Remember Phoebe Cates? Why the ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ Star Disappeared & Left Hollywood

Phoebe Cates was a beloved actress who graced our screens in many memorable films like Gremlins

and Drop Dead Fred. However, she remains iconic for her unforgettable, daring pool scene in 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Despite her success, Phoebe stepped away from Hollywood over two decades ago and now enjoys a quieter life

working a regular 9 to 5 job doing something she is passionate about.

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Born Phoebe Belle Cates on July 16, 1963, in New York City, she attended private schools and studied ballet at the prestigious Julliard. Acting was in her genes: her father, Joe Cates, was a producer-director, and her uncle was the president of the Director’s Guild. Both her brother and her sister, Valerie, were also involved in entertainment.

Though she initially pursued ballet, a knee injury forced her to stop. At 14, Phoebe turned to modeling and found considerable success, gracing the cover of Seventeen magazine four times. However, she quickly discovered that modeling wasn’t her true calling, citing the repetitive nature of the job.

”It was just the same thing, over and over. After a while, I did it solely for the money,” Phoebe said regarding her brief modeling stint. She then ventured into acting, meeting her film agent at a Studio 54 party in New York, and trained with Robert Ravan of The Actors’ Circle.

“I just knew that I didn’t want to go to college. And that it would be a great way of 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.

Phoebe made her acting debut in the 1982 film Paradise and quickly became a teen sensation with her role in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The film remains a cultural touchstone, particularly for its famous pool scene that Rolling Stone immortalized as “the most memorable bikini-drop in cinema history.”

Reflecting on the scene, Phoebe mentioned, “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?”

Fast Times at Ridgemont High featured a stellar cast, including Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Eric Stoltz, and Forest Whitaker. On the film’s enduring popularity, Jennifer Jason Leigh said, “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.”

Phoebe continued to charm audiences with roles in films like Private School in 1983 and Steven Spielberg’s Gremlins in 1984. It was during this period that she met her future husband, acclaimed theater actor Kevin Kline, while auditioning for The Big Chill. Although she didn’t land the role, she did find a life partner. The couple, despite a 16-year age gap, married in 1989 and have two children: Owen Joseph, born in 1991, and Greta Simone, born in 1994.

In 2017, as they celebrated 27 years of marriage, many wondered about the secret to their enduring happiness. Kline said, “We take care of the marriage.”

Phoebe gradually stepped back from acting after having children. By the 1990s, she was rarely seen in the entertainment industry.

In 1998, she told Playboy that she and Kline decided to alternate their acting jobs so that their children would always have one parent at home. Kline added that Phoebe preferred to stay home with the kids when it was her turn to work.

In 2005, Phoebe opened Blue Tree, a boutique near Carnegie Hall offering fragrances, clothing, and gifts. She fully immersed herself in her role as a shopkeeper, often working in the store and curating new products. Today, Phoebe’s shop can be found at 1283 Madison Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where she resides.

And by the way, Phoebe still looks absolutely amazing!

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