Saying goodbye is hard to do — especially if you’re a celebrity accustomed to the fame and adulation of an adoring public.
We’ve seen it happen again and again. A star makes a big announcement about retiring, only to make a big comeback later on — and there’s usually big money in doing that, too.
“It was the worst retirement, maybe, in history.”
They come back, they cash in, and they wind up never really retiring. As the Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks song asks, “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away?”
Here are 10 stars who retired, came back, and likely will never let go of the limelight.
The country music superstar left fans devastated when he announced his retirement in 2000. Garth Brooks was only 38 at the time, and he went out on top as the best-selling artist of the previous decade. But he wanted to spend more time at home in Oklahoma with his daughters, so he hung up his hat. Though Brooks stayed true to his decision not to tour, for the most part, he did commit to a five-year residency in Las Vegas in 2009 and wound up performing at various charity shows.
It all changed in 2014 when he returned fully to touring. Now, he’s about to announce new and bigger music plans, starting with a free concert in Nashville on Oct. 24 at the Ascend Amphitheater. It’s part of a state-sponsored celebration to recognize Brooks’ accomplishment of becoming the first artist to see seven of his albums sell more than 10 million units each.
When Sinatra announced his retirement in 1971, the news disappointed many. But it turned out to be short-lived. In 1973, billboards trumpeted “Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back,” with a new album and a TV special of that title, followed by a world tour at the start of 1974. He went on to perform another 1,000 or so concerts until he retired in 1995. He died in 1998 at age 82.
By the time she announced her retirement in 1999, Streisand, then 57, had decades of albums, tours, and films under her belt. Of course, the announcement of her “final tour” drove ticket prices sky-high and she reportedly grossed over $70 million.
Streisand did stay out of the spotlight — for the most part — until 2006, when she returned for “Streisand: The Tour.” Since then, she has also toured in 2012 and has stayed in the public eye by hawking for Hillary, releasing a few new studio albums, and appearing in movies, including 2012’s “Guilt Trip.”
Thankfully, Eastwood decided to come back after announcing in 2008 that “Gran Torino” would be his last movie as an actor. Since then, the veteran star and esteemed director has helmed movies, including current Oscar contender “Sully,” and he also came out of his “retirement” by acting in the 2012 film, “Trouble with the Curve.”
The one-of-a-kind Cher announced her “Living Proof: The Farewell Tour” in 2002. It was supposed to be her last. But as the tour went on, it was so successful she added 100 more dates. The final show actually took place after 325 concert dates, ending in 2005 — but not before Cher had signed a big record deal in 2003. And three years later, she said yes to a three-year residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. In 2013, Cher released her 25th studio album.
Her latest work has mostly been writing Trump-bashing tweets. Although she recently admitted that while Trump may be a “dangerous” political figure, she said young voters are not “drawn to Hillary” Clinton because they don’t “trust her.”
It’s difficult to believe that hip-hop mogul Jay Z ever said he was retiring. But that’s what he announced after releasing “The Black Album.” It didn’t last long, though. In 2006, he made a comeback album, “Kingdom Come.” “It was the worst retirement, maybe, in history,” he admitted at the time. He has continued to oversee his Tidal music streaming business, as well as making appearances in his wife Beyoncé’s music videos.
When you’re in professional wrestling, retirement is often part of the act. In 1990, Hogan told fans he wanted to retire, which launched a campaign to get fans to write him to ask him to stay. He remained active through various wrestling organizations until 1998, when he told Jay Leno he was retiring from professional wrestling and was running for president. It was all a publicity stunt tied to Jesse Ventura’s gubernatorial win.
Hogan jumped back in the ring in 1999 and pretended to retire in 2011, only to come back for another fight. Finally, in July 2015, Hogan parted ways with World Wrestling Entertainment. The only “fighting” he has done recently is against Gawker in a lawsuit. In March, Hogan was awarded $125 million. Recently, he was asked what he missed about being in the ring. “That’s an easy answer,” he said. “That is the only place I ever felt free.”
In a baffling announcement in 2008, Phoenix announced his retirement from acting to pursue a career as a rapper. It seemed crazy — and it was. He later explained it was all done for his mockumentary with Casey Affleck entitled, “I’m Still Here.” He returned to acting for the 2012 movie “The Master” and received some critical acclaim for 2013 film, “Her.”
Kal Penn doesn’t know if he prefers politics or show business. He asked to be written out of “House,” the hit Fox show he was on in 2009, so he could go work for the Obama administration. A year later, he left the White House and returned to acting for “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas.” Then he went back to the White House for a while. But he quit for a 2011 role in “How I Met Your Mother.” He has the best of both worlds now, as he plays a White House speechwriter opposite Kiefer Sutherland in the ABC drama, “Designated Survivor.”
In 2014, the actor famously wrote of his retirement in a New York Magazine story entitled, “goodbye, Public Life.” It was in rebuttal to accusations of homophobia. He has also quit and re-joined Twitter more times than anyone can count. But he’s back. Or he’s still here. In 2015, he appeared in three movies. And he most recently showed up as Donald Trump this past weekend on the new season debut of “Saturday Night Live.”