When Celebrity Retirements Don't Quite Stick

When a celebrity athlete, actor or musician calls it quits, there's often a bit of fanfare — a big announcement, a farewell tour, maybe an exit interview. But then, the retirement doesn't always stick. Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne round up some celebrity retirement reversals.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And long time PBS news anchor Bill Moyers says his show will go off the air in January. His announcement yesterday sounded familiar to his fans because he's retired before. In fact, twice before.

BILL MOYERS: "The Journal" comes to an end with this broadcast.

MONTAGNE: That's the sound of Moyers' 2010 retirement, which didn't last.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Bill is back. "Moyers & Company."

MOYERS: Welcome. I'm glad we could get together again. It's good to be back.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now that Moyers is done being back, we've been thinking about celebrity retirements that didn't last. Stephen King has written about a dozen books since he announced his retirement in 2002.

MONTAGNE: The list of athletes who got back in the game is a long one - Brett Favre, Michael Jordan, Brett Favre, Mohammed Ali, Brett Favre. Sugar Ray Leonard hung up his gloves and then took them down several times before he really retired in 1997.

INSKEEP: It was also the year that Daniel Day Lewis left acting and moved to Italy, where he studied as an apprentice shoemaker.

MONTAGNE: Many musicians have dramatically retired and then dramatically returned, Tina Turner, Jay-Z and KISS.

INSKEEP: The editor of MORNING EDITION, David McGuffin(ph), remembers the retirement of The Who. He recorded their last concert in 1982 by holding a tape recorder to the TV set. David, if you want to see them live, they are coming to D.C. in two weeks.

MONTAGNE: Then there's Frank Sinatra, who retired in 1971, then returned two years later with a television special.

(SOUNDBITE OF TELEVISION SPECIAL)

FRANK SINATRA: You may wonder why I gave it all up in the first place. Well, what can I tell you? It seemed like a very good idea at the time, that I would just loaf and play golf. But after two years of playing golf, I'm still a 17 handicap? That's not possible. And silly crazy things like I put in an overseas call a few months back and the operator asked me for my name. And I told her. She said spell it.

MONTAGNE: That would be S-I-N-A-T-R-A, who kept performing into the 1990s.

INSKEEP: Finally, we think, Cher's farewell tour was in 2002. Eleven years later, she just released her 25th album and talked about it on the "Today" show with Savannah Guthrie.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TODAY")

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Do you think about the fact that you've been in this business now almost five decades?

CHER: Would you think about that?

GUTHRIE: Do you reflect on it?

CHER: Never.

MONTAGNE: Maybe that's the best. And in any case, the fans of the unretired rarely complain.

INSKEEP: Let us know of other temporary retirements on Facebook and Twitter. Find us @MorningEdition, @NPRGreene, @NPRInskeep. This is NPR News.

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