins
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Photo Courtesy: Imagine Entertainment/IMDB

The glamorous life that comes with success in showbiz looks like it comes with many perks. Everyone wants to have fame, fortune, and join Hollywood’s elite, right?

But for some stars from movies, TV, sports, and music, the opportunities may have dried up, or the spotlight simply got boring. Many former A-listers have walked away from show business and found other, sometimes bizarre jobs. Check out these 30 stars who are now cops, fitness instructors, or yes, even strippers. 

Kirk Cameron, Pastor

In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, it was impossible to find a teeny bopper’s bedroom wall that didn’t have Kirk Cameron’s face plastered on it. Cameron played the mischievous Mike Seaver in the popular show Growing Pains, and was a star on the rise. Once the show wrapped, he could have had a cemented place in Hollywood for years to come. 

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Instead, Cameron has turned his focus away from show business and focuses on his Evangelical Christian faith. He currently produces Christian-based films and offers a service to teach others how to express their faith effectively through an online series of “Courage Courses”.

Phoebe Cates, Boutique Owner

In 1982, Phoebe Cates made a major splash as the bikini-clad Linda Barrett in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. It helped open the door for Cates to land a leading role in other ‘80s screwball comedies like Private School and Gremlins.

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Photo Courtesy: Refugee Films/IMDB

Cates’ last acting role was in 2001, but in 2005 she focused her attention on opening a chic, NYC boutique named Blue Tree. The women’s clothing and jewelry shop promises in its description to "...always re-invent and recreate in the hopes of delighting." 

Kris Humphries, Fast Food Franchiser

Standing at 6’9, Humphries towered over his competitors in the NBA from 2004 to 2017. While he may be a known quantity in the sports world, the majority of us most likely recognize him for his highly publicized, 72-day marriage to Kim Kardashian.

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Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

After his basketball career (and marriage) came to an end, Humphries left the spotlight for his native Minnesota. He's since dabbled in both real estate and franchising several Five Guys fast-food restaurants. After a marriage to Kim Kardashian, there’s definitely no shame in hiding behind a deep fryer. 

Freddie Prinze, Jr., Chef

A teen heartthrob of the late ‘90s, Prinze, Jr. was the lead in several ensemble films throughout the era. Who can forget his rom-com role as Zack Siler, the big man on campus with a heart of gold in 2001’s She’s All That?

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Photo Courtesy: FilmColony/IMDB

The real dish on Prinze, Jr.’s career is served in his 2016 cookbook titled Back to the Kitchen. In it, he not only offers some of his favorite recipes, but he discloses that he was considering going to culinary school before becoming an actor.

Al Green, Pastor

Iconic soul singer Al Green has given us all the feels with hits like "Let’s Stay Together", "I’m Still in Love with You", and "You Ought to Be with Me". His classic, sultry voice helped him sell millions of records and earn him 11 Grammy Awards over his career.

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Photo Courtesy: @algreen/Twitter

After a traumatic argument with a girlfriend in 1974, Green stopped recording sultry, romantic soul music. Two years later, he became an ordained pastor at the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Memphis, Tennessee. Since then, he's focused on gospel music that has failed to perform as well as his previous work.

George Foreman, Grillmaster

“Big George” boasts an impressive boxing career spanning almost 30 years. Throughout his boxing career, he held countless heavyweight titles, and even won himself a gold medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics. He competed in the historic Rumble in the Jungle boxing match against Muhammad Ali in 1974, which had an estimated 1 billion viewers worldwide.

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Photo Courtesy: @GeorgeForeman/Twitter

But his second chapter is where things really started cooking. In 1994, George released the George Foreman Grill, the portable electronic grill that sold in over 100 million homes. Based on profit predictions, Foreman has amassed a $200 million fortune by lending his name to the grill, outweighing his earnings as a boxer. 

Frankie Muniz, Race Car Driver

Best known for playing the title character on Malcolm in the Middle, Muniz spent many of his younger years in major film and television roles. An Emmy and two Golden Globe nominations later, Muniz felt it was time to take a break from the limelight and focus on his other interests. 

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Those interests involved four wheels and major adrenaline. Muniz started to pursue a professional race car career in 2007 just as Malcom in the Middle finished its run. Sadly, right when his racing career was picking up speed, a series of injuries put the breaks on his tenure as a professional racer. 

