Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder: 25 Notable Recluses

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11. John Hughes
Famous For: Movies like The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Buller’s Day Off and more
Reclusive Tendencies: He remained out of sight since the 1990s, when he quit directing and moved back to the Chicago suburbs, choosing to focus on his family life and leave Hollywood behind. Though he wrote Maid in Manhattan, which starred J.Lo, and came up with the idea for Owen Wilson’s Drillbit Taylor, Hughes did his best to maintain a separation from showbiz until his death last year.

12. Harper Lee
Famous For: Her first and only novel, To Kill a Mockingbird
Reclusive Tendencies: Although she’s popped up in recent years to write an essay for O magazine and receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush, Lee has spent most of the time since her debut out of the spotlight. The childhood friend of Truman Capote hasn’t given an interview in more than four decades and never published another novel.

13. Sly Stone
Famous For: Fronting Sly and the Family Stone, which produced classics like “Everyday People” and “Dance to the Music”
Reclusive Tendencies: Stone’s 2006 performance at the Grammys was his first on-stage appearance in nearly 20 years. Like Howard Hughes, Stone’s disappearance from the public eye was so complete for so long that, for a while, many believed him to be dead. Legal problems, drugs and an expensive fall-out with his former manager, against whom he recently filed a lawsuit, kept Stone underground and out of the media. Recent years have brought what Mojo magazine referred to as “Sly’s renaissance”—with two documentaries about him on the way with year and a new record deal with Cleopatra Records, Stone is poised for a return.

14. Bobby Fischer
Famous For: Considered by many to be the best chess player of all time, Fischer was was the youngest Grandmaster ever at age 15
Reclusive Tendencies: Suffering from trust issues, Fischer shunned intense public interest in him, refusing to defend his title of World Chess Champion three years after it was awarded to him in 1972. In 1992, defying orders from the United States to honor a trade embargo against the former Yugoslavia, Fischer played Boris Spassky, the man he defeated to win the world championship, in Belgrade. The U.S. revoked his passport, and he was granted citizenship in Iceland, where he’d won the World Chess Championship as a young man. He spent the rest of his days there, scruffy and embittered, popping up to spout the occasional anti-American, anti-Semitic diatribe. After his death, the distribution of his estate was hotly contested when a woman with whom he’d had an affair as a younger man claimed that he had fathered her daughter and sought an inheritance for her.

15. Daniel Day-Lewis
Famous For: His Oscar-winning performance in 1989’s My Left Foot; more recently, his stunning turn as Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood
Reclusive Tendencies: Perhaps the thing that most suggests Day-Lewis as a recluse is that he’s widely considered to be one. A remark years ago about his “lifelong study in evasion” trails after him to this day. However, Day-Lewis simply prefers to stay at home and raise his young sons as normally as possible. “How can you be a recluse in a house full of children?” he asked in an interview with The Guardian in 2008. How indeed.

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