Arsenio Hall
Source: getty

Why Did Arsenio Hall Step Away From the Spotlight for So Long?

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Mar. 4 2021, Published 3:57 p.m. ET

Actor, comedian, and late-night talk show host Arsenio Hall is having a renaissance. 

From his 2019 Netflix comedy special, Arsenio Hall: Smart & Classy, to his reprisal of Semmi in the highly anticipated sequel Coming 2 America, the entertainer is having a busy comeback.

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But with all the fame and success that Arsenio found in the 1990s, many fans wonder why the talented comedian took a step back from the limelight for so many years. 

Rumors about Arsenio’s health began to circulate when fans noticed that the comedian was looking a little worse for wear in some of his rare public appearances. So, is Arsenio Hall sick?

is arsenio hall sick
Source: getty
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Is Arsenio Hall sick?

In 1988, Arsenio Hall found overnight success after starring as Prince Akeem’s dedicated manservant, Semmi, in the movie Coming to America. A year later, he signed a contract to host a syndicated late-night talk show called The Arsenio Hall Show, forever cementing himself as a figure in American pop culture.

But just four years later, in 1994, the host shocked fans when he quit his talk show. 

The show was admittedly suffering from low ratings and stiff competition from other hosts like David Letterman and Jay Leno, but that wasn’t the only reason Arsenio decided to shut it down.

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While many fans think that Arsenio walked away from his syndicated show due to health issues, it turns out that Arsenio Hall was not and is not, as of the time of this writing, sick. So why did he quit his talk show?

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Why did Arsenio Hall quit his talk show?

“When you have that feeling of, 'There's something else for me to do, and this is occupying your life 24/7,' wrong or right, you need to go," Arsenio told CBS News. "I would sit eating a piece of pizza with Jay [Leno] and I could see his hair getting gray while I was chewing! You know? And I realized, that's NBC, that's late night. That's the stress.”

Although it was a tough decision, Arsenio decided to leave the show and shifted his focus to raising his family, namely his son Arsenio Cheron Hall Jr., whom he welcomed into the world in September 1999. 

When Arsenio’s relationship with Arsenio Jr.’s mother, Cheryl Bonacci, fell apart soon after, he decided to take a huge step back from Hollywood to concentrate on being a full-time dad.

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“I knew going in that being a single parent would be one of the toughest jobs I'd ever have. I'd been a talk-show host, actor, comic, and on and on, but this gig was going to be my defining moment,” the comedian wrote in a moving piece for Newsweek

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“So I made a decision to stop working and put my career on hold,” he continued. 

He went on to say that although taking the time to raise his son was a detriment to his career, he has no regrets.

Even when he did go through a short comeback in the mid-2010s, appearing on The Celebrity Apprentice and later reviving The Arsenio Hall Show for a year, Arsenio told Oprah in an interview that he felt horrible not being there with his son every day. He broke down with emotion talking about his love for Arsenio Jr. and crediting his son for giving him the strength to get back out into the public eye.

But now that Arsenio Jr. is a fully grown adult, audiences can expect to see a lot more of the comedian on the big screen.

Welcome back, Arsenio!

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