Angelina Jolie's announcement that she underwent a double mastectomy to avoid getting breast cancer was one of the best kept celebrity secrets of the year. The "A Mighty Heart" actress explained in an op-ed in the New York Times that she opted for the procedure because she carried a gene that gave her an 87 percent chance of getting the disease that killed her mother.
Jolie is receiving kudos for sharing her story with other women who face a similar dilemma. Yet the news may also explain why the U.N. Goodwill Ambassador has been keeping such a low profile this year.
In January, Star magazine started a rumor that Jolie was pregnant again. "Angelina has been staying out of the public eye because she doesn't want to let anyone know that she's expecting," a so-called insider explained to the tabloid. "She had morning sickness and didn't want to draw attention to herself in public."
Jolie's noticeable low profile during this year's awards season -- she skipped both the Oscars and Golden Globes -- gave some credence to the rumor, though the mother of six may have been pre-occupied with her multi-part surgery.
In February, the Daily Mail alluded to Jolie's "hiatus from the Hollywood carousel" when she took her kids shopping at Urban Outfitters while wearing a roomy long sleeved top.
Yet, even though she kept reporters guessing, Jolie was not exactly a recluse during the grueling months of her surgery and post-op recovery. During this time, she officially launched her wine business with romantic and business partner Brad Pitt, beginning with a wine called Miraval Rose 2012 from her French estate Chateau Miraval.
She also announced the launch of her new jewelry brand, "Style of Jolie" that will fund the building of elementary schools for girls in Afghanistan. So far the "Changeling" actress has started two schools in a country known for short-changing its girls of education.
And if that weren't enough, Jolie was also busy working on her upcoming movie, "Unbroken," about former Olympic track athlete Louis Zamperini. The World War II hero survived a plane crash, survived seven weeks on a raft and was then captured by Japanese soldiers who held him prisoner in POW camps. Jolie snagged Oscar-winning screenwriters Joel and Ethan Coen, to re-write the screen play based on Laura Hillenbrand's biography of the hero.
Meanwhile, with so many paparazzi following her every move, we wouldn't be surprised if the "Maleficent" actress also managed to squeeze in time to write her own book -- an advice book for celebrities on how to keep a secret from the media.
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