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"I couldn't have been a bigger has-been," Desperate Housewives star Teri Hatcher (in 2005 and 1993) said upon winning a Golden Globe in January, referring to the drought years between the 1997 end of her last hit series, Lois amp Clark, and her current runaway success. During that time, the single mom (to daughter Emerson, 7), 40, toiled at commercials and forgettable TV movies.
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Lost star Matthew Fox (in 2004 and 1994) joined an L.A.-area theater company after his FOX drama Party of Five finished its fourth and final season in 2000. "I was very distrustful of people. I was isolating myself," he says of his time between series. These days the 38-year-old married father of Kyle, 7, and Byron, 3, is back on the small screen as a hero to a group of castaways on the hit ABC show.
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THOMAS HADEN CHURCH
Life came close to imitating art for Sideways star Thomas Haden Church (in 2005 and 1990), who earned his first Oscar nomination this year for his portrayal of a washed-up actor. After two successful sitcoms in the 1990s (Wings and Ned and Stacey), the 43-year-old Texan almost sank into obscurity, appearing in quirky, barely seen films such as 2000's The Specials.
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"I needed to get my life back," Keri Russell told the Copley News Service of the yearlong break she took following the 2002 demise of her TV drama Felicity. But the single 28-year-old actress (in 2005 and 1998) is back: After earning critical praise for her Off-Broadway turn in Fat Pig, Russell will appear with Kevin Costner in The Upside of Anger, opening in March, and costars in Steven Spielberg's miniseries Into the West, airing this summer.
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Former teen pinup Jason Bateman has conquered the curse of many young actors, gaining success (and a Golden Globe) as an adult for his role in FOX's Arrested Development. But it didn't come easy: After Bateman, 36, starred in '80s shows such as Silver Spoons and The Hogan Family, he spent a decade floundering in short-lived sitcoms and movie flops. "Most people retire after 25 years in this business," says Bateman (in 2004 and 1987), who is married to actress Amanda Anka. "I got to start over."
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After garnering a Best Actress Oscar nod for 1995's Leaving Las Vegas, Elisabeth Shue retreated to smaller film roles (such as narrating the 2002 teen romance Tuck Everlasting) in favor of raising kids Miles, 7, and Stella, 3 (with husband David Guggenheim), and finishing her bachelor's degree in government at Harvard. Ever the overachiever, Shue, 41, is back in Hide and Seek, which opened in January at No. 1.
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More than two decades after Roger Taylor, Simon LeBon, John Taylor, Andy Taylor and Nick Rhodes (in 2004, top, and 1982) released their last studio album, the original members of Duran Duran are kicking off a tour Feb. 8 to support their new CD, Astronaut. Following a formal split in 1986, the five 40-somethings became dads and dropped out of sight. Says Roger, "I was burned out. So I lived the country life for a while. I kept horses and chickens."
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After years of sexy roles in movies such as 1990's The Hot Spot, Virginia Madsen figured it would be fine to slow down to raise son Jack, 10 (with former flame Antonio Sabato Jr.) – but it proved difficult. "To come back was really hard ... I didn't think doors slammed until you were 40, which is ironic because this is now when they're opening," says the 42-year-old (in 2005 and 1990), who is nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Sideways.
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"If I'd known it would be this easy to resurrect my career just by getting fat, I would have done it three years ago," says Kirstie Alley (in 2005 and 1987), 54. After taking time off to rear kids William, 12, and Lillie, 10, the sitcom veteran (who starred in Cheers from 1987-1993 and Veronica's Closet from 1997-2000) debuts her Showtime series Fat Actress in March.
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The flamboyant host of MTV's mid-'90s dating show Singled Out practically disappeared after the demise of her 1997 sitcom Jenny, but this spring Jenny McCarthy (in 2005 and 1997) returns to television on the UPN series The Bad Girl's Guide. The 32-year-old mom to Evan, 2 (with husband John Asher), also wrote as well as starred in the romantic comedy Dirty Love, which debuted at Sundance.
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It's been 10 years since Rob Morrow (in 2005 and 1990), star of the highly rated midseason crime drama Numb3rs, enjoyed TV success with the quirky comedy Northern Exposure and acclaim for his role in the movie drama Quiz Show. Between the bookends of his successes, the 42-year-old dad to Tu Simone, 3 (with wife Debbon Ayer), flopped in movies (2000's Labor Pains) and the blink-and-you-missed-it 2002 TV series Street Time.
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After "a couple of years off just to really mourn some things," Patricia Arquette (left, at the Golden Globes) scored a home run as psychic mom Allison DuBois in NBC's midseason hit Medium. Before her small-screen success, the 36-year-old mother to Harlow, 23 months (with fiancé actor Thomas Jane), and Enzo, 16 (with musician Paul Rossi), was known mostly for offbeat roles in films such as 1993's True Romance (right) and 1997's Lost Highway.
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