Kal Penn

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Do celebrities ever walk away from fame successfully? Oh wait. That would require stars to be smart.
—Joy, via the Answer B!tch inbox

It isn't easy walking away from fame, addictive like it is. Take Kal Penn, who left the spotlight for a career at the White House before deciding that acting might actually be a better use of his time. (Who can walk away from an installment of Harold and Kumar in 3-D? I know I can't.)

Still, some stars are actually smart—smarter than you or even I, in fact—and have the impressive second careers to prove it:

We start with a one-two intellectual punch from two actresses who are now, respectively, a neuroscience whiz-turned-parenting author and a math education expert:

Mayim Bialik, she of the erstwhile sitcom Blossom, ended up going to UCLA and getting a Ph.D., writing a thesis on a DNA disorder called Prader-Willi syndrome.

Bialik still acts—she appeared recently in The Big Bang Theory—but it clearly isn't her whole life. She also recently announced she's publishing a parenting book.

Meanwhile, Danica McKellar, onetime child costar in The Wonder Years, is now a New York Times bestselling author who specializes in taking the fear out of math for young girls.

She majored in math at UCLA, graduating summa cum laude—which is Latin for So Unbelievably Smart, by the way—and co-authored a scientific paper before becoming an author; her latest book is called Hot X: Algebra Exposed. (Oh, fun fact: She was on The Big Bang Theory, too.)

And oh, it does not end there.

  • Kirk Cameron, who once starred on Growing Pains, is now an evangelist.
  • McKellar's Wonder Years co-star Josh Saviano is now a corporate lawyer.
  • Charlie "Can't Hardly Wait" Korsmo is now a law professor.
  • Former Queen lead guitarist Brian May is now an astrophysicist—with his own asteroid.
  • And Weird Science actor Ilan Mitchell-Smith now teaches English at Cal State Long Beach.

So, yes, there are people who can act and be smart at the same time.

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