Phoebe Cates

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Phoebe Cates
Phoebe Cates at 81st Academy Awards.jpg
Cates at the 81st Academy Awards in 2009
Phoebe Belle Cates

(1963-07-16) July 16, 1963 (age 57)
New York City, U.S.
Other namesPhoebe Cates Kline
OccupationActress, model, entrepreneur
Years active1982–1994, 2001, 2015
m. 1989)
Children2, including Greta

Phoebe Belle Cates[1] (born July 16, 1963)[2] is an American former actress, singer and model turned store owner known primarily for her roles in several 1980s films, most notably Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Gremlins.

Early life[edit]

Cates was born in New York City,[citation needed] to a family of television and Broadway production insiders. She is the daughter of Lily and Joseph Cates (originally Joseph Katz),[3] who was a major Broadway producer and a pioneering figure in television, and who helped create The $64,000 Question.[4][5] Her late uncle, Gilbert Cates, produced numerous television specials, often in partnership with Cates's father, as well as several annual Academy Awards shows. Her father and maternal grandmother were of Russian-Jewish descent; her maternal grandfather was Chinese-Filipino.[6][7][8] Cates' mother was born in Shanghai, China.[9]

Cates attended the Hewitt School, the Professional Children's School, and the Juilliard School.[10] At the age of ten, Cates started modeling, appearing in Seventeen and other teen-oriented magazines. A few years later, she wanted to become a dancer. Eventually, she received a scholarship to the School of American Ballet, but quit after a serious injury at age 15.[11] Next, she began a short successful career as a model.[11] Cates claims she dislikes the industry: "It was just the same thing, over and over. After a while, I did it solely for the money."[12]


After ending her modeling then dance careers, Cates decided to begin acting.[11] Although her father was in show business, he was not enthusiastic about his daughter's new career.[11] Cates's acting debut was in Paradise (filmed in Israel from March to May 1981).[13] In the movie she performed several nude scenes while still a minor (age 17). The movie had a plot similar to The Blue Lagoon. She also sang the film's main theme song and recorded an album of the same name. In a 1982 interview, she recalled having trouble with the change of career, because as a model, she had to be conscious of the camera, whereas in front of the movie camera, she could not.[12] Cates later regretted being in the movie and said, "What I learned was never to do a movie like that again."[11] According to her co-star Willie Aames, "She will have nothing to do with the film. She's really upset about it. She won't do any promotion with me."[14]

Later in 1982, Cates starred in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which features what Rolling Stone described as "the most memorable bikini-drop in cinema history."[15] She was quoted as saying that she had the most fun in filming that movie.[11] The following year, she was in the comedy Private School, which co-starred Matthew Modine and Betsy Russell, and for which she sang on two songs of the film's soundtrack, "Just One Touch" and "How Do I Let You Know."

Cates's later film roles were more modest and largely oriented toward younger audiences, such as the two Gremlins films and the 1991 film Drop Dead Fred. Her face graced the covers of teen magazines such as Seventeen, Tiger Beat, Teen Beat, and others. In 1984, she starred in the TV mini-series Lace, based on a novel which Shirley Conran had written. She played the role of Lili "to get away from a sameness in her movie portrayals."[16] During her audition, she so impressed the writer that he wanted to hire her there and then.[16] Cates struggled with the portrayal of a bitter movie star because, despite her character's vicious persona, she intended for the audience to sympathize with her.[17] She did not read Conran's novel, on which the movie was based, because she did not want to have a "fixed image."[17] Her line in the film, "Which one of you bitches is my mother?" was named the greatest line in television history by TV Guide in 1993.[18]

In 1985, Cates appeared off-Broadway in Rich Relations, written by David Henry Hwang at the Second Stage Theatre.[19] In 1994, she starred in the fact-based romantic comedy-drama Princess Caraboo.

Cates retired from acting in 1994 to raise her children, Owen and Greta.[citation needed] She returned in 2001 for one film, The Anniversary Party, as a favor to her best friend and former Fast Times at Ridgemont High castmate Jennifer Jason Leigh,[citation needed] who directed the film.

