Why You Don't Hear Much From Cybill Shepherd Anymore

The following article includes mentions of sexual misconduct allegations.

Having enjoyed several career renaissances throughout her life, it's understandable to wonder why you don't hear much from Cybill Shepherd anymore. Surely, the star is long overdue another comeback by now? It's particularly curious at a time when there are seemingly so many great onscreen stories about older, interesting women being told on television. Shades of Shepherd's own personal brand of indomitable, witty female characters can be glimpsed across various TV shows — perhaps now, more than ever. And yet the actor — who fought for more compelling expressions of womanhood in her '90s sitcom "Cybill" — is barely seen on screen anymore. So, what happened? 

It's worth noting that Shepherd has always had a complicated relationship with fame and has often struggled to maintain her success due to what Today described as her "smartass streak." Ironically, the very same thing that catapulted the self-proclaimed "rebel girl" to success — her charismatic ability to delineate "a bad girl" on screen and off in projects like "The Last Picture Show" and "Moonlighting" — was often also the same quality for which Hollywood would time and again attempt to turf her back out to obscurity. One way or another, though, she always found herself back in front of a camera and doing what she does best: Cracking wise and telling truths. 

So, find yourself a suit with the biggest shoulder pads in town, and prepare your sharpest zingers, because this is why we don't hear from Cybill Shepherd much anymore.

Cybill Shepherd's talent was overshadowed by an affair

Just as quickly as the industry fell in love with Cybill Shepherd, it also became weary of her. The model made an impressive transition into a career as a bona fide Hollywood star with her captivating performance in the 1971 coming of age drama "The Last Picture Show." But backlash against her struck almost immediately when Shepherd, then 20, entered into an affair with her 31-year-old director, Peter Bogdanovich.

According to Rolling Stone, the romance lasted eight years, where it remained "gossip-column fodder," mostly due to the scandalous circumstances from which the affair stemmed. The director's wife, Polly Platt, was the film's production designer, and she'd given birth to their second daughter just months prior to Shepherd and Bogdanovich moving in together on set. "It was difficult and I hated Cybill," Platt once told Entertainment Weekly. "I was jealous — everything happened while we were shooting."

As described by The New York Times, Shepherd subsequently garnered a reputation for herself as "a home wrecker." When two follow-up movies with Bogdanovich proved to be critical and commercial flops, the outlet notes that "people said her career was over." One reviewer at the time even suggested she "had all the charm of a hamster," which Shepherd reflected "was pretty vicious" in an interview with Roger Ebert. By all accounts, the actor's love life took up a distracting amount of the spotlight on the great stage of Shepherd's career.

The volatile chemistry of Moonlighting

Throughout her career, Cybill Shepherd has continued to entertain curiosity regarding her impressive collection of past lovers: Few, after all, can legitimately attest to how "indescribable" it was to get intimate with Elvis Presley, as she once told The Guardian. It was arguably this sense of curiosity regarding Shepherd's love life that made her turn as an ice-cold model-turned-detective in "Moonlighting" must-see TV: The actor's chemistry with co-star Bruce Willis was so hot it's lucky that any television set survived the '80s.

According to Shepherd, the will-they-won't-they dynamic of the show's two sexy leads also extended behind the scenes. The actor told the Television Academy Foundation, that "the temperature in the room" went "up 10 degrees" when Willis "walked in." However, she was determined "not to act on" that heat, stating that the two "came close" to consummating their chemistry, but ultimately "didn't do it." Later, that chemistry turned sour when the two developed their legendary feud. In his 2017 memoir, "Moonlighting" star Curtis Armstrong suggested the pair were always in "dispute" on set and difficult to work with (via Radar).

Describing the "boys' club" mentality of the set, the actor wrote that Shepherd became known as a diva for her behavior, while it was high fives all round for Willis. "Cybill was always impossible," Armstrong explained in "Revenge of the Nerd," adding, "They said [she] was always a b****. But Bruce, he was one of us." It was a tough notoriety for Shepherd to shake...

