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These Stunning Celebrity Comebacks Will Make Any Fan’s Day

Celebrity Comebacks

When former Hollywood sensations fade from the spotlight, many often wonder what happened to them. Did they leave the limelight behind entirely, or did they just settle for a smaller audience? Sometimes fans never really find out the truth behind their favorite star’s decline, while other times it could be something scandalous. But when stars reemerge from the shadows, they tend to do so full guns blazing. Read on to find out about the most stunning celebrity comebacks.

1. Matthew McConaughey

At the height of his career, Matthew McConaughey was known for portraying arresting roles in gritty and envelope-pushing films. He first captured audiences in 1993 in Dazed and Confused. After that, he went on to appear in the films Larger Than Life, Amistad, and A Time to Kill. In the early 2000s, however, McConaughey’s obtained roles in films a little more lighthearted than he was used to, movies like Failure to Launch, The Wedding Planner, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and critics regarded these films poorly overall.

Celebrity Comebacks

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Right when his career appeared to be stuck in a perpetual nosedive, McConaughey made a surprising return to the spotlight. He abandoned rom-com projects and returned to the more serious work that earned him recognition as an actor in the first place. It was in 2013 when the actor made a lasting impression for his performance in the moving drama, Dallas Buyers Club. His role as Ron Woodruff scored him unprecedented acclaim from critics and moviegoers alike. He took home numerous awards for Best Actor, most notably Golden Globe, a Critics’ Choice Movie Award, and of course, the coveted Academy Award.

2. Drew Barrymore

Perhaps no actress knows Hollywood better than Drew Barrymore. She started acting at a very young age, starting with small projects, such as commercials. In 1982, she received her big break when she scored the role of Gertie in E.T. the Extraterrestrial, which has since been crowned as the highest grossing film to be released during the ’80s. She went on to win the Young Artist Award for Best Actress.

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She became legally emancipated from her parents and moved into her own apartment at the age of 14. In 1991, she published an autobiography Little Girl Lost that chronicles her life as an actress and the fickle journey she endured. Since then, she made a stunning comeback and has landed roles in countless films and taken home several awards. She also claims that her interesting childhood has made her an even better mother to her two daughters today.

3. Macaulay Culkin

Macauly Culkin became a child star for his role as Kevin McCallister in the family comedy films Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. This landed the star many roles in other movies such as Uncle BuckMy GirlThe Good Son, The Pagemaster, Richie Rich, and Party Monster. Culkin also starred in Michael Jackson’s music video for the hit song “Black or White.”

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Culkin disappeared off the screen. After a long break, Culkin returned to acting in 2000 in the play Madame Melville on London’s West End. Since then, he has made appearances on TV shows and commercials, but his most stunning comeback was in 2013 when a video went viral of him munching away at a cheese pizza. The video was in promotion of his new rock band Pizza Underground, which began touring in 2014. On July 10, 2016, Culkin announced that the band split up.

4. Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart, founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, has managed to maintain her reputation as an enduring American television personality, writer, publisher, and successful businesswoman in broadcasting, merchandising, and e-commerce.

Celebrity Comebacks

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In 2005, Martha Stewart was able to return to the spotlight and continued to pursue her career despite all the rumors of her media empire’s collapse. She penned several bestselling books, hosted the two successful TV shows, Martha and Martha Stewart Living, and is the publisher of the magazine Martha Stewart Living. She has now partnered up with Snoop Dogg to host the VH1 cooking show Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party.

5. Winona Ryder

Winona Ryder first got the world’s attention for her portrayal of Lydia Deetz in the classic Tim Burton film Beetlejuice. From then on, she flourished as a young actress with her performance in the 1993 film The Age of Innocence, which scored her both an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe win. She saw even more success in 1994 when she earned yet another Academy Award nomination for her exceptional performance in Little Women and gained even more fame for her role in Girl Interrupted in 1999.

Celebrity Comebacks

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In recent years, Winona Ryder has made a comeback, retained a devout fan base, and even gained some new followers. This especially holds true thanks to the success of the recent Netflix series Stranger Things, which has resonated with both critics and the average viewer.

6. Ellen DeGeneres

In the ’90s, Ellen DeGeneres was the ideal television personality. Few could deny her charm in her own series Ellen, which lasted five seasons. The show received consistent praise from critics and was well loved by fans. Out of the 10 times the show was nominated for Primetime Emmy Awards, Degeneres won three. Sadly, when Ellen came out as gay on The Oprah Winfrey Show, some people did not take well to the news.

