How to Understand the Appeal of the 80s ‘IT Girl” Phoe


When we hear the name Phoebe Cates, we think of the ’80s. She became famous as the “It girl” of that decade, mainly for her role as Linda Barrett in Fast Times at Ridgemont High when she was just 17. Remember the iconic bikini drop scene? After that, she appeared in several movies and TV shows in the ’80s and ’90s, but then she kind of disappeared from the Hollywood scene. Turns out, things weren’t as great for her off-screen as they seemed on-screen. So, what happened to this dream girl of the ’80s?

Phoebe Cates became a star in the ’80s after her role in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Despite her success, she faced challenges in the industry and gradually stepped away from Hollywood. The reasons behind her departure involve a mix of personal choices, industry pressures, and a desire for a more private life.

Born Into Fame

Phoebe Cates, born on July 16, 1963, in New York City, comes from a renowned showbiz family. Her parents, Lily and Joseph Cates, were part of the entertainment industry, with Joseph being a Broadway producer and one of the creators of The $64,000 Question. Her late uncle, Gilbert Cates, was also a notable TV producer, best known for his work on the Academy Awards shows.

With star potential running in her blood, Phoebe Cates was destined for a bright career in the entertainment industry.

Star Potential

Born into a famous family, Phoebe Cates started her journey in front of the camera early on. At the age of 10, she secured her first modeling gig. A few years later, she pursued another passion and dreamt of becoming a dancer. She earned a scholarship to the School of American Ballet but had to quit at 15 due to a serious injury.

Little did she know, the young girl had bigger and better things awaiting her in the future.

Model Child

Following her injury, Cates shifted her focus to modeling. At the age of 15, she made a significant impact by gracing the cover of Seventeen, showcasing her talent and beauty in one of her first major modeling gigs. What an impressive accomplishment at such a young age!

Despite her budding success in modeling, Phoebe Cates wasn’t a fan of the industry and participated mainly for financial reasons. She sensed a new calling and wouldn’t have to wait long before finding herself back in the limelight.

Catching the Acting Bug

Coming from a showbiz family, Cates seemed destined for a career on stage. After brief experiences with dancing and modeling, she decided to venture into acting. However, her famous Broadway producer father wasn’t thrilled about her new career choice.

Phoebe Cates didn’t have to wait long for her big break in the industry. Soon enough, she was on her way to becoming one of the biggest teen stars of the ’80s!

Big Screen Debut

At the age of 17, Phoebe Cates made her acting debut as the lead in the 1982 adventure romance film “Paradise,” reminiscent of “The Blue Lagoon.” Despite being a minor, she had several full-frontal nude scenes in the movie. Additionally, Cates showcased her singing talent by performing the theme song during the ending credits. This role marked her big break, but the transition from being a model to an actress posed challenges. Cates noted in an interview with People that as a model, she had to be conscious of the camera, whereas as an actress, she couldn’t maintain that awareness.

Little did Cates know that her debut in “Paradise” was just the beginning of her bright Hollywood career, and her most famous role would soon be coming, even sooner than she could have imagined.

Most-Memorable Role

In the same year, 1982, Phoebe Cates took on the role of the experienced Linda Barrett in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” starring alongside Sean Penn, Nicolas Cage, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. The film included the iconic fantasy scene where Judge Reinhold’s character daydreams about Cates’ Linda in a red bikini. This scene has since become one of the most memorable moments in the film, even being described by Rolling Stone as “the most memorable bikini-drop in cinema history.”

“Fast Times at Ridgemont High” achieved success, ranking 29th among U.S. releases in 1982 and earning over $27 million, nearly six times its $4.5 million budget. The film became a cult classic, bringing attention to the up-and-coming actress, Phoebe Cates.

Hollywood Bombshell

“Fast Times at Ridgemont High” solidified Phoebe Cates’ presence in Hollywood, establishing her as an actress known for portraying bombshell and risqué characters. Cates became comfortable with these roles after her experience in the film. Notably, she was unreserved about bearing all on screen, describing it as “fun” and justifying it as being “very in character” during an interview on Late Night with David Letterman.

Despite her comfort with baring all for her early roles, this aspect of her career would later present challenges for Phoebe Cates.

Being Typecast

Roles came quickly for Cates after “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” In 1983, she starred as Christine Ramsey, a popular high school student in the teen comedy “Private School,” alongside Matthew Modine and Betsy Russell. Cates showcased her singing talent once again by contributing two songs, “Just One Touch” and “How Do I Let You Know,” to the soundtrack. However, as she continued to land roles, Cates found herself being typecast, making it challenging to secure roles outside of the pin-up girl image.