Danielle Fishel, Journalist

Topanga Lawrence, the bushy-haired hippie turned popular overachiever on Boy Meets World was brought to life by Fishel’s big smile and bright eyes. The show was her biggest role to date, and Topanga lived on in the short-lived series Girl Meets World, which followed Topanga’s daughter and their Disney-level family hijinks. 

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Photo Courtesy: Michael Jacobs Productions/IMDB

After the show wrapped, Fishel has yet to find a role that matches Topanga's notoriety. In the meantime, Fishel has had an ongoing job as a reporter for the website PopSugar and also helps manage its YouTube channel. Girl Meets Online World doesn’t have as nice a ring to it, but good for her anyway!

Shaquille O’Neal, Police Officer

7’1” basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal took his career to great heights while playing Center for 6 NBA teams over his 19-year career. He also made a name for himself as an actor and a surprisingly successful rapper during his heyday.

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Photo Courtesy: Happy Madison Productions/Gulfstream Pictures/Karz Entertainment/Ratpac-Dune Entertainment/IMDB

Shaq later took his interest in law enforcement to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Reserve Academy and became an officer with the Los Angeles Port Police. He also became a reserve officer in Miami, Florida and later a sheriff’s deputy in Jonesboro, Georgia.  

Jim Carrey, Painter

In the 1990s, no screwball comedy was complete without featuring Jim Carrey. Blockbusters like Dumb & Dumber, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and The Mask all showcased Carrey’s infectious energy and rubber facial expressions. His comedic prowess allowed him to explore more dramatic roles later on in films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Truman Show.

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Photo Courtesy: New Line Productions/Dark Horse Entertainment/IMDB

In the last few years, Carrey has taken a back seat from major film roles to focus his time on his painting. His bold color choices make for fantastic paintings, and he’s showed many of his pieces at high end galleries. Don't forget to check his Twitter feed for some of his more...colorful social commentary.

Tiffany, Shop Owner

In the 1980s, shopping malls were synonymous with two things: teenagers and Tiffany. Tiffany Darwish established herself as a mononymous pop star in the late 80’s with catchy songs like "I Think We’re Alone Now" and "Could’ve Been".

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Photo Courtesy: @tiffanytunes/Twitter

While shopping malls continued to rule the lives of teenagers, Tiffany didn’t fare as well. Her follow-up albums sold less and less, so she did what any good mall rat would do: she opened up her own store. Tiffany opened Tiffany’s Boutique in downtown Nashville, Tennessee and sold vintage-inspired clothing until it closed in late 2015. 

Vanilla Ice, House Flipper

Vanilla Ice immortalized himself in 1990 with "Ice, Ice, Baby", a song that may or may not have sampled the bassline from Queen’s "Under Pressure". Controversy aside, it was the first hip-hop song to top the Billboard charts and is credited with bringing hip-hop to the mainstream airwaves.

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Photo Courtesy: Sharp Entertainment/IMDB

Ice was never able to repeat the same success, so he put down the mic and picked up a hammer. That’s right, Vanilla Ice is now an accomplished house flipper. He has made a comfortable living buying properties and renovating homes on his reality show, The Vanilla Ice Project. Pretty cool, Ice.   

Jimmy Yang, Party Bus Operator

Known for his signature Fu Manchu mustache, blue jeans, and cowboy hat, Jimmy Wang Yang was a highlight in the WWE wrestling world. From 1999 to 2010, Yang dazzled wrestling rings around the country with his acrobatic and patriotic displays of wrestling starpower.

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Photo Courtesy: @wweLovatic4ever/Twitter

After his wrestling career, Jimmy purchased an elaborately decorated Redneck Party Bus and drove it throughout Cincinnati, OH. For a rental fee, he’ll drive the tricked out party bus for groups of people who want to tailgate sporting events or simply travel in questionable style. 

Gene Hackman, Author

Gene Hackman is a film legend that has starred in over 80 films throughout his career. He has collected two Academy Awards, four Golden Globes, and other major accolades throughout his over 60-year career in films like The French Connection, The Poseidon Adventure, and Unforgiven.

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Photo Courtesy: Touchstone Pictures/American Empirical Pictures/IMDB

After six decades and monumental success onscreen, Hackman officially retired from acting in 2004 to pursue a career in historical fiction. He has since written five novels that take place in various times in American history, from the wild west to the Great Depression. Based on his many film roles, storytelling seems like a well suited path for the legendary film star. 

