Remember those actors who won their way into our hearts, made us laugh, cry, and fall in love with them, only to leave us hanging in the end wondering wtf happened? These actors may have starred in some unforgettable roles, but their abrupt departure might have some fans feeling like they were trying really hard to erase themselves from our memories.
While these celebrities are gone from the public eye, they are never forgotten. So what made them leave after finding such huge success? If you’ve ever wondered what happened to some of your favorite celebrities or maybe you just need to be reminded of some of your beloved number-ones who went away, then this list is for you.
Here are 15 celebrities (who we totally miss) that ended up disappearing after hit movies.
15. Michael Schoeffling – last seen in 1991 in Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken
Michael Schoeffling first charmed his way into our hearts in 1984’s Racing with the Moon. But the second teenage girls across America met Jake Ryan in Sixteen Candles, life would never be the same. The ultra-cool popular kid, who was actually a really nice guy that left his gorgeous Prom Queen girlfriend for the awkward high school sophomore, is still one of pop culture’s greatest characters.
Everyone thought Michael Schoeffling would’ve gone on to do great things in film, and he did – for about a minute. In 1990, he starred opposite Winona Ryder in Mermaids, but after his appearance in Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken, he left the business; ironically breaking a lot of wild hearts. Schoeffling reportedly retired from acting in 1991. He married a model, had two kids, and ended up taking a job as a carpenter in Pennsylvania. The heartthrob fell so far off the map that no one seems to know what he even looks like today. Talk about the one who got away.
14. Bridget Fonda – last seen in 2002 on the TV movie Snow Queen
For over a decade now, a lot of people have asked the question, “What the hell happened to Bridget Fonda?” She comes from Hollywood royalty: Henry Fonda, Peter Fonda, Jane Fonda; all legends in the entertainment industry. Bridget Fonda fit right in there when she first stepped onto the scene in Easy Rider. The absolutely stunning sweetheart adoringly stole the spotlight in mostly everything she did.
Early on in You Can’t Hurry Love, Bridget seemed destined for stardom. Her long list of credits include: Doc Hollywood, Single White Female, Singles, It Could Happen to You, Jackie Brown; the list goes on. But in 2002, she appeared in the TV movie, Snow Queen, and after that, her career just froze. The end of it seemed to coincide with her marriage to Oingo Boingo’s Danny Elfman (who strangely enough pulled his own disappearing act with his band in 1995). The two found love and started a family together. While Elfman of course went on to become an award-winning composer for just about every single movie ever made, the only appearance Fonda has made in recent years is standing beside her husband on a red carpet.
13. Charlie Korsmo – last seen in 1998 in Can’t Hardly Wait
“What About Charlie?” is something those of us who loved the ‘90s child star have often pondered. While Korsmo started off the decade strong, the end of the ’90s pretty much proved to be the end of his acting career. He hit a home run right out of the gate with 1990’s Men Don’t Leave. Of course, after that it was Dick Tracy, and then on to starring alongside Bill Murray in What About Bob? After Hook in 1991, Korsmo seemed to lay low for a few years, until finally he reemerged as a teenager in 1998’s Can’t Hardly Wait. But then, the actor once again disappeared quickly from our sights. As it turns out, the lovable genius kid he played in What About Bob? wasn’t too far off from real-life.
Korsmo left the acting world to enter the dangerous and unpredictable world of corporate and banking law. Named in TIME’s “Top 10 Wicked Smart Actors,” Korsmo went on to (among other things) earn a J.D. from Yale’s Law School and work for the federal government. Surprisingly, it appears the former actor has a new movie coming out in 2018, called Chained for Life. Certainly, his fans can’t hardly wait to see what that’s about.
12. Marissa Ribisi – last seen in 2003 on Watching Ellie
This curly-haired, redheaded beauty (who was known for being as much a rebel as she was a sweetheart) was a regular fixture on both the big screen and the small screen in the ‘90s. These days, when someone mentions the name Ribisi, everyone thinks of her (still-working and very successful) twin brother, Giovanni. But that wasn’t always the case.
Marissa Ribisi’s first mega hit was 1993’s Dazed and Confused. Along with her many TV appearances, the actress found huge success starring in films like The Brady Bunch Movie and Pleasantville. After her last major appearance in 2003, starring alongside Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Steve Carell in Watching Ellie, Marissa bowed out of the business. Apparently since no one was really watching Ellie and the show was cancelled, maybe Ribisi thought no one would notice. It’s safe to say that the actress’s sudden departure from the industry left us all a little dazed and confused.
11. Mike Vitar – last seen in 1997 on Chicago Hope
Mike Vitar, who played Benny ‘the Jet’ Rodriguez” in the 1993 film The Sandlot, immediately won over fans in the hit movie about a bunch of kids who loved baseball. The film was a great success, and the actor showed signs of promising things to come. He quickly followed it up with 1994’s D2: The Mighty Ducks and 1996’s D3: The Mighty Ducks, and he appeared to be lining up his ducks (so to speak) for a lifelong career in the industry.
