Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder: 25 Notable Recluses

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16. Michael Jackson
Famous For: The Moonwalk, Thriller, that glove and so many other things we miss
Reclusive Tendencies: Once the world’s most beloved superstar, Jackson shrank from the public eye after he was acquitted in 2005 of child molestation. The last years of his life found “Jacko,” as the tabloids called him, scrutinized for his plastic surgery, parenting choices, spending habits and relationship with children. His seclusion in his Neverland Ranch, complete with carnival rides and a zoo, only added to the mystery and suspicion surrounding the star, who died at 50 last year on the eve of a comeback tour.

17. The Wachowski siblings
Famous For: Creating and directing The Matrix trilogy; writing and producing V for Vendetta
Reclusive Tendencies: Although they continue to make movies (rumor has it they’re currently working on an adaptation of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas), the Wachowskis typically avoid interviews and generally keep to themselves. A 2006 Rolling Stone article on the mysterious duo focuses on brother Larry’s relationship with a dominatrix and, later, his sex change. A few months ago, a photo surfaced of a pink-haired Lana (formerly Larry) Wachowski, posing with her brother and Ariana Huffington on the set of the Wachowski’s new film. With one of the most successful movie franchises of the last decade, the Wachowskis could have had a celebrity to match that of other A-list directors, but they shied away. “Larry and Andy were always into the concept of suppression, of suppressing oneself,” Marcus Chong, who played Tank in The Matrix, told Rolling Stone. “One of their big directorial notes was ‘Be stoic. Never show your true self.”

18. Syd Barrett
Famous For: Founding Pink Floyd with Roger Waters and writing much of the band’s early material
Reclusive Tendencies: Just before Pink Floyd reached international stardom, Barrett suffered a breakdown related to his extensive use of psychedelics, particularly LSD. He quickly left the band and retreated to Cambridge in England, granting no interviews since the 1970s and living off the royalties from Pink Floyd. He died from cancer in 2006.

19. Johnny Carson
Famous For: Hosting NBC’s The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson from 1962-1992
Reclusive Tendencies: Carson, who once told a reporter, “I’m not gregarious. I’m a loner,” dropped from the public eye after his retirement, reportedly in fear of growing old in public. Severe medical conditions, including a quadruple bypass in 1998 and his battle with emphysema, further solidified his removal from the limelight until his death in 2005.

20. Dave Chappelle
Famous For: The riotous and short-lived sketch-comedy series The Dave Chappelle Show on Comedy Central
Reclusive Tendencies: In 2005, midway through filming the third season of his megahit TV show, Chappelle flew the coop, resurfacing in Durban, South Africa, a few weeks later. The funnyman cited issues of trust within his inner circle for his need for a break, saying, “During my ascent, I’ve seen other people go through that wall to become really big. They always said that fame didn’t change them but that it changes the people around them. You always hear that but you never really understand it. But now that I’m there that makes a lot of sense and I’m learning what that means. You have to have people around you that you can trust and aren’t just out for a meal ticket.” He never returned to The Dave Chappelle Show.

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