Her next opportunity would end up changing Phoebe Cates’ life in ways she could never have imagined.

Life-Changing Audition

In the same year, Cates auditioned for “The Big Chill,” a film about baby boomers reuniting 15 years after attending the University of Michigan. Although she didn’t land the part of Chloe, which went to Meg Tilly, the audition had an unexpected impact on her life. It was during this audition that she met her future husband, Kevin Kline.

At that time, both Phoebe Cates and Kevin Kline were dating other people. However, fate had other plans, and they would eventually find their way back into each other’s lives.

TV World

After making a name for herself in movies, Phoebe Cates decided to try out television. In 1984, she starred in the TV mini-series “Lace,” based on Shirley Conran’s novel. In the show, Cates played Lili, a famous movie star on a quest to find her birth mother. This role allowed her to break away from the types of characters she often played in films. It’s said that she impressed the writer so much during her audition that they wanted to hire her right away. Her performance was memorable, with her line “Which one of you bi—es is my mother?” being recognized by TV Guide as one of the greatest lines in TV history.

Up until then, Phoebe Cates had convincingly portrayed the dream girl on screen, but it remained to be seen if she could break free from being typecast. Little did anyone know, Cates was about to demonstrate that she was much more than just a pretty face.

Wholesome Character

Phoebe Cates was eager to showcase her acting range, and her next roles aimed at a younger audience. In 1984, she secured a part in Steven Spielberg’s horror/comedy “Gremlins.” However, landing the role wasn’t easy. Rumor has it that during casting, there were concerns about Cates playing a more wholesome character as Billy’s girlfriend, Kate. Yet, Spielberg was convinced after witnessing the undeniable chemistry between her and the newcomer, Zach Galligan, who played Billy. This led to Cates being seen as perfect for the part.

Alongside showcasing her ability to tackle diverse roles, Phoebe Cates was about to achieve another notable accomplishment.

“America’s 10 Most Beautiful Women”

While Phoebe Cates showcased incredible acting talent, her beauty also left a lasting impression. Harper’s Bazaar recognized this by naming her one of “America’s 10 Most Beautiful Women” in their 1984 issue. She shared this honor with notable figures like Kate Capshaw, Candice Bergen, Sigourney Weaver, and Christie Brinkley. Soon, every ’80s kid was rushing to buy VHS tapes of Phoebe Cates’ films. They adorned their bedrooms with cardboard cutouts and posters of her in the famous red bikini from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”

It seems like you’ve started a sentence about someone named Cates who was on the path to becoming a prominent figure, possibly in the entertainment industry, but was about to face some challenges. If you have a specific question or if you’d like me to help you continue or elaborate on this story, feel free to provide more details or context!

Drop Dead Setbacks

It appears that after the success of “Gremlins,” Phoebe Cates faced challenges in her career with subsequent projects. “Gremlins 2: The New Batch” released in 1990 did not perform as well as its predecessor, earning only $41.5 million with a budget of $50 million, resulting in financial losses. Following that, her role in the 1991 film “Drop Dead Fred” also struggled at the box office, grossing $14.8 million domestically on a $6.7 million budget. The film received a low 11% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite these setbacks, you mentioned that “Drop Dead Fred” has gone on to become a cult classic, showing that a film’s initial reception doesn’t always determine its long-term popularity or cultural impact.

It seems like there’s a shift in the narrative from Phoebe Cates’ professional challenges to her personal life taking a positive turn. If you have specific details or events in mind regarding her personal life that you’d like me to elaborate on, please provide more information or ask a specific question!

Destiny Strikes

Phoebe Cates and Kevin Kline first met during an audition in 1983. They crossed paths again two years later at the Public Theater in New York City. Kevin, interested in Phoebe, hired her former assistant to help set up a date, which successfully led to them dating.

Kevin Kline shared his initial thoughts about meeting Phoebe Cates, expressing a sense of disbelief that someone so happy and enthusiastic about life would be interested in him. He wondered what they would talk about. This quote provides a glimpse into Kline’s perspective on their early interactions.

Wedding Bells

Despite their differences in age and background, the couple, Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates, defied expectations and got married on March 5, 1989. Kline, a seasoned actor with two Tony Awards and a Julliard training, had a significant age gap of 16 years with Cates. They welcomed their first child, Owen Joseph Kline, into the world in 1991, followed by the birth of their daughter Greta Simone Kline two years later in 1993. Despite the unconventional pairing, the couple seemed to be very much in love, building a family together.