Cybill Shepherd earned a bad reputation

By the '80s, Cybill Shepherd had cultivated a reputation as a woman not to be trifled with. Her "inherent toughness" and "steel spine" are ultimately "what hurt her in Hollywood," according to a Rolling Stone profile on the star. Oddly, her apparent foe Bruce Willis felt inclined to leap to his co-star's defense on the matter and suggested that Shepherd simply "knows exactly what she wants and what she doesn't" — something that supposedly didn't go down too well on the set of the star's CBS mid–'90s sitcom "Cybill." So much so that several men from the show's crew even chose to exact artistic revenge against the actor.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the series' executive producer Howard M. Gould had once described the sitcom as a "really, unusually, painfully difficult show" to work on. He then poured his experiences into writing an unflattering play inspired by Shepherd called "Diva," which the publication described as a "dull" and "puny" attempt at "revenge." Meanwhile, former "Cybill" alumni Chuck Lorre and Lee Aronson took it one step further by penning an episode of "CSI" that, uh, very tastefully depicted a "diva-like" sitcom star getting killed off. 

In anticipation of the episode, TV Guide openly applauded the "revenge fantasy" element of the episode, wherein a "hellacious sitcom diva ... not-so-loosely modeled" after Shepherd gets brutally murdered — a premise that would never be written about a similarly difficult male boss, let's be real.

She climbed back from cancellation

While the dudes on set may have griped at Cybill Shepherd's alleged diva-like behavior while working on "Cybill," the actor had her own troubled tale to share about her time there, too. In 2018, the sitcom star suggested to SiriusXM that the show "would have run another five years," if not for her having spurned the advances of disgraced executive producer Les Moonves. The actor recounted how their respective assistants had scheduled a "dinner date" between the two, where Shepherd apparently had to put the producer in his place.

"He was telling me his wife didn't turn him on, some mistress didn't turn him on," Shepherd alleged. "I'm watching him drink alcohol and he says, 'Well, you know, why don't you let me take you home?'" The star declined his alleged offer — "shortly after," she noted, the set soured when Moonves apparently began sending notes dictating the direction of "Cybill," and the show was abruptly cancelled. During a 2008 interview with Bullz-eye.com, Shepherd recalled that the "unexpected" cancellation "had nothing to do with the quality" of the show, but rather that it happened over "a deal between the network and studio."

In 2018, of course, Moonves was forced to step down from his position as CEO of CBS after he was accused of sexual misconduct in and outside of the workplace by several women, according to The New York Times. Moonves denied the accusations. 

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Cybill Shepherd's big mouth strikes again

For better or worse, Cybill Shepherd's attitude and outspoken, truth-telling nature has always made her stand out in an industry where honesty hasn't always been the best policy. On the set of "Cybill," for instance, the star had to fight CBS for permission to use frank language regarding the lives and bodies of women: Menopause and "women's biological cycles" were acceptable, but vagina and period were not. "They didn't like that we were pushing the envelope," she told Bullz-eye.com. "... I think people would be fairly shocked by what we dealt with on this show." 

Indeed. But by this point, it was par for the course that Shepherd find herself having to fight for her career, and to enjoy it on her own terms. As Rolling Stone put it in 1986, the industry "had virtually blacklisted" the star following the end of her affair with the late Peter Bogdanovich. Normally, people who enjoy a comeback receive it gracefully and quietly, but not Shepherd. In her personal life, the actor caused a ruckus by identifying publicly as a feminist and attending pro-choice rallies — a topic she spoke out about openly and passionately. 

"I would be willing to die for this issue," she told The Buffalo News, "to prevent the deaths that would result if abortion were made illegal again." Shepherd has always refused to go quietly into the good night of Hollywood oblivion.

Inside Cybill Shepherd's vacillating career

Having once attributed her longevity in the industry to "stubbornness and intelligence" during an interview with Closer, Cybill Shepherd is an actor who has never allowed herself to be fully buried professionally. As The Herald once astutely noted of one of the star's many career comebacks, "Hollywood has pronounced Cybill Shepherd dead so often investment in the resurrection business might be wise." 