Nikki Blonksy, Cosmetologist

Nikki Blonsky made a major impact as the lead character in 2007’s Hairspray. It was a debut role that should have launched her into stardom, but Blonsky found it difficult to repeat her status as a lead actress years later. 

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Blonsky earned her cosmetology license in 2011, and works part-time doing hair and make-up for others between auditions. It may not be as glamorous as starring in a movie about hairspray with John Travolta and Michelle Pfeiffer, but it's a living, nonetheless.  

Kerri Strug, White House Appointee

In the 1996 Summer Olympics, Kerri Strug shook the gymnastics floor with her now legendary vault routine. The world was stunned when an injured Strug managed to land a perfect vault routine and claimed gold for the American gymnastics team.

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Photo Courtesy: Taylor Hill/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

After retirement, Strug moved to Washington, D.C. in 2003, where she worked as a staff assistant with the White House Office of Presidential Student Correspondence. She eventually worked her way up the ranks and joined the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention staff as a presidential appointee.  

Willa Ford, Interior Designer

In the early 2000’s, blonde pop stars hit the music scene in a major way, creating big name superstars like Christina Aguilera, Mandy Moore, and Britney Spears. Ford cemented her platinum position in the group with her provocative 2001 hit "I Wanna Be Bad".

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Photo Courtesy: @enews/Twitter

Ford’s follow up singles and record company roadblocks proved to be more complicated than she bargained for, and she ultimately decided to walk away from the industry. Turns out what a girl wants, what a girl needs is to create, so she turned her career around and became a full-time interior designer with her own firm. Not bad, Willa!

Lark Voorhies, Novelist

On Saved By the Bell, Voorhies played Lisa Turtle, the spoiled fashionista that batted away advances from the nerdy Screech Powers. The lighthearted comedy ran for five years but continues to play on televisions as younger generations get ready for school. 

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After the show finished its run, Voorhies landed several bit parts in other shows before stepping away from television roles in 2002. Afterwards, she picked up a pen and wrote three self-published books, none of which include a cast of squeaky-clean teenagers. 

Cameron Diaz, Self-Help Author

Cameron Diaz, the blond bombshell from There’s Something About Mary and countless other blockbuster films, announced her retirement from acting in 2018. After over 40 films as a leading lady, Diaz admitted that traveling from film set to film set was too draining. 

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Photo Courtesy: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

It appears Diaz has done a lot of inward thinking, because she’s published three self-help books focused on self care and how to better love your body. She’s a New York Times Bestseller, so where Diaz goes, the public is sure to follow. 

Jon Gosselin - Server, DJ, Stripper

In the late 2000s, all eyes were on Gosselin, his wife Kate, and their 8 children on the hit reality show Jon & Kate Plus 8. The show chronicled the absolute chaos that happens when eight toddlers are under one roof, and the impact it takes on an ultimately ill-fated marriage. 

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Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

After the show (and divorce), Jon took himself out of the limelight, working as a line cook at T.G.I.Friday’s, DJing local parties, and yes, even stripping. Gosselin made his stripping debut in 2017 at Caesar’s Palace in Atlantic City in celebration of his 40th birthday. The cameras, sadly, were not there to capture the magic. 

Erykah Badu, Doula

Neo-soul singer. DJ. Doula?! Erykah Badu made her mark on the music industry from the moment she stepped into the spotlight in 1997 with her debut album Baduism. Her eclectic combination of soul music with jazz, funk, and hip-hop ushered in a new wave of more earthy musical acts into the airwaves.

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Photo Courtesy: @GoodGameTalent/Twitter

In 2001, one of her close friends was in labor, and Badu stayed by her side throughout the fifty-two hour process. Badu later welcomed over 40 children as an official doula, and told The Huffington Post in 2017 that she was getting her midwifery license. While her music may not sell as well, there will always be pregnant women looking for an experienced doula.

Gerardo, Youth Pastor

Gerardo, the original Latin lover of the ‘90s, is best known for gyrating around with minimal clothing in his video for "Rico Suave". The song was played extensively on MTV in the summer of 1991, but he was never able to achieve another hit on the charts.

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Photo Courtesy: @TheRealGerardo/Twitter

Gerardo later worked behind the scenes as an A&R executive at Interscope Records, presumably with his shirt on. Yet his true calling became clear years later, as he announced in the 2010s that he had become a Christian youth pastor in Ashland, Kentucky. 