With two young kids, Phoebe Cates faced the prospect of balancing her career in the entertainment industry with the responsibilities of motherhood. It would be interesting to explore how she managed this dual role, and whether her focus shifted more towards family or if she continued to pursue acting opportunities. If you have a specific aspect you’d like to know more about or if there’s a particular question you have in mind, feel free to provide additional details!

Retiring from Acting

In 1994, Phoebe Cates made the decision to retire from acting, pivoting away from the industry after starring in several films that didn’t perform well at the box office. Her choice to step back was driven by a desire to prioritize her family, specifically to spend more time with her young children, Owen and Greta, who were both under the age of five at the time. This marked a significant shift for Cates, trading the glitz and glamour of Hollywood for the responsibilities of parenthood, including diapers and bottles. Meanwhile, her husband, Kevin Kline, continued to pursue his acting career in film and television.

There isn’t detailed information on how Phoebe Cates feels about giving up her acting career while her husband, Kevin Kline, continued. Personal sentiments in such situations can vary, and Cates’ feelings on this matter haven’t been explicitly stated.

Loving Mother

Kevin Kline shared in a 1998 Playboy interview that he and Phoebe Cates had an agreement to alternate their work schedules so that one of them could be with their children. However, whenever it was Cates’ turn to work, she chose to stay with the children. Despite her retirement from acting, Cates hasn’t entirely left the industry, occasionally taking on roles that were too appealing to turn down. This sheds light on the couple’s approach to balancing their careers and family life.

It seems like there’s an intriguing development in Phoebe Cates’ career, where she’s about to receive an offer for a project that she finds irresistible. Additionally, the mention of being reunited with a familiar face adds an element of anticipation. If you have more details or if there’s a specific question you’d like me to address about this project or the reunion, feel free to provide additional information!

Family Affair

In 2001, Phoebe Cates temporarily ended her retirement from Hollywood to collaborate with her old co-star, Jennifer Jason Leigh. Having maintained a close friendship since their roles in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” in 1984, Cates accepted Leigh’s offer to star in the film she was directing, producing, and starring in—titled “The Anniversary Party.” This project became a family affair, as Cates’ husband, Kevin Kline, also had a role, and her children, Owen and Greta, made appearances in the movie. The reunion with Jennifer Jason Leigh marked a special and personal return to the screen for Cates.

After her brief return to acting in “The Anniversary Party” in 2001, there hasn’t been significant public information about Phoebe Cates pursuing a sustained career in the film industry. It seems she continued to prioritize her family and personal life over a full-time acting career. If there have been subsequent projects or developments, they may not be widely known or documented. Personal lives can often remain private, and not all details about celebrities’ activities are readily available to the public.

Retail Passion

After briefly considering a return to acting post-“The Anniversary Party,” Phoebe Cates chose to stay in retirement. In 2005, she followed her passion for retail, opening the boutique Blue Tree on Madison Avenue in New York. Explaining her move to retail, Cates said that acting wasn’t a viable option, and she had always wanted to own a general store.

It seems there’s more to Phoebe Cates’ post-retirement endeavors. If you have specific details or areas you’d like me to explore regarding what else kept her busy, feel free to provide more information or ask a specific question!

Frankie Cosmos

It’s interesting to note that Greta Kline, using the stage name Frankie Cosmos, initially ventured into acting with roles in “The Anniversary Party” and “The Squid and the Whale” alongside her brother. However, she later transitioned to the music industry, starting her musical journey in late 2011. Under the name Frankie Cosmos, she released her first album titled “Zentropy” in 2014. Since then, the indie musician has continued to make a mark in the music scene, with her band releasing three more albums. This showcases the multi-faceted talents within the Kline family, spanning both acting and music.

Details about what it was like for Greta Kline and her brother Owen to grow up with a famous mom like Phoebe Cates are not extensively documented. Celebrities often try to keep their personal lives private, especially when it comes to their children. It’s reasonable to assume that the experience was a mix of unique opportunities and challenges, given the public attention associated with fame. However, without direct statements from Greta or Owen, the specific details of their upbringing remain largely undisclosed.

Celebrity Status

It seems that Phoebe Cates and Kevin Kline made efforts to provide a normal childhood for their children despite their success in the entertainment industry. Greta Kline, known as Frankie Cosmos, has mentioned in an interview with The West Australian that her parents didn’t emphasize the celebrity aspect of their careers. She expressed that both her parents were successful as artists, and her mother, Phoebe Cates, had a “normal job.” The intention was seemingly to create an environment where the children didn’t view their parents’ celebrity status as something extraordinary, reflecting a down-to-earth approach to parenting.