But the rising star unexpectedly retired from the scene in 1997 after appearing on the TV show Chicago Hope. Trading in his skates for a firehose, Mike left Hollywood life for a career at the Los Angeles Fire Department. Although he disappeared from the screen, unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the last we’d see of the former child star. In 2014, he and a couple of other firemen were involved in an altercation that left a man near dead. Mike took a deal and pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery.
10. Randy Quaid – last seen in 2009 in Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach
Oh, Randy Quaid. On the big screen, we’ve always loved the actor’s zany antics. His characters are unforgettable and his long list of hit films date all the way back to the early ‘70s. From National Lampoon’s Vacation, to Days of Thunder, to Independence Day, to Kingpin, the actor had a knack for portraying roles that were larger than life. But in Quaid’s case, it would seem that he didn’t have to look very far for inspiration.
While the last time we saw him in a film was in 2009 (and for all intents and purposes, his acting career disappeared at that point) he still pops-up from time to time, bringing himself back into the spotlight and proving that art really does imitate life. The Oscar-nominated star began with a string of arrests back in 2009. He and his wife eventually fled to Canada seeking asylum and were arrested again years later trying to re-enter the U.S. In 2015, Quaid found his way back on the screen, starring in a series of sex tapes with his wife that the couple released themselves online.
9. Kerri Green – last seen in 2012 in Complacent
While it’s true that “Goonies never say die!” that certainly didn’t stop one former star of The Goonies from ending her career years ago. Kerri Green could have easily been considered one of America’s Sweethearts in the ‘80s. After her breakout role as Andy, in the 1985 cult classic about a bunch of treasure hunting kids, Green continued on to have more success starring in Summer Rental with John Candy and in Lucas alongside Corey Haim and Charlie Sheen.
In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, the actress veered more toward TV than film, but in 2001, she completely fell off the radar after an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Although mainly out of the public eye, Kerri had launched a production company in the ‘90s and reportedly went on to do some writing during the mid-2000s. After an 11-year hiatus from acting, she returned with a film called Complacent, only to go missing once again. Somewhere in our imaginations, The Goonies star is still off with the rest of the gang, hunting treasure and fighting bad guys.
8. Ilan Mitchell-Smith – last seen in 1991 on Silk Stalkings
The Weird Science star came up alongside Anthony Michael Hall in one of biggest hits of the ‘80s about two smart, yet geeky, teenagers who decide to create the perfect woman on their computer; in the end becoming popular and winning over the real girls of their dreams. From there, the actor went on to do more work, but he made his final on-screen appearance in 1991, on the TV series Silk Stalkings. After that, the movie star then disappeared from the spotlight.
He ended up leaving acting for a career in academia, eventually earning his Ph.D. in Medieval Studies at Texas A&M University. Today, he’s married with two children and is a Professor at California State University Long Beach. Although he’s not acting these days, in real-life, he’s not too far off from how you would’ve imagined the adult version of his character in Weird Science would be. Mitchell-Smith is currently a D&D master, roleplayer, gamer, and author, who is actually pretty active on Twitter. It’s nice to know after all these years that he’s still got a special place in his heart for computers.
7. Peter Ostrum – last seen in 1971 in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
While a lot of people today imagine Johnny Depp when they think of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the original role went to Gene Wilder and “Charlie” was played by a young actor named Peter Ostrum. 1971’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory may have been a huge hit and an instant classic, but Ostrum had absolutely no interest in pursuing a career in the arts. The reluctant star left the limelight after that, and has barely even done interviews over the years (except after the passing of the great Gene Wilder).
A long time ago, Peter Ostrum opted for a life of a different kind. He received his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine and settled down in Upstate New York. However, Peter hasn’t left the character of “Charlie Bucket” completely behind. Fans will be happy to know that Ostrum still has a special place in his heart when it comes to meeting up with a group of kids, as the only public appearances he makes these days are in front of a classroom full of second-graders to talk about his experience at the “Chocolate Factory.”
6. Mary Louise Weller – last seen in 1983 on Quincy M.E.
The ridiculously popular 1978 smash hit National Lampoon’s Animal House about a bunch of crazy college kids produced countless careers, all stemming from that one moment in cinematic history. John Belushi, Kevin Bacon, Karen Allen, Tim Matheson; and those are just the ACTORS who went on to do big things.
However, Mary Louise Weller, who starred as “Mandy Pepperidge,” the sorority sister who famously stole the show in that peeping tom scene, was one star who completely vanished after 1983. She worked up until that point on TV shows like Fantasy Island and CHiPs, but was last seen in the early ‘80s on Quincy M.E. The model/actress continued to act in plays after that and even tried her hand at writing, but eventually retired from acting without much of a peep.