In 2015, Cates provided the voice of her Gremlins character Kate Beringer for the video game Lego Dimensions.[20]

Personal life[edit]

In the early 1980s, Cates shared an apartment in Greenwich Village with her then boyfriend Stavros Merjos. She met him in 1979 after she went to her first night at Studio 54 with family friend Andy Warhol.[12]

In 1983, during her audition for a role (awarded to Meg Tilly) in The Big Chill, Cates met actor Kevin Kline. They were both dating other people at the time, but became romantically involved two years later. In 1989, they married, and she changed her name to Phoebe Cates Kline.[21] The Klines moved to the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York across Fifth Avenue from Central Park where they raised their two children, son Owen Joseph Kline (born 1991) and daughter Greta Simone Kline (born 1994). Owen and Greta appeared, with their parents, in the 2001 movie The Anniversary Party. Owen also appeared in the 2005 film The Squid and the Whale, and Greta pursued a musical career using the stage name Frankie Cosmos.[22]

In 2005, Cates opened a boutique, Blue Tree, on Madison Avenue in the Upper East Side, a few blocks from their home.[23]


Film and television[edit]

Cates and Kevin Kline at an after party for the 1989 Academy Awards
Year Film Role Notes
1982 Paradise Sarah
1982 Fast Times at Ridgemont High Linda Barrett
1983 Private School Christine Ramsey
1983 Baby Sister Annie Burroughs TV movie
1984 Lace Elizabeth "Lili" Lace Miniseries
1984 Gremlins Kate Beringer
1985 Lace II Elizabeth "Lili" Lace Miniseries
1987 Date with an Angel Patricia "Patty" Winston
1988 Bright Lights, Big City Amanda Conway
1989 Shag Carson McBride
1989 Heart of Dixie Aiken Reed
1990 I Love You to Death Joey's Girl at Disco Uncredited
1990 Gremlins 2: The New Batch Kate Beringer
1991 Drop Dead Fred Elizabeth "Lizzie" Cronin
1993 Bodies, Rest & Motion Carol
1994 Princess Caraboo Princess Caraboo/Mary Baker
2001 The Anniversary Party Sophia Gold

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2015 Lego Dimensions Kate Beringer Voice


  1. ^ "Blue Tree About". Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  2. ^ "Famous birthdays for July 16: Alexandra Shipp, Will Ferrell". United Press International. Retrieved November 2, 2019. Actor Phoebe Cates in 1963 (age 56)
  3. ^ Thomas, Jr., Robert McGill (October 12, 1998). "Joseph Cates, 74, a Producer Of Innovative Specials for TV". The New York Times. Retrieved May 16, 2013.
  4. ^ Wakin, Daniel J. (June 3, 2005). "Heiress Is Identified as Victim in Case Against Arts Patron". The New York Times. Retrieved June 12, 2019.
  5. ^ "American Greed: Fraudster of the Opera | Frozen Assets: The Ice Capers". Retrieved July 16, 2013.
  6. ^ Villasanta, Boy (June 23, 2010). "Pinoys who made it in Hollywood". ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs. Archived from the original on May 23, 2011. Retrieved May 28, 2011.
  7. ^ Slater, Judith J. (2004). Teen life in Asia. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 183. ISBN 978-0-313-31532-9. Retrieved May 28, 2011.
  8. ^ Cohen, Matthew Isaac (2009). "British performances of Java, 1811–1822". South East Asia Research. IP Publishing Ltd. 17 (1): 87–109. doi:10.5367/000000009787586389. S2CID 147291754.
  9. ^ "ABC7 Eyewitness News - WABC-TV New York".
  10. ^ "Yahoo movies". Retrieved March 7, 2010.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Cohen, D. & S. Young and Famous: Hollywood's Newest Superstars, 1987. p.75. ISBN 0-671-63493-3
  12. ^ a b c Hammer, Josh (June 14, 1982). "Paradise Star Phoebe Cates Hangs Her Own Film with a One-Word Review—'rip-Off'". Retrieved December 8, 2012.
  13. ^ "Paradise".
  14. ^ Beck, Marilyn (March 17, 1982). "Hollywood: Nude scenes too much for Aames." The Orange County Register. p C3
  15. ^ Rolling Stone staff (November 21, 2006). "Escape Your Family: Sneak Upstairs!". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on September 15, 2009. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
  16. ^ a b "'Lace' miniseries is soap-opera tangle" by Associated Press, Star-News, February 24, 1984. p. 5C
  17. ^ a b "Angela Lansbury leads 'Lace' cast" by Julianne Hastings, Stars and Stripes, March 7, 1984. p. 12.
  18. ^ TV Guide April 17–23, 1993. pg. 96
  19. ^ Rich, Frank (April 22, 1986). "New York Times-Stage: 'Rich Relations'". Retrieved March 7, 2010.
  20. ^ Schmidt, Sara (March 26, 2017). "Where is the Gremlins cast today?". Screen Rant. p. 4. Retrieved November 1, 2017.
  21. ^ "About Blue Tree". Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved November 13, 2012.
  22. ^ Pelly, Jenn. "Frankie Cosmos". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  23. ^ "ABC News (June 1, 2006): Perfect Gifts, According to Phoebe Cates: Former Teen Starlet Owns Upper East Side Gift Store (Archive)". June 1, 2006. Archived from the original on February 18, 2009. Retrieved March 7, 2010.

External links[edit]