40 surprising celebrity "where are they nows"
Fame is often fleeting, and across all the industries that create celebrities, many of the world's biggest stars eventually go on to launch second careers later in life. Sometimes out of necessity and sometimes as passion projects, singers, actors, musicians, athletes, artists, and politicians often reinvent themselves when their original run meets its end. Some become authors, others launch startups, and some slip into peculiarly normal lives as lawyers, bakers, and veterinarians.
In one case, a two-time Oscar winner transformed himself into a three-time novelist. In another case, a former rapper brought his DIY skills to a home improvement show. Then there's the horror flick icon who ventured into the pot-growing business or the television smut peddler who became a political podcaster. Keep reading for a look at the often interesting and sometimes odd revivals lived out by some of the biggest stars from decades past.
In 1969, Ali MacGraw went from being a little-known fashion stylist and model to a global superstar thanks to a role in "Goodbye Columbus." The next few years would be a whirlwind of success and tabloid drama that included roles in critically acclaimed movies and publicly collapsing marriages to powerful Hollywood insiders like leading man Steve McQueen and producer Robert Evans. The Oscar nominee and three-time Golden Globe winner walked away from the business after her last credited role in 1997 for a quiet life in Santa Fe, N.M., where she volunteers and practices yoga and meditation while surrounded by the animals that she's rescued over the years—she even released a successful yoga video of her own in 1994.
Actor Geoffrey Owens was best known for his role as Elvin Tibideaux on "The Cosby Show," one of the most successful and beloved sitcoms of all time. In 2018, he was publicly shamed on social media when he was seen and photographed bagging groceries at a Trader Joe's in New Jersey. Almost immediately, celebrities of all stripes, along with fans and regular people, rushed to defend his pursuit of honest work between gigs. He's also received several acting offers since the story broke.
Steven Seagal was arguably the biggest action star in the world starting with his debut role in 1988's "Above the Law." In later years, his ventures included becoming an honorary cop and appearing in a law enforcement reality show while a storm of sexual abuse allegations swarmed around him. Most recently, and perhaps most bizarrely, Vladimir Putin in 2018 appointed Seagal, who has held Russian citizenship since 2016, as a special envoy to the United States.
On Oct. 4, 1990, pinch-rolled jeans and SoCal prep went mainstream with the debut of "Beverly Hills, 90210," which made household names out of stars like Jason Priestley, Tori Spelling, and Luke Perry. Jenny Garth played high-school queen of the in-crowd Kelly Taylor for all 10 seasons of the show's run. In 2017, Garth launched MomGiftBox.com, a curated subscription service that falls under the umbrella of the TheGiftBox.com line.
Mayim Bialik is best known for her role in 1989's "Beaches" and most notably, the early 1990s sitcom "Blossom," although she more recently enjoyed a career resurgence on "The Big Bang Theory." Later, however, she became a prominent spokesperson for animal rights and the vegan lifestyle, launching a successful cookbook as well as a book on motherhood.
A two-time Oscar winner with 100 acting credits that include "Hoosiers," "Unforgiven," "The Royal Tenenbaums," "The French Connection," and "Mississippi Burning," Gene Hackman is one of the most successful leading men in Hollywood history. More recently, however, Hackman embraced his inner scribe and launched a career as a writer. Simon & Schuster lists him as the co-author of three novels.
With the exception of 2001's "The Anniversary Party," 1980s teen queen Phoebe Cates' acting credits dropped off entirely in 1994. Before that, she struck Hollywood gold both in 1982 and 1984 with key roles in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" and "Gremlins," respectively. Cates switched gears in 2005 when she opened Blue Tree, a successful women's clothing and jewelry store in the Upper East Side neighborhood of New York City.
Josh Saviano's clients know him as the lawyer and entrepreneur who founded Act 3 Advisors, a New York City law firm that focuses on branding. Anyone who owned a television between 1988–1992, however, knows him as Kevin Arnold's neurotic and allergic neighbor Paul on "The Wonder Years." For much of his career, Saviano was the subject of a bizarre, enduring, and false rumor that he was secretly 1990s shock rocker Marilyn Manson.
Tony Hawk is probably the only household name in the history of skateboarding and was already a global icon by the time he became the first skater in history to land a 900, a then-unprecedented feat he pulled off at the 1999 X Games in San Francisco. In 2016, Hawk delighted fans when he pulled off the same trick again, this time at the age of 48—but skating is no longer Hawk's bread and butter. In 2018 he launched D/Cal, a brand consulting agency based out of Detroit and California.
Robert Van Winkle, known to the world as Vanilla Ice, enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame thanks to his 1991 mega-hit "Ice Ice Baby," which topped the charts before his music career rapidly declined. He attempted several failed comebacks, tried his hand at acting, and embarked on a successful run in motocross racing, but he never truly disappeared from the limelight. He's now enjoying a television run as the host of a popular home renovation show on the DIY Network called "The Vanilla Ice Project."
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