5. Ann Reinking – last seen in 1987 on The Cosby Show
Ann Reinking is the world-class entertainer who stole our hearts forever as Grace Farrell in 1982’s Annie. From All That Jazz to Micki + Maude, it seemed that the performer was bound to keep knocking out the big screen hits. But surprisingly, Reinking’s last appearance as an actor came on The Cosby Show in 1987. After that, the star would seemingly fade away.
However, as fans of the actress know, while she may have left our sights, she never really went anywhere. Although the dancing Queen retired from performing by the mid-90s, she continues to choreograph for theater, television, and film. She has appeared in several documentaries over the years, and today, she works with a charity close to her own heart: the Marfan Foundation. While we don’t get to see much of the star these days, you can bet your bottom dollar that if she made a movie tomorrow, fans would be happy to have her back on the big screen.
4. Shelley Duvall – last seen in 2002 in Manna from Heaven
We all remember Shelley Duvall starring in roles such as the lovable Olive Oyl from 1980’s Popeye. Since the ‘70s, the actress has had some huge hits under her belt that would even make the wish list for today’s top talent. Whether it was in Annie Hall, The Shining, or Roxanne, Duvall always had a way of winning us over with every character she played. But her appearance in 2002’s independent film, Manna from Heaven, would be the last time we would see the actress on-screen. After two decades of success, Duvall seemed to have drifted off into obscurity.
For years, Shelley insisted that her reclusive nature was merely a lifestyle choice, however in 2016, the quirky actress re-emerged on Dr. Phil (almost unrecognizable) to discuss her mental illness. Duvall’s appearance caused quite a stir and left us all heartbroken. While Shelley once stated that “A return to acting is never out of the question,”hopes of seeing this former star’s return to the big screen quickly dwindled after learning of her current state.
3. Rick Moranis – last seen in 2007 in Bob & Doug McKenzie’s Two-Four Anniversary
Rick Moranis is considered to be one of the most beloved actors in Hollywood history, so where on Earth did he go? Early on, the comedian captivated us in shows like SCTV and Saturday Night Live. His blockbusters that were to follow made him one of our favorite faces to see grace the big screen. Ghostbusters (both the original and the sequel), Little Shop of Horrors, Spaceballs, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Parenthood; and those were only some of his hits from the ‘80s. The actor went on to star in popular films all the way into 2007, when he just stopped working.
It’s hard to imagine why someone would leave such a successful career behind, but in an interview from 2013, the actor opened up about quitting the business to be a stay-at-home dad. Yup, turns out, Rick Moranis really is the ultimate hero he played in many of his films. While he still does some voice work, and we can catch a glimpse into his life every now and then thanks to Twitter, fans await the day when we will get to see his return to the industry.
2. Phoebe Cates– last seen in 2001 in The Anniversary Party
Phoebe Cates was the ultimate ‘80s babe. Her scene-stealing ways in 1982’s epic teen flick, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, catapulted her into stardom. From there, she of course went on to star in other hits like Gremlins (as well as Gremlins 2: The New Batch), Bright Lights, Big City, Shag and Drop Dead Fred. According to her IMDB, she was even originally set to play the role of “Annie Banks” in the remake of Father of the Bride, but she had to drop out because she was expecting.
In 1989, Cates married one of our other all-time favorites, actor Kevin Kline. The couple has been together ever since and have two kids. Cates only appeared four times on-screen from 1991 – 2001. She retired from acting in 1994 and was said only to have returned for 2001’s The Anniversary Party because of her good friend, the director (and Fast Times co-star) Jennifer Jason Leigh. Cates did not disappoint in her critically acclaimed comeback, as she starred alongside her husband and her kids, making it a real family affair.
1. Cynthia Rhodes – last seen in 1991 in Curse of the Crystal Eye
The blonde bombshell who first danced her way into our lives playing Tina in Flashdance, then Jackie in Staying Alive, and once again as Penny Johnson in 1987’s Dirty Dancing, was surely someone everyone thought had a huge career ahead of her. After Dirty Dancing, Cynthia Rhodes had become a household name and what else would someone do after such a monumental box office success? They retire.
Yup, the actress only made one more theatrical appearance in 1991’s Curse of the Crystal Eye, and then she exited the stage. Rhodes left her big screen dancing shoes behind, married singer/songwriter Richard Marx, and had three children. After 25 years together, the couple split in 2014. While Marx would go on to make more music and remarry, fans of Rhodes still longingly hope for her return to stardom. Come on, Cynthia. We’re “Right Here Waiting” for you.
What other celebrities seemingly vanished after some major success? Let us know who you would add to the list.
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