Celebrity Comebacks

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The news on her sexual orientation resulted in less success for her sitcom, which ultimately led to its cancellation. However, DeGeneres is known for her positive energy and bottomless charisma. As such, she was not one to give up in the face of adversity. DeGeneres began her own talk show called The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which first premiered in 2003. The rest is history, of course, as the show is still going strong today. In fact, she has won over 30 Daytime Emmy Awards for the show

7. Goldie Hawn

She may be the wonderful mother of the fabulous Kate Hudson, however, Goldie Hawn is so much more than that. She is quite the actress herself, appearing in several films throughout the late ’60s and ’70s, and saw her career flourish well into the ’90s. The height of her career was perhaps her role in the 1969 film Cactus Flower, for which she won both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award.

Celebrity Comebacks

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She remained the mentor of her daughter’s. However, she did make something of a comeback recently, starring in her first film in years. It premiered in 2017 and is entitled Snatched. The plot opens with when a young woman, played by Amy Schumer, is dumped by her boyfriend just before they are supposed to head out on a romantic and exotic vacation. Desperate to still enjoy what paradise has to offer, she persuades her paranoid mother (Hawn) to accompany her for a trip of a lifetime.

8. Alec Baldwin

Perhaps it is no surprise that Alec Baldwin has accomplished himself as a premier actor. His performances have helped popularize several films that might have fallen into obscurity with a lesser actor’s name attached. In 1988, he delighted audiences in Tim Burton’s comedy classic, Beetlejuice. Two years later, he took the world of cinema by storm as Jack Ryan in the Cold War-centered film The Hunt for Red October. But not everything remained rosy throughout Baldwin’s career.

Celebrity Comebacks

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After weathering a number of challenges, Alec Baldwin managed to make something of an impressive comeback. In 2006, he took on the role of Jack Donaghy on the NBC series 30 Rock, a series that endured for a healthy seven seasons. During that time, Baldwin scored three Golden Globes, two Emmy Awards, and an impressive count of Screen Actors Guild Awards.

9. John Travolta

In 1977, John Travolta showed off his best dance moves in Saturday Night Fever. A year later, he had us tapping our toes and singing along in the hit movie musical film Grease. For a while, John Travolta was in many respects on the top of the world. Despite some slower periods in the ’80s, John Travolta has shown again and again that he can bounce back with the same energy and affable personality every time.

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In 1994, he returned to the scene to much applause as Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction. From then on, he continued to take on ambitious roles in critically acclaimed films and eventually won his first Golden Globe for his role in the 1995 comedy Get Shorty. He has been going strong ever since, pursuing endeavors beyond acting. In fact, in 2016, he took home a Primetime Emmy for his work as producer on the series American Crime Story.

10. Britney Spears

When most ’90s kids think back to that halcyon decade they think upbeat pop music, and Britney Spears provided just that. In fact, because of her success, she was crowned the “best-selling teenage artist of all time.” She won everything from a Grammy to a Lifetime Achievement Award. But alas, even the seemingly unstoppable Britney Spears had her breaking point.

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The Princess of Pop managed to bounce back as glamorous as ever, even at the age of 35. She still tours and has even released a couple new albums over the past few years. She also served as a judge on X Factor in 2012.

11. Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham’s claim to fame will always be Posh Spice from the sensational ’90s all-girls group, Spice Girls. Once the band fell apart and the 2000s rolled around, however, things were not looking up for Beckham. After all, she was not exactly considered the star of Spice Girls. But, there was lots in store for her when she married David Beckham in 1999.

Celebrity Comebacks

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Fortunately, she has found her place in the world of fashion and design. She has established herself as a designer worthy of a place in the fickle fashion industry and turns heads with her innovative style. In 2011, her special brand received the title of the UK’s designer brand of the year.

12. Jason Bateman

In the ’80s, just about any television buff could identify Jason Bateman. Not to mention, he also got quite a bit of attention for his role in the 1987 film Teen Wolf Too, a sequel to the hit movie that premiered in 1985. He is probably also most renowned for his role in the television classics Silver Spoons, Little House on the Prairie, and The Hogan Family.

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After living out a gilded childhood of stardom, Jason Bateman slowly faded into the backdrop. However, he stunned everyone when he made a comeback as Michael Bluth in the popular sitcom, Arrested Development. He also provided the voice for fox  Nick Wilde in the critically acclaimed Disney flick Zootopia.

13. Natasha Lyonne

Most know Natasha Lyonne as the beautiful Jessica from the American Pie film series. However, she has appeared in several other films as well including Slums of Beverly Hills, But I’m a Cheerleader, and Everyone Says I Love You. Sadly, Lyonne’s career went quieter once the 2000s came around.

