The Famous Leading Ladies Of Hollywood: Why Did They Leave?

While some celebrities move on to bigger and bigger projects and never leave the limelight, some simply fizzle out and fade into obscurity. Be it family, or plain inadequacy concerning their acting chops, these once burgeoning Hollywood leading ladies are now a thing of the past. Let’s see their reasons for doing so!

Meg Ryan


With classic hits under her belt such as ‘Sleepless in Seattle’, ‘You’ve Got Mail’, ‘When Harry Met Sally’, Meg Ryan was a favorite for the casting directors in the 80’s and 90’s. But her success only lasted so long after her messy divorce from actor Dennis Quaid, which hurt her reputation, accompanied by some extreme plastic surgery.

Amanda Bynes

retired actor-amanda

Bynes rose to prominence as a child actor on Nickelodeon shows ‘All That’ and ‘The Amanda Show’. But her fall from grace was swift, thanks to her erratic behavior, trouble with the law, and dramatic change in her physical appearance mid-2000’s. She hasn’t been seen on TV since, with claims that she’s focusing on a fashion career.

Lauryn Hill

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Lauryn became a household name with her role in the much-beloved film ‘Sister Act 2: Back In Habit’. The audience was captivated by her powerful voice and she soon followed it up with the release of her critically acclaimed album ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.’ But then, Lauryn left public life almost entirely. Rumors were that she joined a cult, or lost her mind.

Grace Kelly

retired actor-grace

Grace Kelly exuded the vibes of a royal even before she married the Prince of Monaco. A darling of the 50’s, her career came to an abrupt end when she married Prince Rainier the Third. Grace Kelly became the Princess of Monaco and left the silver screen behind. Possibly the best reason to leave Hollywood!

Elizabeth Hurley

retired actor-liz

Equal parts sultry and sassy and an English accent to add to it, Elizabeth Hurley was an erotic icon in the 90’s. But her looks were going to take her only so far, it seems. Her last prominent role was in early 2000, and aside from a few gig here and there, Hurley has faded away.

Phoebe Cates

retired actor-pheobe

Geena Davis

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Geena Davis is most notably known for her role in the children’s movie ‘Stuart Little’, but she also boasts of an Oscar win, ‘Thelma and Louise’, ‘A League of Their Own’, under her belt. She had hit Hollywood gold. But she gradually faded out of movies to focus on personal projects.

Doris Day

retired actor-doris

Doris Day was at the top of her game in the 60’s and 70’s. She starred alongside some of the biggest names in Hollywood and was the singer in Big Bands. But the fame and fortune have a way of getting to people. She had 4 failed marriages which took a toll on the actress, and ultimately she retired from the public eye.

Bridget Fonda

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Being the niece of the famous Jane Fonda, Bridget also took a liking to the craft of her aunty and soon became a sought-after star in the 90s. However, as is the case with marriage and kids, they seem to take away female actresses from the big screen. Bridget’s last appearance was 2002 movie ‘Snow Queen.’

Lark Voorhies


Lark played the role of the chipper Lisa Turtle on ‘Saved by the Bell’, which made her a household name in the early 90s. She left the limelight shortly after the show wrapped. But in more recent times made headlines for her bizarre change in appearance due to Lupus.

Danica McKellar

retired actors-danica

While some might not even know or remember that name, but young Danica played the role of Winnie Cooper in ‘The Wonder Years’! In many cases, child stars go on to pursue acting as a career, but Danica had other interests entirely. After leaving TV, she went on to study mathematics and has since written books for young girls that encourages girls to learn the subject.

The Olsen Twins

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, collectively known as the Olsen twins, were the “it” girls of the 90’s. They started their acting careers as toddlers and have several tv shows and movies under their collective belts. After leaving acting early on, Mary-Kate suffered from Anorexia Nervosa but has now thankfully bounced back.

Nikki Blonsky

retired actor-nikki

Nikki had her big break when she got cast in the titular role of Tracy Turnblad in the cinematic revival of the 2002 musical production ‘Hairspray.’ She acted alongside big names of Hollywood –  John Travolta and Michelle Pfeiffer. But after non-significant roles in other TV shows and movies, Nikki’s career never really took off after ‘Hairspray.’

Mara Wilson

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A young and doe-eyed Mara Wilson was a darling of the children’s movies with starring roles in Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire. But all that glitters isn’t gold, Mara soon found out when acting on the big screen didn’t turn out to be as fun as thinks it to be. She gave up acting professionally after her stint in movies as a child.

Carrie Henn

retired actor-carrie

For young Carrie Henn, after her role as the tough kid – Newt – in the ‘Alien’ movie, she never got the appeal of acting. After her very short run as an actress, she dropped out completely after just one movie. She instead pursued studies and child development and went on to become a teacher.

Lindsay Lohan


Lindsay got her start in Hollywood after starring in the hit movie ‘The Parent Trap’, playing the dual roles of the spunky redhead twins. She garnered even more fame after starring in the sleeper hit ‘Mean Girls’. But there was a steep decline in her popularity after getting involved with illegal substances and minor shoplifting. She has since then laid low and hopes for a comeback.

Tatum O’Neal


The price of experiencing success at a young age is quite hefty. Tatum won an Oscar for her role in ‘Paper Moons’ at the tender age of only 10 years old, the youngest recipient ever to receive the award. But maybe it wasn’t the best thing for the young star. Her immense fame opened the alluring gateway to drugs, which led to the end of her career.

Karyn Parsons

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Karyn played the role of Hillary Banks on the popular 90’s sitcom ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.’After her stint on the show, she left it behind to focus on her personal projects. She founded the company ‘Sweet Blackberry’ that focuses on telling biographies of African Americans “that would otherwise stay stuck in history books.”

Goldie Hawn

<> at Ron Burkleís Green Acres Estate on November 21, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California.

Goldie Hawn’s last film was way back in 2002 called ‘Banger Sisters’ alongside Susan Sarandon. And although she’s been seemingly on a hiatus for fifteen years now, she hasn’t retired officially. She took a surprising decision in 2017 by agreeing to star in a film called ‘Mother/Daughter.’