Once upon a time, they were Hollywood legends, basking in the glamour and glitz of the silver screen. They were the stars who lit up our screens and made our hearts skip a beat. But then, as the cameras stopped rolling and the applause died down, their lives took an unexpected turn. Some of them retired gracefully, while others struggled to find their footing outside of the limelight. They traded their designer gowns and tuxedos for more mundane uniforms, and their fans for coworkers who didn’t even know their names. Yes, today we’re going to explore the untold stories of the Hollywood legends who, after dazzling us with their talent, found themselves working regular jobs like the rest of us. Get ready for a journey through the ups and downs of fame, fortune, and the many unexpected twists that life can bring.
Factsverse Presents: Once a Hollywood Legend, Now He Works a Regular Job
Hollywood Legend #1 Angela Cartwright
In 1965, Angela Cartwright captured hearts as one of the von Trapp children in the classic musical film, The Sound of Music. Her acting career continued with notable roles such as Linda Williams on The Danny Thomas Show and Penny in Lost in Space. In 1976, Cartwright married her husband Steve Guillon and shifted her focus to photography. She established a thriving photography business in Studio City, L.A., where she provides her expertise in commercial and artistic photography to a wide range of clients.
Hollywood Legend #2 Gene Hackman
Hackman, a Hollywood legend and Oscar-winning actor with a career spanning several decades, has recently joined the ranks of celebrities who have transitioned to regular jobs. With an impressive filmography that includes iconic roles in Unforgiven, Superman, Bonnie and Clyde, Enemy of the State, and The Firm, Gene bid farewell to the glitz and glamour of Tinseltown in 2004, leaving behind over 100 acting credits. But he didn’t hang up his creative hat altogether. Instead, he’s found a new outlet for his artistic expression and is now a successful author of several novels, including Justice for None, Vermillion, Payback at Morning Peak, Escape from Andersonville, and Daniel Lenihan: Wake of the Perdido Star. While he may no longer grace our screens, Gene’s legacy lives on in his captivating stories and vivid characters.
Hollywood Legend #3 Peter Ostrum
Peter will forever hold a special place in the hearts of moviegoers as the lucky young lad who found the last golden ticket in the beloved 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Despite the film’s immense popularity, it turned out to be Peter’s first and final acting gig. He walked away from Hollywood soon after, refusing to sign on for any more roles. Instead, he invested some of his earnings from the movie into his passion for animals and bought a horse. This sparked his interest in working with animals, ultimately leading him to pursue a degree in veterinary science from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Today, Peter puts his doctorate to good use as a large animal veterinarian, tending to furry patients in a quaint countryside veterinary clinic located in upstate New York.
Hollywood Legend #4 Jerry Mathers
Jerry Mathers, a native of Sioux City, began his professional career at the tender age of two, but he wasn’t passionate about it. In fact, when he auditioned for the role of Beaver Cleaver, he told producers that he didn’t want to be there. However, they hired him on the spot anyway. Mathers later enlisted in the U.S. Air Force as a teenager, before starting a career as a commercial loan officer. He retired from the industry in 1978 but returned to the spotlight with multiple guest roles. Now in his 70s, he has been promoting Leave It To Beaver on the MeTV channel.
Hollywood Legend #5 Erik Estrada
From the bustling streets of East Harlem, a star was born. Erik Estrada, raised by his hardworking mother Carmen, dreamed of a life in front of the camera from an early age. His passion for acting burned bright, but it wasn’t until he landed a role in the 1970 film The Cross and the Switchblade that he was able to break into the industry. Fast forward to his most iconic role as Officer Frank Poncherello, aka “Ponch,” in the popular police drama CHiPs, which dominated the airwaves on NBC. But after a successful acting career, Estrada took a surprising turn and found himself serving the community as a police reserve deputy in Idaho. Though he may have left the hustle and bustle of Hollywood behind, his unwavering dedication to public service has become his new calling.
Hollywood Legend #6 Danny Bonaduce
Danny Bonaduce was a popular character on the ’70s television show The Partridge Family, in which he played the mischievous Danny. Following the show, he has explored numerous avenues within the entertainment industry. He starred in his own VH1 reality show, released an album, became a professional wrestler, and is now best known for his career as a radio personality. Bonaduce is also an ordained minister and has participated in charity boxing matches against singer Donny Osmond and attorney Robert Shapiro.
Geena Davis, a former actress and model, burst onto the scene in 1982 with a small role in the hit film Tootsie. She quickly made a name for herself with her breakthrough performance in the thrilling horror movie The Fly and solidified her status as a Hollywood icon with her role in the quirky comedy Beetlejuice. Although she continued to act, her career hit a lull in the 1990s, and she briefly ventured into hosting with her short-lived talk show, The Geena Davis Show, produced by Disney.
However, Davis soon left the entertainment industry to pursue her passions in directing and business. She also founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting gender equality both on and off screen. Through her business savvy, she also secured financing for the 2018 documentary This Changes Everything, which sheds light on the underrepresentation of women in Hollywood and the broader media landscape.