Celebrity Comebacks

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Remarkably, Natasha Lyonne has made a comeback in the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black, in which she playes Nicky Nichols. The role earned her a Primetime Emmy nomination.

14. Nicole Richie

Most people probably remember Nicole Richie from the Fox show The Simple Life, a show that drew several million viewers on the night of its premiere. Richie starred along her childhood friend Paris Hilton, and the two made the perfect team on the show which lasted for five seasons.

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However, even some of the strongest friendships cannot stand the test of time, especially when a factor as lofty as stardom interferes. Things started looking up for Richie in 2014 when she got her own reality show on VH1, aptly entitled Candidly Nicole.

15. Paula Abdul

If you were an avid viewer of American Idol, you likely remember Paula Abdul as the nice judge. She was always there to soften the curt blows delivered by her ruthless co-star Simon Cowell. In the ’80s and ’90s, Abdul consistently reached the top of the Billboard Top 100 with hit after hit. She rivals only Diana Ross for the number of hits she enjoyed, which was a total of six.

Celebrity Comebacks

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For Abdul, her comeback on American Idol was arguably just what she needed to revitalize her career, which had remained stagnant for sometime. She was also a guest judge on the 10th season of So You Think You Can Dance in 2013 and then went on to become a permanent judge on the Australian version of the show.

16. Betty White

So many fans joke about Betty White’s immortality, or at least how she ages at a slower pace than the average human being. After all, how does she manage to maintain her good looks and remain her sharp and witty self?

Celebrity Comebacks

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Who could forget a woman who has been in the show business since the ’40s, with a career that has lasted about 7.5 decades?  She played the unforgettable Rose in The Golden Girls, which ran from 1985 to 1992. Before that, she was Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Both of these roles earned her Emmy Awards, but that was not the extent of her success and acclaim. In total, she has won eight Emmy Awards, as well as a Grammy, three American Comedy Awards, and more. Don’t forget that she is still alive and kicking at the age 95!

17. Joaquin Phoenix

Perhaps it is a bit too convenient to say that, as his name suggests, Joaquin Phoenix has risen from the ashes. As a child star, he made a promising name for himself as Leaf Phoenix. Sadly, he had to put his career on hold for a personal tragedy after his brother died in 1993.

Celebrity Comebacks

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Nonetheless, Joaquin Phoenix returned to the scene in the late ’90s and early 2000s. He was even nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in the critically acclaimed film Gladiator. He has continued to pursue daring projects, perhaps notably in the leading role of the 2013 film Her.

18. Neil Patrick Harris

Most remember Neil Patrick Harris as that the adorable and precocious Dr. Doogie Howser from the early ’90s sitcom Doogie Howser, MD. After picking up odd projects here and there, perhaps most notably Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog in 2008, some might not have expected Harris to rise to the same level of fame he enjoyed as a kid.

Celebrity Comebacks

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He proved many wrong, however. Over the course of nine healthy seasons, Harris played the role of Barney Stinson in the critically acclaimed sitcom How I Met Your Mother. His performance has earned him four Emmy Awards nominations. Most recently, he has established himself as the nefarious but sometimes comical Count Olaf on Netflix’s Series of Unfortunate Events.

19. Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr. was thrust into the spotlight at a very young age. He was just five when he had his first move role in Pound, a film written and directed by his father. He continued to hone in on his acting skills and established himself as a teen actor in the films Less Than Zero and Weird Science, both released in the ’80s. Downey Jr. saw even more success as an actor when in 1992, he took the spotlight in the drama Chaplin and was nominated for an Academy Award.

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Fortunately, he was able to turn himself around when he appeared in the Fox drama Ally McBeal as a romantic interest. This role scored him a Golden Globe. In 2007, things started looking up for him again when he starred in the film Zodiac, which performed fairly well at the box office. His career improved even more in 2008 when he appeared in the film Tropic Thunder, a role for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. Today, he is perhaps best known as Iron Man in the Marvel-inspired films.

20. Vanessa Williams

Vanessa Williams has done a lot over the course over her career. However, she is perhaps best known for claiming the title of Miss America in 1983, making her the first African-American woman to take the prestigious award.

Celebrity Comebacks

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Later on, she released an album entitled The Right Stuff. It fared pretty well and even featured one song that reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100. She saw even more success with the two albums that followed. Williams found success as a singer and earned numerous Grammy nominations.

21. Rob Lowe

In the ’80s, Rob Lowe appeared in several films that are still regarded as highly today as they were upon their release. These films include The Outsiders, St. Elmo’s Fire, and Oxford Blues. He was the quintessential teen star, but unfortunately he could not maintain the same level of fame as an adult. But all hope was not lost for him.