It appears that Phoebe Cates, now that her children are grown and she’s out of the public eye, has found the opportunity to return to acting. Despite her earlier retirement, Cates has made a few comebacks in the industry over the years. If there are specific projects or details you’re interested in regarding her return to acting, feel free to provide more information or ask a specific question!

Secret to Happy Marriage

Phoebe Cates and Kevin Kline’s enduring marriage is indeed noteworthy, especially in an industry where lasting unions can be challenging. Despite an initial 16-year age difference that raised eyebrows, they have successfully made their marriage work for over three decades, celebrating their 32nd Wedding Anniversary. According to Kevin Kline, their secret lies in being sensible, avoiding long separations, and actively taking care of their marriage. This commitment to each other and their relationship has contributed to their lasting bond.

It’s certainly valuable advice for anyone looking to maintain a strong and lasting relationship. The importance of being sensible, avoiding prolonged separations, and actively taking care of the relationship resonates as practical and sound guidance for a successful marriage.

Still Relevant

It’s interesting to see how Phoebe Cates continues to have a presence in pop culture even though her active acting career has slowed down. The mention of her name in Netflix’s popular show Stranger Things, where she is described as “Think Phoebe Cates, only hotter,” reflects the lasting impact she had on popular culture, especially through iconic roles in the 1980s. This kind of reference not only pays homage to her legacy but also introduces her to new generations of viewers.

It’s intriguing to note that Phoebe Cates was not only mentioned but also featured in a visual reference in Stranger Things. The scene where Joe Keery’s character, Steve, knocks down a cardboard cut-out of Phoebe Cates, particularly in her famous red bikini pose, adds a playful nod to her iconic moments in film history. This further showcases how her legacy and memorable roles continue to be recognized and referenced in contemporary pop culture.

The First Time the Lovebirds Met

It sounds like there’s an interesting twist to Phoebe Cates and Kevin Kline’s love story even before they officially met during the audition for The Big Chill. If you have more details or specific aspects you’d like me to explore regarding Cates’ thoughts about Kline prior to their meeting, feel free to provide additional information or ask a specific question!

It’s a curious turn in their story that Phoebe Cates initially thought Kevin Kline was gay after seeing him in “Phoebe’s Choice.” The transition from this initial impression to becoming the love of her life is not explicitly detailed in the provided information. If you have more details or specific aspects you’d like me to explore about how their relationship evolved, feel free to provide additional information or ask a specific question!

First Impressions

Thank you for providing additional context. It’s interesting to learn that Phoebe Cates initially assumed Kevin Kline was gay after seeing him in “Sophie’s Choice.” Kevin Kline, in an interview with Daily Record, shared that Cates made this assumption because he came from the theater, appeared clean, and used his hands prominently in that particular film. It’s a reminder of how initial perceptions can be shaped by various factors and how relationships can unfold in unexpected ways.

Phoebe Cates and Kevin Kline have defied odds with their 30-year marriage, despite a 16-year age difference and different backgrounds. Their enduring relationship is attributed to mutual respect, effective communication, shared interests, and a commitment to each other. Sensible decision-making and avoiding long separations have been part of their successful approach.

Giving Up a Successful Career

Kevin Kline appreciates and loves that Phoebe Cates, who had her own success in Hollywood before stepping back from acting, chose to prioritize raising their now-adult children, Owen and Greta, over her career. In an interview with The Guardian, Kline expressed admiration for Cates not being driven solely by her acting career, highlighting the value she placed on family life. This choice has been a significant aspect of their relationship and family dynamic.

Despite Phoebe Cates stepping back from her own acting career, she has continued to be a supportive presence for Kevin Kline and his career. Even though she shifted her focus to raising their children, her ongoing support has likely played a crucial role in Kline’s career and their shared life. It’s a testament to their partnership and mutual support, showcasing the strength of their relationship beyond individual professional pursuits.

The 2017 Tony Awards

While Cates and Kline have managed to keep a low profile throughout the years, she’s attended award shows and movie premieres to support her husband. And even though she’s retreated from show business to focus on her family, Kline has made sure to show his wife appreciation for her choice so that he could continue acting.Cates was there to support Kline at the 2017 Tony Awards where he won his fourth Tony for Best Picture by an Actor in a Leading Role for Present Laughter.

Kevin Kline’s acknowledgment of his wife, Phoebe Cates, during his acceptance speech at the 2017 Tony Awards emphasizes the importance of her support in his life and career. By expressing gratitude to his wife, children, and the broader “family of actors,” Kline publicly recognizes the role that his loved ones, especially Cates, play in his success and the fulfillment of his professional endeavors. It’s a heartfelt tribute to the support system that has been instrumental in his achievements.

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