Keith Thibodeaux, who was only five years old when he landed the role of Little Ricky in the hit show I Love Lucy, played an unforgettable part in the show’s success. After his appearance on the series, Thibodeaux transitioned to the music industry and found success with the band David and the Giants. However, personal struggles in the 1970s led him to rediscover his Christian faith, which helped him turn his life around. Nowadays, he serves as the Executive Director of the internationally acclaimed dance company Ballet Magnificat!, founded by his wife Kathy Denton in 1986.
Rick Moranis managed to make a name for himself in the 1980s through his work on Second City Television and his leading roles in hit movies such as Ghostbusters, Little Shop of Horrors, and Parenthood. However, Moranis has since retired from acting in order to focus on raising his children as a single parent. While he has hinted at the possibility of returning to Hollywood in the past, even two Ghostbusters reboots failed to lure him back. That is, until the surprising year of 2020 when Moranis announced his involvement in a sequel to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, where he will reprise his role as Wayne Szalinski.
George Foreman, a former boxer who achieved great success in the 1960s and 1970s, retired from the sport in 1977 after a defeat to Jimmy Young. Following a religious awakening, Foreman became an ordained Christian minister. In 1994, he made a triumphant return to boxing, winning the championship at the age of 45 by knocking out his opponent, Michael Moorer, who was half his age. This historic victory made him the oldest heavyweight boxing champion in history before he retired again. In addition to his boxing career, Foreman also holds the patent for the popular Foreman grill. Nowadays, he works as a ringside analyst for HBO.
Owens, a former cast member of The Cosby Show in the 90s, has had various guest roles in popular TV shows such as It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, That’s So Raven, and Lucifer. In 2018, Owens’ work as a cashier at Trader Joe’s became the subject of media attention after the Daily Mail published photos of him working there. Many people came to his defense, arguing that he shouldn’t be shamed for working a regular job. The publicity eventually led to new acting opportunities, including a ten-episode project with Tyler Perry. Nowadays, Owens works as the artistic director of the Brooklyn Shakespeare Company, an organization that he founded. While he continues to take on minor acting roles, his primary focus is on directing and producing for the theatre company.
Angus T. Jones
Angus T. Jones rose to fame as a child actor in the hit TV show Two and a Half Men. Despite a successful career in Hollywood with films such as The Rookie and Bringing Down the House, Jones announced his retirement from acting. Today, he works in the private sector, employed by Tonite, a multimedia company that produces and finances various communication services. Despite leaving the entertainment industry, Jones’ work in Two and a Half Men and other productions continues to be streamed on popular platforms such as Amazon and Hulu.
Taran Noah Smith
Taran Noah Smith, known for his role as Mark in the hit nineties sitcom Home Improvement, decided to leave acting behind after the show ended. In an interview, he shared that he simply lost interest in pursuing an acting career.
Instead, Smith ventured into the world of entrepreneurship, founding a non-dairy cheese manufacturing company called Playfood. Although the company hasn’t yet taken off and its products aren’t widely available in stores, Smith remains passionate about his vegan lifestyle and even opened a vegan restaurant with the same name.
Currently, Smith works as a tech manager for Community Submersibles, an educational project focused on underwater exploration and piloting.
In the 1960s, Jay North brought the beloved comic strip character Dennis the Menace to life in a live-action sitcom. However, the challenges of the entertainment industry and on-set treatment proved difficult for the young actor. Despite continuing to work in the industry after the show ended, opportunities dwindled over time. Following a period in the Navy, North returned to acting with only limited success. He has since retired from acting and now works as a correctional officer in Florida’s juvenile justice system.
Danny is among the few famous actors who have chosen to pursue regular jobs. At the tender age of six, he rose to stardom with his role as Danny Torrance in the horror classic The Shining (1980). However, he decided to leave the acting world behind and chart a new course for himself. Today, he works as a biology professor at a community college in Kentucky. Prior to this, he spent time as a farmer, developing a love for the outdoors and a deep appreciation for the natural world.
While most people know Josh Saviano from his role as Paul Joshua Pfeiffer in the iconic comedy-drama series The Wonder Years, the actor left Hollywood behind after the show’s end. Graduating from high school and turning his attention to academics, Saviano pursued a career in law and ultimately became a senior partner at a major law firm. In 2014, he briefly returned to his acting roots, taking on a role as a lawyer in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
When people think of the “Golden Age of Hollywood,” the name Cary Grant often comes to mind. With starring roles in films like 1937s The Awful Truth, 1938s Bringing Up Baby, 1940s The Philadelphia Story, and 1955s and To Catch A Thief, Grant became one of the most beloved actors of his time. However, in 1968, at the age of 62, he made the decision to retire from Hollywood. Grant felt that the era of classic filmmaking in California had come to an end, and that his priority was to provide a stable environment for his newborn daughter, Jennifer.
So, that’s all we have to show you for now. Can you think of any other stars who ended up working regular jobs like the rest of us plebs? Let us know in the comments. And as always, thanks for watching!