The Tragic Incident That Caused Molly Ringwald To Quit Hollywood

In the 1980s, Molly Ringwald was the most famous name in Hollywood. Before the era of “Arianators” and “Beliebers,” there was a group of fans known as the “Ringlets.” These individuals worshiped the red-haired starlet as their cinematic God.

But just as her career began to flourish, Ringwald decided to quit Hollywood. The reason behind her decision, unfortunately, is rather upsetting. Keep reading to find out what led the actor to leave Hollywood for several years.

Molly Ringwald as Frannie Goldsmith
Molly Ringwald as Frannie Goldsmith | CBS via Getty Images

Molly Ringwald was John Hughes’ muse

Ringwald credits the late director John Hughes for giving her a career in the film industry. Hughes wrote the entire screenplay for Sixteen Candles with Ringwald in mind, before he ever even met her in person. He had found a headshot of the young actor and felt inspired by her face. 

Molly Ringwald
Molly Ringwald | Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

The incident is best described in the Brat Pack memoir written by Susannah Gora:

“In the quiet Chicago suburb of Northbrook, Illinois, a young writer named John Hughes sat at his desk typing furiously. Staring down at him from the wall was a photograph- a headshot of a young actress he’d never met. This actress has soulful eyes, pouting lips, and red hair. She was lanky, freckled, sort of like a girl in a Norman Rockwell painting. And she was beautiful- differently, endearingly beautiful.” 

That girl, of course, was a young Molly Ringwald.

“I felt like he really got me,” Ringwald says of Hughes. “I felt completely understood.” 

Molly Ringwald left Hollywood not long after being sexualized in an audition

Molly Ringwald
Molly Ringwald | Mitchell Gerber/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

In an eye-opening 2017 piece for The New Yorker, the actor recalls being sexually exploited during an audition. The traumatizing experience made her rethink her career in Hollywood.

“In my twenties, I was blindsided during an audition,” Ringwald writes. “I was asked by the director, in a somewhat rhetorical manner, to let the lead actor put a dog collar around my neck. This was not remotely in the pages I had studied; I could not even fathom how it made sense in the story. The actor was a friend of mine, and I looked into his eyes with panic. He looked back at me with an ‘I’m really sorry’ expression on his face as his hands reached out toward my neck.”

Molly Ringwald
Deborah Harry (L) and Molly Ringwald (R) at Versace Versus fashion show on March 27, 1996 | Catherine McGann/Getty Images

RELATED: Why Molly Ringwald Didn’t Want To Star in ‘Pretty in Pink’

Ringwald continues, revealing how the experience led to an “out of body” experience. 

“I don’t know if the collar ever made it on me because that’s the closest I’ve had to an out-of-body experience,” she writes. “I’d like to think that I just walked out, but, more than likely, there’s an old VHS tape, disintegrating in a drawer somewhere, of me trying to remember lines with a dog collar around my neck in front of a young man I once had a crush on.”

“I sobbed in the parking lot,” she adds. “And, when I got home and called my agent to tell him what happened, he laughed and said, ‘Well, I guess that’s one for the memoirs.’ I fired him and moved to Paris not long after.

Ringwald moved to Paris to experience a normal life

Molly Ringwald, Los Angeles, California, January 30, 1985
Molly Ringwald, Los Angeles, California, January 30, 1985 | Bob Riha, Jr./Getty Images

Ringwald escaped Hollywood to experience a more ordinary life. Another reason why Ringwald moved to Paris, was that she wanted to discover what life was like outside of the spotlight. In France, she could walk around without being recognized.

Years later, she would continue to act, appearing in TV shows such as The Secret Life of The American Teenager and Riverdale