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Perhaps one thing that helped Rob Lowe was his attitude. Soon, Rob Lowe was able to establish himself as an actor once more, and this time on television. His appearance on the NBC drama The West Wing earned him two Golden Globe Award nominations and a Primetime Emmy Award nomination. His most notable recent role is perhaps as Chris Traeger in the hit comedy series Parks & Recreation.

22. Martin Lawrence

Throughout the ’90s, Martin Lawrence established himself as a likable actor. He appeared in such works as Bad Boys, House Party, and Wild Hogs. He also made a name for himself on the Fox sitcom Martin.

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However, he sit a snag in 1995 when he got into an altercation on set of A Thin Line Between Love and Hate. Eventually, he cleaned up and found his niche with the Big Momma’s House film franchise.

23. Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck rose to prominence in 1997 as the co-writer of the critically acclaimed film Good Will Hunting, in which he also starred. He won a Golden Globe for this feat. He went on to star in as Pearl Harbor, Armageddon, and Forces of Nature; films that performed pretty well at the box office.

Celebrity Comebacks

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After this stint of success, Ben Affleck fumbled. For a while, he was engaged to Jennifer Lopez and launched a project with her. He has since maintained his status as a top-tier actor, thanks to the success of Argo, which he directed and co-produced.

24. Chevy Chase

A comedian by trade, Chevy Chase was a major asset to the original Saturday Night Live crew, and his sketch Weekend Update continues to be a defining feature on the show. Chase has been nominated for five Primetime Emmy Awards and was won three. He also made an irreplaceable Clark Griswold in the famous National Lampoon’s Vacation film series.

Celebrity Comebacks

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He managed to make a humble comeback in 2009 as Piece Hawthorn in the NBC series Community. The series ran until 2012.

25. Mickey Rourke

Mickey Rourke had his hand in numerous pots and pursued just about any endeavor you can imagine. Some might know him primarily as a professional boxer, while others might recognize him from the films Rumble Fish, Diner, and Barfly. In any case, Rourke officially left boxing in 1994 to devote all of his time to promoting his acting career.

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Little did Rourke know that he would be able to combine his expertise in both areas in 2008. That year, he appeared in the sports drama The Wrestler as the leading role and earned much critical acclaim as a result. He was nominated for an Academy Award and won a Golden Globe.

26. Nicolas Cage

What is not to love about Nicolas Cage? When he rises to the occasion, he can be an incredibly engaging actor. But even when he fumbles, Cage manages to remain charming and distinctly, well, Nick Cage. But even this inimitable actor has seen less favorable times.

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Cage perhaps reached the height of his career in 1995, when he scored an Academy Award for his role as Ben Sanderson in the film Leaving Las Vegas. However, with highs come lows, and Cage certainly experienced some lows following that win, career wise. He had a particular bad streak with critics with the films that followed. However, he has since managed to rise from that slump and continues to make just about any role his own.

27. Jared Leto

Jared Leto established himself as quite the artful actor in the ’90s. In 1994, he assumed the role of Jordan Catalano in the ABC drama My So-Called Life. Leto also appeared in several critically acclaimed films, most notably American Psycho, Fight Club, and The Thin Red Line.

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For a while, Jared Leto left acting in pursuit of a music career with his band Thirty Seconds to Mars, which he founded with his brother Shannon. He believed the band was destined for greater things. He surprised everyone in 2013 when he returned to the big screen in the film Dallas Buyers Club, a role that earned him both a Golden Globe and an Oscar. He most recently appeared in the cult favorite Suicide Squad, as the Joker.

28. Mayim Bialik

In the ’90s, Mayim Bialik captured America’s heart in the NBC sitcom Blossom, on which she was the star of the show. The show lasted fruitful five seasons. For a while, this was the only credit Bialik had to her name. She still had work doing minor projects such as voice-overs and guest appearances, but nothing substantial or long-term.

Celebrity Comebacks

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In 2010, however, all that changed. Bialik hit it big once more as Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on the very popular sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This role has earned Bialik four Emmy nominations. It is also worth noting that Mayim Bialik is a trained neuroscientist in real life, just as she is on the show.

29. Kiefer Sutherland

In the ’80s, Kiefer Sutherland established himself as an actor worth watching. While he got his start in a Canadian drama entitled The Bay Boy, his first international success was in the 1986 film Stand By Me. From then on, he continued to perform with his excellent acting skills in films such as A Time to Kill, A Few Good Men, and The Three Musketeers.

