When celebrities decide to unretire

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If you were reading the Twitter messages of actress Amanda Bynes on June 19 — and why wouldn’t you be? — you read the following:

I know 24 is a young age to retire but you heard it here first I’ve #retired

Retiring at 24 seems hasty to me. Bynes, whose roles include Nickelodeon’s “All That” and the feature film “What a Girl Wants,” might stick to her word and stay out of the film industry for the rest of her life. After all, at her age and with her (presumed) wealth, she has the chance to pursue many other opportunities. Still, if you’re in your 30s, think about the decisions you made in your 20s. Chances are they weren’t always wise decisions. After all, Bynes did announce her retirement under the Twitter handle Chicky, which sounds like a name she might rethink when she’s older.

Time will tell if Bynes can resist the lure of the industry forever.

If she decides to backtrack on her plans, she’ll be in good company

*Update* She’s back!

Many celebrities have announced their retirement only to revive their careers shortly after. You can’t blame someone for realizing that life isn’t as exciting when they’re not doing the thing they love the most. However, celebrity retirements and unretirements are interesting to compare to the professional exits of your regular, everyday worker. Many people worry that they won’t have enough money to retire. Others push off retirement for several reasons. Perhaps they don’t want to spend their days on hobbies and want to stay in the field, so they switch to part-time or contractor status. Many employers ask their would-be retirees to stay on at the company until the new batch of workers has the knowledge and skill to replace them. And many retirees who like their quiet time at home don’t want their spouses ruining their golden years, so they don’t allow them to completely retire.

Here is a list of notable retirements that didn’t last very long.

Muhammad Ali
After an unprecedented boxing career, Muhammad Ali retired in 1979. The man had beaten virtually every boxer in the world at that point, so it made sense to go out on a high note. However, the next year he decided to fight Larry Holmes and another year later to take on Trevor Berbick before finally retiring for good.

Lily Allen
File this retirement under TBD. Last year Lily Allen wrote in a blog post that she wouldn’t record another album. She also decided to give up social media, which meant pausing her MySpace page and Twitter account. Then she came back to  Twitter earlier this year and has composed new music for other projects since, in addition to appearing at awards shows. She says she still won’t be writing and recording music for albums that she plans to release herself, so this might be the promise of a pseudo-retirement that she keeps.

Garth Brooks
In the 1990s, Garth Brooks managed to make country music palatable for an audience that often dismissed it as a lesser genre. He sold records and concert tickets at historic rates and then decided to retire in 2000. He decided to walk away from touring and releasing new albums until his youngest daughter was 18. Aside from performing a few charity shows and releasing box sets of older material, Brooks kept his promise. Last year he announced his return to live shows by doing a residency in Las Vegas. He’s neither touring nor making a new album, so he’s only somewhat out of retirement. For now.

Brett Favre
In March 2008, Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre announced his retirement after 17 years in football. During that summer, Favre gave interviews suggesting he would be returning to football the following season, and, after some turbulent discussions, he was traded to the New York Jets. Following a short stint with the team, he moved to the Minnesota Vikings. Talk of retirement surfaced again earlier this year, so his future remains to be seen.

Jay-Z
When one of the most famous rappers of all time announced his retirement with the release of 2003’s The Black Album, people scoffed. Sure, Jay-Z would be going out on top with a career spanning eight albums and hits, not to mention critical praise and millions of fans. Plus, a year later he was named president of Def Jam Records. So Jay-Z didn’t need to work, but in late 2006 he released a new album and has only gained popularity since. In fairness to Jay-Z, he told Entertainment Weekly, “It was the worst retirement, maybe, in history.”

Michael Jordan
Few athletes have the iconic status of former Chicago Bulls player Michael Jordan. For that reason, Jordan’s retirement on October 6, 1993 was watched by everyone. Unsurprisingly, his return to the Bulls was watched just as closely less than two years later. After deciding to retire one more time from the game in 1999, Jordan said he was 99.9 percent sure he wouldn’t play another NBA game. Of course, that pesky 0.1 percent pulled him from retirement in 2001 when he decided to join the Washington Wizards. He retired once again in 2003, so this one might be the retirement that actually sticks.

Frank Sinatra
When Frank Sinatra announced his retirement in 1970, he was already a legend. With his Rat Pack days and a series of memorable songs behind him, he could’ve stepped out of the limelight and still be considered an icon today. However, in 1973, he decided three years of retirement was enough and returned to music with “Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back.” He continued to record for the next three decades. In 1980 he recorded a rendition of “Theme from New York, New York,” which went on to become a signature song and a staple of New York City’s soundtrack. Maybe coming out of retirement was good for him (and the Yankees) after all.

So, will your retirement be a done deal or do you think you’ll be tempted to return to work? Any other celebs whose unretirement we forgot to include?

30 Comments
  1. Imagine if Michael Jordan came back again? haha. He was barely a valuable player when he played in Washington. Kids would be saying, “THIS is the best player of all-time? Crown LeBron as the best ever!”

    I think Amanda Bynes is just trying to build a Favre-like hype for when she makes a triumphant return this fall as a “mature” character in some mediocre Hollywood movie.

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