Following an extreme career fallout at the end of her relationship with Peter Bogdanovich, Shepherd originally closed the door on her career at the tail end of the '70s. Treated as "merely a curiosity to patrons" of a New York jazz club where she began to perform, her mom urged her to return home, where her celebrity quickly vanished. "I had enormous fame and then I went to Memphis," she told Rolling Stone. "... I'd go to the grocery store, and no one would even ask me if I was someone." 

Thus followed her monumental '80s comeback — which saw her leading the hit sitcom "Moonlighting" — but more were to come. In the '90s, she resurrected with "Cybill," and in the '00s, she revived herself once again with roles in "The L Word" and "The Client List." Speaking to TV Guide, Shepherd suggested that she never had a comeback because she "never went away." She noted, "There are people in this business who thought they'd never see me again, but I've been around for a long time."

She's been holding out for 'interesting' roles

Like many women in Hollywood, Cybill Shepherd's absence from screens has only ever been temporary — and more due to circumstances than through choice. As the "Taxi Driver" star has gotten older, she's found herself facing the same tough reality as other women her age: Where are all the interesting roles? When asked for her thoughts on the lack of opportunities for older women in Hollywood by Bullz-eye.com in 2008, Shepherd pointed out how the evolution of entertainment had left women her age behind. 

Explaining that women used to primarily get work "on television and in television movies," Shepherd mused that the changing nature of popular content had a big impact on the opportunities available to her. "There's hardly any television movies made any more," she said. "It's all reality [shows], and they don't do sitcoms with audiences." In 2021, a report by The New York Times suggested that the changing landscape of TV and movies, including original content made for streaming, had resulted in an increase in significant onscreen opportunities for older women. 

By this point, however, Shepherd was already in her 70s and had more than experienced the "tough" and "painful" gulfs of struggling to find a "fulfilling way to create." As she approached her '60s in the late 2000s, the actor admitted to The Hollywood Interview, "I've been struggling the past decade. ... It's been a struggle to find something interesting to do." 

Cybill Shepherd struggles with maintaining interest

Despite career fluctuations and the occasional drought of interesting roles, Cybill Shepherd has still managed to fight fierce and claim a handful of interesting roles for herself in the past couple of decades. Since 2007, for instance, the star has enjoyed some celebrated recurring roles in interesting shows like "The L Word," "Psych," and "The Client List," as well as in movies like the Rod McCall drama "Being Rose" and "She's Funny That Way," which reunited her with her former flame, the Peter Bogdanovich (via IMDb). 

Judging from the star's more recent career moments — which include a handful of TV movies — Shepherd may have struggled once again to find satisfying roles that fulfill her creatively, or that can even find a place for her. In 2021, for instance, she was replaced by "Black-ish" actor Jenifer Lewis for a potentially interesting role as an "icy and enigmatic CEO of a home shopping network" in the comedy series "I Love This For You." As outlined by The Hollywood Reporter, Shepherd's "character [had] moved in a different direction" since the pilot, and the actor "agreed to part ways" with producers over it.

The star's grit in only choosing roles of value for her may not be doing her career many favors. But by all accounts, Shepherd's at least able to enjoy her career how she wants it — something that may have meant a great deal considering the additional challenges she's faced in her personal life...

She's experienced some serious health issues

At the end of 2001, Cybill Shepherd was diagnosed with melanoma, a fatal form of skin cancer. The actor's spokesperson confirmed the news to The Star seven months after "she had a benign growth removed from her back," and had been receiving regular check-ups to "guard against a re-occurrence" (via the New York Post). Though her team downplayed the severity of the health scare, the magazine played up Shepherd's harrowing experience by making claims that she "was hysterical" and "hardly slept and cried constantly," according to a source. 

Whether that aspect was true or not, the experience understandably made an impression on the star. During an appearance on the UK's GMTV, Shepherd said of her cancer diagnosis (via the Irish Examiner), "It changes your life totally," and explained that she "had a rare form skin cancer called dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans" that she was born with on the back of her neck. As of 2004, thankfully, she'd been cancer free for three years.

