Kristy McNichol, Popular Actress of the 70s and 80s, Explains Why She Walked Away From Hollywood

Kristy McNichol, 52, was one of the most popular actresses during the 1970s and 80s when she suddenly decided to walk away from Hollywood.

It came as quite a shock for fans of her movies, which included the wildly popular Little Darlings with Tatum O’Neill and Matt Dillon, and TV shows like Family and Empty Nest.

On Wednesday night, McNichol attended a cast reunion of another popular show of the era in which she frequently guest-starred — the Love Boat. The cast came together to celebrate 50 years of Princess Cruises and to christen a new Regal Princess cruise ship.

During the celebration, McNichol told People Magazine in an interview that she left show business to “see what else was out there.”

“I was on the big stage between ages eight and 30,” said McNichol. “I left show business for a variety of reasons, but a big one was my interest in learning what else there is in life.”

The former actress said that during her self-imposed hiatus from acting she discovered “yoga, traveling, an increased awareness of spirituality and a quiet home life,” according to People. She also works for United Way.

“This phase of my life is so good,” she told the magazine. “My home life is happy and serene. I love singing. I also enjoy traveling and seeing the world. One of my favorite stops is Hawaii. I like everything about it and may eventually move there part-time.”

McNichol shared that she loved catching up with all the Love Boat celebrities.

“I was most excited to see Rich Little, who always makes me laugh,” she says. “He was talking about losing his hair and got me laughing hysterically. He looks fabulous, and so does Charo. She is unreal, with all that energy!”

McNichol said that a friendship with Happy DaysScott Baio that she developed on the set of the popular television show has remained a favorite memory from those by-gone days.

“We met during shooting, and for the next three years we hung out off set, too,” McNichol says. “We became real friends, good buddies. We did things together like ride around in his red Cadillac. We had so much fun. I wished he could have come to this celebration, but he was busy.”

Asked if she would consider returning to acting, the former teen idol gave a little hope to fans who remember her well.

“Never say never,” she said.

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