Celebrity Comebacks

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Sutherland acted prolifically throughout the ’90s, however, his films started to fare more poorly with critics. Then in 2001, he landed the role of Jack Bauer in the Fox television series 24. The series lasted nine seasons, and Sutherland earned several awards for his performance, including a Golden Globe, an Emmy, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards.

30. Matt LeBlanc

Who can forget the affable Joey from the hit series Friends? His character was played by no other than the inimitable Matt LeBlanc, and he was nominated for several Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Joey. But once the show wrapped up in 2004, LeBlanc was without direction. He struggled to land any new major roles and was just riding out the glory that remained from his Friends days.

Celebrity Comebacks

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Then, in 2011, he hit the jackpot when he landed the role of … Mattt LeBlanc in the British-American series entitled Episodes. After a run of five seasons, the show ended in 2016. It received lots of praise along the way. In fact, LeBlanc even won a Golden Globe for his work on the show, as well as several Primetime Emmy Award nominations. So much for living out your glory days!

31. Michael Keaton

It’s safe to say that Tim Burton established Michael Keaton’s career in the ’80s with the films Batman and Batman Returns. Keaton left the Batman franchise and continued to star in films during the late ’90s and early 2000s, namely: Jackie Brown and Multiplicity, but this is when he started to fade from the spotlight with more “obscure” roles.

Celebrity Comebacks

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Keaton’s comeback was nothing less than stunning. In 2014, he starred in Birdman, which brought home four academy awards in 2015 for best picture, best director, best original screenplay, and best cinematography. Keaton’s stellar performance earned him a nomination for the Best Actor category. He also bagged a Golden Globe Award and two Critics’ Choice Awards for the role and received several other nominations. His latest accolade was in 2016, when he was named Officer of Order of Arts and Letters in France.

32. Jimmy Fallon

For Jimmy Fallon, it all started with his stand-up comedy career and his six-year run as a cast member on the NBC’s Saturday Night Live. As far as he was concerned, landing a role on the show in 1998 was his lifelong dream. When he left the show in 2004 for the film industry, he landed roles in Taxi and Fever Pitch, but those roles didn’t particularity bring him too much fame and glory.

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In 2009, Fallon returned to his niche and made an incredible comeback as the host of NBC’s Late Night, which is well-known for its focus on games and music. Fallon then moved on to become a permanent host on the show The Tonight Show in 2014. He also has two comedy albums and five books.

33. David Caruso

When it comes to TV crime shows, David Caruso is the man. He kicked off his career in the 80’s with the film Getting Wasted and spent the rest of the decade playing supporting roles in films and a recurring role as Tommy Mann on Hill Street Blues. Caruso’s first major role was in 1993 as detective John Kelly on the ABC crime drama NYPD Blue, for which he won a Golden Globe Award. When he decided to leave the show only a year later because he didn’t get the raise he wanted, his career took a bit of a slump.

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During the late ’90s, Caruso struggled to land any leading roles in films and in 1997 returned to television shows. His stunning comeback was in 2002 when he took the role as police lieutenant Horatio Caine in the spinoff of the CSI series, CSI:Miami. The show ran for 10 years, and he became the first actor of the series franchise to act as the same character on three of the four CSI programs.

34. Patrick Dempsey

The early ’80s saw great success for the exuberant Patrick Dempsey who landed successful roles in the films Loverboy and Can’t Buy Me Love. He stole the hearts of fans for his somewhat charming college guy stereotype, but slowly faded behind the scenes during the ’90s with smaller roles in films.

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It was in 2005 that Dempsey returned to the scene full guns blazing as the dreamy Dr. Derek Shepherd on the hit show Grey’s Anatomy. This new-age hunk is better known as McDreamy, and following his departure from the show, worked on other projects for the small-screen, namely: The Limit and Fodors.

35. Sylvester Stallone

Unlike most celebrities, Sylvester Stallone’s stunning comeback actually took place before his rise to stardom. In the late ’70s, the actor really struggled to make anything of himself. Sylvester refused to apply for a normal job and insisted on becoming an actor, but to no avail. It was not until he went to watch the boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner that his life changed forever.

Celebrity Comebacks

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Stallone was so inspired by the boxing match that he decided to pen the screenplay Rocky. He wrote the text by hand in just three days; some even say he completed it in 20 hours. When producers caught wind of his piece they offered to pay him up to $265,000 for the script but he downright refused because he wanted to star in his own film. The producers agreed to let him act in the film, but dropped the price by a significant amount. The rest was history! A year later, he became the third actor in history to claim both the Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay Academy Awards for the same film. From then on his career in Hollywood was secured.

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