Kristi Yamaguchi, Fashion Designer

Kristi Yamaguchi won the world’s heart (and a gold medal) at the 1992 Winter Olympics with her incredible solo figure skating performance. She continued her reign on several Stars on Ice tours until she pulled out in 2002 to focus on her family.

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Photo Courtesy: @people/Twitter

Her hiatus from public life didn’t last long, as Yamaguchi continues to make a name for herself with her successful women’s athletic apparel brand, Tsuya. Each sale of her stylish fitness line supports Yamaguchi’s other venture, her nonprofit Always Dream Foundation. 

Audrey Hepburn, Humanitarian

In the Golden Age of Hollywood, Audrey Hepburn was one of the brightest stars on screen. Her iconic pixie-cut and effortless style helped Hepburn stand out among other actresses. Her resume includes cinema classics like Roman Holiday, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and My Fair Lady.

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Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

But as her film career reached its peak, she chose to devote more of her time to charity work. Hepburn traveled with UNICEF through Vietnam, Turkey and many other countries to help with humanitarian causes. She was later recognized by president George H. W. Bush with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her monumental efforts. 

Karyn Parsons, Philanthropist

On The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Parsons played Hillary, the ditsy big sister with a constant attitude problem. The role was the most notable performance on her resume to date, and any remaining acting parts dried up around 2002.

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Inspired by the stories her mother told her when she was a child, Parsons started her own non-profit, Sweet Blackberry. Its mission aims to bring little known stories of African American achievement to children everywhere. They even produce their own animated movies for schools and museums about inspirational historical figures. 

Jonathan Bennett, Spin Class Instructor

Mean Girls dominated the 2000s with an iconic roster of up-and-coming talent, including Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Seyfried, and Rachel McAdams. Bennett’s Aaron Samuels was the friendly, brooding senior that all the girls wanted to be with, and his performance left many wanting more. 

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Photo Courtesy: Paramount Pictures/IMDB

While Bennett does get the occasional TV role from time to time, you may have a better chance of spotting him in Los Angeles, where in between roles, Bennett works as a spin class instructor. We’re sure his hair looks sexy pushed back while up on the bike. 

Liam Gallagher, Clothing Designer

In the 1990s, Brit Rockers dominated the radio airwaves, and Oasis was at the front of the pack with hit after hit. Noel Gallagher was the writer for most of the songs, but Liam Gallagher was the charismatic frontman that brought life to Oasis’ sound.

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Photo Courtesy: MuseReading270817-3/Flickr

The Gallagher brothers’ tumultuous rivalry led to the band’s indefinite hiatus, upsetting fans around the world. Gallagher opened up Pretty Green in 2009, a ‘60s rock-inspired UK clothing line to help bring out the rock n’ roll star in all of us.  

Danica McKeller, Mathematician

As Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years, McKeller helped educate a generation on suburban life during the radically changing late 1960s. The show, which ran from ‘88-’93, touched on topics from that era including the Vietnam War’s impact on traditional, middle-class American families.

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Photo Courtesy: The Black-Marlens Company/New World Television/IMDB

McKeller has seemingly caught the education bug, as she graduated summa cum laude from UCLA with a degree in mathematics. As a writer, she has written six nonfiction books targeted to young people with a potential interest in studying math. 

Stacey Dash, Political Commentator

As Dionne “Dee” Davenport, Dash was the posh & preppy sidekick to Alicia Silverstone’s Cher in 1995’s teen comedy Clueless. The movie inspired a TV spinoff, where Dash reprised her character for an additional four years and continued her role as the Beverly Hills bombshell.

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Photo Courtesy: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

These days, Dash is recognized for stepping into the political spotlight, having served as a conservative commentator for Fox News from 2014-17. She even ran a campaign in 2018 for California’s 44th Congressional District before withdrawing to focus on her family. Who knows where her political aspirations will take her next!

Cary Grant, Cosmetics Businessman

Cary Grant is an icon in Hollywood’s Golden Era, known for his casual demeanor, lighthearted speaking voice, and uncanny comedic timing. His performances in movies like The Philadelphia Story, The Awful Truth, and Bringing Up Baby made him Hollywood’s ultimate leading man.

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Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Grant retired from acting at 66 and embraced his interest in business by joining the board of directors of cosmetics brand Fabergé. His success on the board helped grow the company’s net worth tremendously over time. Who knew the man on screen with such dreamy eyes had such a keen eye for business?