Celebrities That Retired Early (Or At Least Announced It And Then Came Back)

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As we all get older and older we wish we could just quit our jobs and retire and enjoy the lives outside of the office. These celebrities actually went ahead and did it, but did they really? These are celebrities that retired early, or at least announced they were retiring. A year or two later, they were back at it! Would you retire early if you could?

Eddie Murphy

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I guess Eddie figures if he calls himself "retired" than it won't be as bad a thing when people don't go out and see the movies he stars in? At a Spike TV special recently, Eddie said, "I'm just a retired old song and dance man. That's what you do when you're retired: You come out every now and then and talk about the old days." He claims to be retired, but he released A Thousand Words in 2012 and he has three other projects in the works. Retired huh?

Magic Johnson

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Magic Johnson was an all-star basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers. In 1991 he shocked the world when he announced he was HIV-positive and immediately retiring from the NBA. He was still voted to the All Star Game that season and played, even though some players were against it. Magic announced he was returning to the NBA for the 1992-93 season, but after a few preseason games he went back into retirement after players were against his return. He made one final attempt at basketball at the end of the 1995-96 season when he played the final 32 games and the playoffs for the Lakers. After their loss in the playoffs, he retired for good.

Lance Armstrong

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Oh Lance, how we all love to hate you. The former professional cyclist was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996 and announced his retirement. In 1997 he was diagnosed cancer-free and returned to cycling in 1998. He went on to win seven straight races and then retired again in 2005. That wasn't good for him and he made a comeback in 2009 for three seasons before retiring for good in 2011. He has been fighting doping allegations ever since and the UCI stripped his titles earlier this year and banned him from cycling.


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In 2003 after his The Black Album was released, Jay-Z said that it would be the last album he would ever make. He got confused by what that meant also, because he has since gone on to sing on many albums and released two of his own and sold out tours. Does he know retired means stepping away from music?

Brett Favre

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Brett Favre was the king of the comeback. He retired from the Green Bay Packers in 2008 because he didn't have the drive. The drive came back when the team talked him into returning and then traded him to the New York Jets. He had a bad season and announced his retirement again! Not so fast, he returned again the following season with the MInnesota Vikings and made the playoffs. He played one more season, but then retired for good.

Joaquin Phoenix

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In 2008, Joaquin Phoenix announced his retirement from acting to pursue a career as a rapper! Everyone thought he was crazy (and many still do), but he returned to acting for the 2012 movie The Master. He claims the "retirement" was for his mockumentary he was recording with Casey Affleck titled I'm Still Here.

Kal Penn

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Kal Penn has flip-flopped, like a lot of politicians out there do. He asked to be written out of House, the hit Fox show he was starring in in 2009. He retired and went to work for the Obama administration. In 2010 he left the White House and returned to acting for A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. He returned to the White House afterwards, but then left again in 2011 for a role on How I Met Your Mother.

Michael Jordan

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I think Michael Jordan got confused by what the word "retired" really meant. In 1993, the basketball superstar retired to pursue a career in baseball. That lasted a year and was a flop, so he came back to the Chicago Bulls the following season and went on to win three more championship rings. He retired again in 1999. He then moved on to be part-owner of the Washington Wizards, but then in 2001 he hit the courts again, but this time as Wizard and played two more seasons, but fought injuries along the way and finally retired for good in 2003.

Evangeline Lilly

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Evangeline Lilly was a star on the hit ABC show Lost. In 2010 she announced she was retiring from acting when the show ended that season. She wanted "some quiet space." That retirement didn't last long and she returned to acting that year for the movie Real Steel. 

Jamie Lee Curtis

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In 2006, Jamie Lee Curtis announced she was retiring from acting. She said she wanted to spend more time with her family and nothing could pull her away from that. Well, apparently someone was successful because she appeared in Beverly Hills Chihuahua in 2007 and You Again in 2010. They are small roles, but she has spent most of her time writing chidrens books.

Ryan Philippe

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I think some people say they are retired because no one wants them to act in their movies. Ryan Philippe, as hot as he is, told Page Six in 2011 that he was retiring from acting because he is too introverted. Well, things change because he starred in Damages in 2012 and has three movies in production.

Clint Eastwood

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Clint Eastwood is a brilliant actor and some might wonder why is he on a retiring early list? Well, in 2008 he said that Gran Torino was the last movie he would act in. To me, he has plenty of good movies left in him and it is an early retirement. He has directed movies since, but he came out of his "retirement" this year when he directed and starred in Trouble with the Curve.

Diane Lane

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Diane Lane announced her retirement in 2008 after filming Nights in Rodanthe. She didn't listen to her own words and in 2010 she starred in Secretariat. Why announce it if you plan on acting again?

Frank Sinatra

The singer and actor announced his retirement back in 1971. It disappointed a lot of people, but it didn't last long. In 1973, Sinatra made a comeback with a television special that was hugely successful that it brought him out of retirement until the 1990's!

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