When we think of infamous recluses, the story of Howard Hughes is often the first that comes to mind. In 1947, the eccentric aviation genius and movie producer locked himself in a screening room for four months eating chocolate bars and drinking milk while living in his own filth. His lifestyle wouldn’t get any less strange over the next several decades.
However, stories like Hughes’ aren’t all that uncommon among those who live their lives in the public eye.
Like the great aviator, all of the famous people below have lived as hermits at one point or another. For them, whether they hated the constant attention or were simply extreme introverts, they took their quest for solitude to some truly extraordinary heights.
The titillating, black-banged pinup queen was one of the most photographed people of the 20th century. She helped spearhead the American sexual revolution, moving from a (mostly) innocent lingerie model to bondage and S&M fetish photo shoots.
Then in 1957, she abruptly retired and went into seclusion, becoming one of the most famous recluses of her time. Her life became so secretive for so long that many were surprised to hear of her passing in 2008 because they believed that she was already dead.
What was Bettie Page up to all this time? As it turns out, she moved to Florida and became a born-again Christian. However, the new religion didn’t mix well with her developing paranoid schizophrenia.
On three different occasions, Page assaulted or threatened acquaintances or family members with knives. At least two of these times she claims that God inspired her to do it. As a result, she spent some time in a mental institution, furthering her seclusion from the rest of the world.
She remained a recluse until her death, only making one public appearance, in 2003. The occasion? Playboy’s 50th-anniversary party.