For as long as there have been movies, there have been actors. And for as long as there have been actors, there have been great actors. But while some actors become legends after their career peak, and continue to work and make public appearances, others fade into obscurity, or maybe they just retire. Regardless of how talented an actor is, sometimes they simply disappear from the public eye. Whether it’s a choice to step back from show biz, or because they just weren’t getting the roles, there are many actors we all once loved who have now sadly joined Bing Bong in the memory dump (too soon?).
Here is Screen Rant’s list of 12 Best Actors You Forgot Were Still Alive.
12. Brendan Fraser
Somehow, Brendan Fraser managed to dissipate into the ether after what looked like a successful and promising career. He boasted some incredible talent, and was surprisingly versatile, bouncing from action hero in The Mummy, to goofball in George of the Jungle, and everything in between (many of which were portrayed in Bedazzled alone).
Unfortunately, the years haven’t been kind to Fraser, and his lovability has diminished somewhat, leaving him hopping from bit part to bit part and very much in the distant memory of the public. His last major role in a studio film came all the way back in 2010’s Extraordinary Measures, but since then he’s been relegated mostly to under-seen indie films.
11. Rick Moranis
Rick Moranis’ story is a heart-breaking one. After phenomenal success in ’80s in films such as Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, Spaceballs and Ghostbusters, Moranis took a break from acting to take care of his children. His wife had died of breast cancer a few years earlier and he, honorably, decided he should spend more time with them. His initial break turned into a longer break, and eventually it became apparent that he probably wouldn’t come back.
There is good news for those who do still remember Moranis, however. Late last year, he was asked about his refusal to cameo in the upcoming all-female Ghostbusters reboot. He explained that it was simply based on his opinion of the role – not of his commitment to acting. He has been quoted as saying that he is “not retired,” so there is hope of a Rick Moranis comeback yet!
10. Goldie Hawn
After kicking off her career in some regular TV roles in the late ’60s and early ’70s, Goldie Hawn really hit her movie stride in the ’80s and ’90s. Becoming a go-to romantic lead, she starred in classic rom-coms such as The First Wives Club, Private Benjamin and Overboard – smashing through sexist Hollywood expectations and killing it as a romantic lead well into her forties (a fact that was even joked about by the characters of The First Wives Club, in which she played a prematurely past-her-prime actress).
However, over the last decade, Goldie Hawn has taken a step back from acting – with nothing other than a cameo in Phineas and Ferb added to her resume since 2002. These days, it seems she’s passed her RomCom torch on to her daughter, Kate Hudson.
9. Kirk Douglas
As Hollywood royalty goes, they don’t come much more prestigious than Kirk Douglas. Having recently celebrated his 99th Birthday, Douglas has been working in show business for over seven decades. He’s starred in timeless movies such as Paths of Glory and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea – also, he really is Spartacus!
After suffering a severe stroke in 1997, Douglas began to dial back on work and focused on recovering. His speech was severely affected, but that didn’t stop him from presenting the Oscar for Best Actress back in 2010. For a few moments, his speech stole the show.
While he may no longer be quite as much in the public eye, and therefore easily forgotten in day to day life, Kirk Douglas is still an incredible man with a great mind. Bizarrely, he is also thought to be the world’s oldest celebrity blogger, posting every few months on The Huffington Post about his life and views.
8. Dan Aykroyd
Apart from a few minor TV roles and cameos, Dan Aykroyd is another actor to fade from the public view as the years have passed. In the 80s, Aykroyd cemented himself with his legend status after writing and starring in two of the decade’s most iconic movies – Ghostbusters and The Blues Brothers.
Hilarious and musically talented, Aykroyd not only starred in some timeless movies – he also toured with Jim (and later John) Belushi and the Blues Brothers band. These days he isn’t in the limelight so much – though he does occasionally do a little press – but rather spends his time promoting his new venture, Crystal Head Vodka.
7. Tom Conti
Scottish-Italian actor Tom Conti has been gracing our screens in both television and movies since the late ’50s – as well as touring the West End and Broadway. Known for his performances in films such as Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, Conti has also done cameos in some modern blockbusters, such as The Dark Knight Rises as well as popping up in TV shows such as Friends here and there. In 1979 he even won a Tony for his performance in Whose Life Is It Anyway?
6. Mike Myers
In the ’90s, Mike Myers was a comedy regular. A household name and a writer to boot, he starred in classics like Wayne’s World and Austin Powers. While his many characters in Austin Powers may not have stood the test of time, with jokes that, to the modern viewer seem a little dated, Wayne’s World is still heralded as one of the great comedies of the ’90s. And who can listen to “Bohemian Rhapsody” without re-enacting the iconic car scene?
But after the failure of Love Guru, a film that attempted to launch another new Myers character, the funnyman has begun to fade into the back of our minds. Austin Powers 4 has been in development for the better part of a decade, but it remains to be seen just how many more sexual innuendos can be crammed in to the worn out series.
5. Dick Van Dyke
Now 90 years old, it’s understandable that Dick Van Dyke is now generally remembered only in moments of Disney nostalgia. He had an incredible career, starring in Disney movies such as Mary Poppins, as well as having his own show, The Dick Van Dyke Show. As well as this: he is a World War II veteran!
Whilst he may not be at the forefront of the modern consciousness, Van Dyke is still alive and kicking, having received the Screen Actors’ Guild’s Life Achievement Award back in 2013. He even recently had a cameo in the latest Night at the Museum film in 2014.
4. Gene Wilder
It’s fair to say that Gene Wilder is another actor on this list whom has faded from the public’s attention gracefully, seemingly into retirement. He’s one of those names that gets forgotten about until he is mentioned, leading fans to a moment of “oh yeah, I remember that guy.”
Possibly most famous for his role in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Wilder is also well known for his performances in Mel Brooks films like Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. However, he hasn’t graced our screens in over a decade – the last time being a cameo in Will and Grace.
3. Angela Lansbury
Last year, Dame Angela Lansbury reached her 90th birthday. She started acting at the tender age of 13, and has long since surpassed legend status. Perhaps most well-known for her leading role in Murder She Wrote, the TV crime drama that ran for an impressive 12 years, Lansbury is also heralded for her voice appearances in animated films such as Beauty and the Beast and Anastasia.
Over the last decade, Lansbury’s on-screen appearances have dwindled, so you would be forgiven for thinking she’d retired. However, she’s still acting even now. After ending her 2014 run of Blithe Spirit on London’s West End, she has professed to having “no intention” of retiring from theater.
2. Sean Connery
Of course, we haven’t forgotten about Sean Connery entirely – he was Bond, after all. He also fathered Indiana Jones and boasts an accent that most people will have attempted to imitate at least once in their life.
Apart from lending his voice to a video game or two, Connery has done pretty much nothing since The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen tanked in 2003. In interviews, he directly blamed the film for driving him to retirement. In his own words, he got “fed up of dealing with idiots.” But that was 13 long years ago, and being out of the public eye has left him as somewhat of a relic – and many younger viewers don’t even realize that he’s still alive.
1. Steve Guttenberg
Star of the ’80s Police Academy movies Steve Guttenberg is another actor who appears to have been banished to cameo limbo. It’s almost inexplicable, how a talented actor with an almost non-stop resume, in films like Cocoon, Short Circuit, and Three Men and a Baby, has ended up forgotten.
Whilst he is certainly still working, it’s mostly in TV bit parts, and these days he certainly isn’t at the top of anyone’s list of current actors. His last notable role came in the cult TV series Party Down, in which he played himself.
Can you think of any other actors who should be on this list? Probably not, because if you remember them, then they shouldn’t be on this list.