Phoebe Cates appeared in many films, including Gremlins and Drop Dead Fred – but she’ll forever be remembered for her iconic, topless pool scene in 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
But the former actress left Hollywood over 20 years ago – and now she works 9 to 5 with something that she loves.
Phoebe Belle Cates was born July 16, 1963, in New York City. As a young girl, she attended private schools and studied ballet at Julliard.
Phoebe was born with acting in her blood – her father, Joe Cates, was a producer-director, and her uncle was the president of the Director’s Guild. Her brother was an ex-actor and her sister, Valerie, also worked on stage.
While Phoebe initially pursued dancing in her younger years, she was derailed after a knee injury forced her to quit.
At 14, she began modeling instead and experienced a fair amount of success. For example, she appeared on the cover of Seventeen magazine four times. However, she felt no passion for the career and began to expand her horizons instead.
”It was just the same thing, over and over. After a while, I did it solely for the money,” Phoebe said, speaking of her short modeling career.
Eventually, she met her film agent at a party at New York’s Studio 54, and then she trained with Robert Ravan, founder of The Actors’ Circle in New York.
”I just knew that I didn’t want to go to college. And that it would be a great way getting out of college if I could get a couple of movies or something. Seriously. It’s true,” she told The Daily Item in 1985.
Cates also studied with Alice Spivack of the H.B. Studios and made her acting debut in 1982 as Sarah in Paradise. Not even a year later, she starred in the film Experienced and then the famous Fast Times at Ridgemont High with the legendary swimming pool scene.
The film, which was a teen hit, has contributed quite a lot to pop culture and is probably most known for one frame – which Rolling Stone magazine depicted as ”the most memorable bikini-drop in cinema history.”
As a friend of mine said; that scene made a lot of teenage boys’ hearts beat a lot faster than they should have…
In 1982, Phoebe gave her two cents on it.
”In this business, if a girl wants a career, she has to be willing to strip. If you’ve got a good body, then why not show it?,” she said.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High had a pretty impressive cast when you look at it today – it included now-stars like like Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Eric Stoltz, and Forest Whitaker
“Well, it was a funny thing because we were all so young when we made it. And then it came out and it was this big hit, you know, where you’d go to the theater and people would say the lines with it, and people had obviously seen the movie over and over again,” Jennifer Jason Leigh told The Daily News.
Later, while also working in theatre, Phoebe starred in Private School as Christine Ramsey in 1983 and co-starred in Steven Spielberg’s Gremlins in 1984. Phoebe met Kevin Kline, a critically acclaimed theater actor while auditioning for the 1983 film The Big Chill. While Cates did not get the role, she did gain an eventual husband.
Kline was 16 years older than Cates, but they did not start dating until two years after they first met. After Kline hired Cates’ former assistant, he asked the employee to help him to ask out the actress.
In 1989, Cates and Kline–25 and 41, respectively–married in New York City. Cates gave birth to their first child, Owen Joseph, in 1991. In 1994, she had their daughter, Greta Simone.
In 2017, as the couple celebrated an impressive 27 years of marriage, many wondered what kept them so happy and together for so long.
“We take care of the marriage,” Kline said.
Even though she was doing well at the time, Cates had decided to take a step away from acting after the two had their children. In the 1990s, she started to vanish from the entertainment industry.
In 1998, she explained to Playboy that both she and her husband had agreed to alternate acting jobs so that the children would never be without a parent.
Kline would add that Cates still would choose to stay home with the children when it was her turn to work. While Cates did some acting here and there, she began to be seen more at red-carpet events with her husband, who continued acting more consistently.
It was in 2005 that Cates opened Blue Tree not far from the famous Carnegie Hall. At the store, products like fragrances, clothing, and gifts could be purchased.
Cates devoted herself to becoming a full-time shopkeeper, typically working hands-on in the store or finding new products to sell. Today, you can find Phoebe’s store at 1283 Madison Avenue in New York City, it’s located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side where she also lives.
And just so you know; Phoebe still looks amazing!