18 movie stars who disappeared

They were on the path to stardom. The world was at their feet. Then they disappeared! We meet the movie stars that were, then weren't!

Hollywood is a fickle mistress. The road to superstardom is littered with her used-up conquests: child stars who never made it as adults, pin-ups who had the temerity to grow old or raise a family, boyish heroes who suddenly weren’t so boyish and side-splitting comics who found out the hard way just how fast comedy can date.

While Tinseltown is filled with performers who never made it to the big time, the strangest and saddest tales belong to those who hit the dizzy heights of  fame but could not, for whatever reason, hold on to it. What happened to them? Find out below.

Molly Ringwald

 A Breakfast Club star, Ringwald was the pin-up on every mid-80s bedroom wall. She almost seemed to decide against stardom when she turned down the Julia Roberts role in Pretty Woman (1990) and the Demi Moore role in Ghost (1990), escaping her US fame to live in Europe.

Mark Hamill

Despite starring in the Star Wars trilogy, arguably the three most famous films ever made, Mark Hamill’s movie career never really got off the ground. After a few dodgy sci-fi titles (slipstream anyone?) and cameo appearances in video games, Hamill has settled nicely into voice animation work. He does a mean Joker in the animated Batman.

Geena Davis

 With her kooky good looks and feisty screen presence, Davis was the quintessential 1980s poster girl, starring in such box office bonanzas as The Fly, Beetllejuice and the iconic Thelma and Louise.  Appearances in a series of duds for director and then husband Renny Harlin eclipsed her star somewhat, although she won a Golden Globe for her TV performance as the first female US president in Commander In Chief.

Michael Biehn

 What the hell happened?! This guy was THE star of The Terminator. He was all buddy buddy with James Cameron after that, bagging parts in Aliens ('86) and The Abyss ('89) that should have seen him hit the big time. Perhaps it all slipped away when Cameron cut his scenes from Terminator 2. Not cool, Jim. For our favourite Biehn performance check out 1991's underrated K2.

Thora Birch

Her breakout performance as Kevin Spacey’s sulky teen daughter in American beauty promised great things, and Birch followed it up with a pair of smart, sassy roles in Ghost World and The Hole. Still landing regular movie roles, but the movies themselves tend to disappear without trace. Anyone reading this seen Dark Corners, Tainted Love or Winter Of Frozen Dreams? Nope, neither have we.

 Daryl Hannah

 It can’t be easy to be remembered as “that girl who was the mermaid in that Tom Hanks movie” and "her from Blade Runner", but Daryl Hannah has borne her cross with goodwill, concentrating on indie movies, stage work and activism. An appearance in Kill Bill threatened to resurrect her A-list career and she'll be back when Tarantino does KB3 in 2014.

Macaulay Culkin

 One of the most successful child stars of all time, Macaulay Culkin struggled to convert the worldwide success of the Home Alone movies into an adult career. Decent performances in films like Party Monster failed to set the box office on fire, and Culkin was last seen (well, heard) doing voices for the animated TV show Robot Chicken.

Michael Keaton

 The former Batman and Beetlejuice star has been missing from our screens for a while, unless you count co-starring in Herbie: Fully Loaded with Lindsay Lohan (we don’t, frankly). We miss Keaton’s twitchy, lip-chewing performances. He was superb in Jackie Brown: perhaps Tarantino can resurrect his career again, John Travolta-style.

Rick Moranis

 The star of Ghostbusters and Honey I Shrunk The Kids has seen his movie career perform a similar disappearing act, with innumerable shrinking sequels delivering diminishing box office returns. He effectively gave up on movies to concentrate on family in the nineties. Last seen voicing children’s cartoons.

Kelly McGillis

 As a sultry flight instructor, Kelly McGillis took Tom Cruise’s breath away in Top Gun, and two years later she showed her serious acting chops in harrowing rape drama The Accused. Hasn’t had a proper hit since, and currently spends most of her time working on stage and running a restaurant in Florida.

Judd Nelson

 A brat-pack star in the The Breakfast Club and St Elmo's Fire, Judd Nelson went on to give a strong performance in New Jack City in '91. But it all fell off after that. Entangled in '93 (Ouch!) and Caroline At Midnight in '94 (Eugh!) did not go down well with critics.

Judge Reinhold

 There was a period in the 1980s when you simply couldn’t make a comedy without casting Judge Reinhold, though he is still best known as the softly spoken Detective Rosewood of Beverley Hills Cop. Reinhold more recently appeared in Kevin Costner’s political comedy Swing Vote. If the Beverly Hills Cop reboot comes about we could be seeing a whole lot more of him soon.

Phoebe Cates

 Man, we had such a crush on Gremlins star Phoebe Cates, with her heartbreakingly pretty face and relaxed attitude to nudity (check out Fast Times at Ridgemont High). What happened to her? Well, she married Kevin Kline and had a bunch of kids. Her last screen role was in 1994’s Princess Caraboo, although she’ll be back this year for ensemble drama The Anniversary Party.

Michael J Fox

 The youthful star of the Back To The Future trilogy never quite overcame his boyish looks, but his lesser known cinema performances showcase excellent comic timing – check out The Frighteners for Fox at his funniest. A successful TV and vocal star in the 90s (he was the voice of Stuart Little), his diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease led to a semi-retirement in 2000.

Corey Feldman

 Gremlins, The Goonies, Stand By Me and The Lost Boys should have been enough to set Corey Feldman up for life (what a list!). Following a hiatus in the early 90s, he was unable to return to bigtime parts. Drugs have, famously, been an issue over the past 20 years or so for Feldman. He turns 40 this year.

Linda Fiorentino

 Fiorentino made a splash as one of modern cinema’s greatest femme fatales in the brilliant noir thriller The Last Seduction, and went on to star opposite Will Smith in Men In Black, a role she is rumoured to have won in a poker game with director Barry Sonnenfeld.  Since then her career has gradually waned, with rumours of a bust up with director Kevin Smith on the set of Dogma unlikely to have helped.

Chevy Chase

 File him under the "it-was-funny-back-then" category. He's not disappeared entirely, maintaining a stream of work in family movies and animations. But we all know him as the funny-boned slapstick man from National Lampoon's Vacation (1983), Three Amigos! (1986) and, unfortunately, Caddyshack 2 (1988).

Jeff Cohen

 Chunk! Perhaps our favourite character from The Goonies, Cohen didn't pursue acting as a grownup. He's now a successful lawyer. He's also thin!

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