In addition to cancer, Shepherd has also sadly experienced chronic irritable bowel syndrome for years and became an advocate for raising awareness for the condition. In 2005, she told The Massachusetts Daily Collegian that she'd been "misdiagnosed for 20 years," and experienced the harrowing frustration of being told her pain "was nothing. It was psychological, all in [her] head." Unfortunately, it was very much real, leading Shepherd to require "four emergency abdominal surgeries," as she shared with Closer.

Cybill Shepherd found God following a near-death experience

Cybill Shepherd's health issues were so severe at one point that they led to a near-death experience. In a 2007 interview with TV Guide, the star described the terrifying "911 situation" as being one in which she "was in so much pain" that she had to "crawl headfirst down the stairs." Shepherd admitted, "I almost died. ... When I was in that ambulance, I thought, 'I wonder if I am going to make it through this?'"

Elaborating on the episode with Today years later, the actor explained, "I felt my soul went up to a star." As she told it, Shepherd only survived because she was able to pull herself away from the great cosmos by reminding herself that she had to "stay alive" for her three children. Having grazed her fingers against the heavy doors of death, Shepherd came out of the experience with a rekindled connection to her Christian faith. 

In 2012, the actor even starred in the Christian drama "Do You Believe?" as a grieving mom on a journey of faith following the death of her daughter. Speaking to The Christian Post about the role, Shepherd suggested she "cried four times" about the film's powerful message regarding "how we all get saved." Clearly, the script hit a chord with the actor, who had likewise been on her own spiritual journey. She restored her faith in prayer and "started to feel really good" when she received the offer of the religious flick. 

This star puts family first

Having three children didn't just give Cybill Shepherd an affectionate motivational cheer with which to go mano a mano against Death's steely grip. By all accounts, it also changed her career and shifted her priorities, too. As outlined by Closer, 1979 saw the actor give birth to her first child, Clementine — whom she shared with first husband David M. Ford. When the relationship ended, she found love with Bruce Oppenheim, and the two brought twins Ariel and Cyrus into the world in 1987. 

The latter pregnancy caused problems on the set of "Moonlighting," where her body presented a high-risk situation for an actor expected to do 12-hour workdays, according to the Los Angeles Times. The publication further suggested that when Shepherd returned to "Moonlighting" from maternity leave, the "show never recovered" and was canceled in 1989. Its star likewise never recovered from the demands of the show. 

"I can't imagine doing that now, working that much," Shepherd told the newspaper in 1991. "It's just an unbelievable grind. There was no time for life," she added — and particularly not for kids. Although she returned to television not long afterward to lead her own sitcom in 1995, Shepherd clearly had family values that may have been at odds against the expectations of the industry. Having become a grandmother in 2014, as reported by the Daily Mail, it's easy to imagine Shepherd continuing to maintain close family ties.

Cybill Shepherd is sitting pretty in her golden years

Although there are obviously many factors at play as to why you don't hear much from Cybill Shepherd anymore, a prime reason can likely be found in the star's impressive net worth. According to Celebrity Net Worth, the "Moonlighting" star is sitting on a nest egg of approximately $40 million — much of which likely stemmed from her becoming "one of the highest-paid women on television" during her time on "Cybill." Now in her 70s, the star has more than enough money with which to pick roles of actual value to her. 

A Ventura BLVD profile on the actor further paints a picture of Shepherd enjoying a quiet life for herself in a cozy home in Encino, California — one of many that the star owns, but her "favorite" of them all. She originally lived on "a large estate in Royal Oaks" during her '90s heyday, but "decided to downscale." It was a bid to be more sensible with her earnings, but it was also a more "down to earth" environment in which to raise her kids, as she told the website. 

Clearly, Shepherd is less fussed about glitz and glamour than she is about practicality and action — which is evidenced in her advocacy and activism efforts. In 2019, for instance, her "long-time" contributions towards supporting LGBTQ+ rights were celebrated by The Trevor Project, who awarded the star the "Champion Award." She may be on screen less, but Cybill Shepherd's still a fighter.