The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
Stars of the '80s
Phoebe Cates
Phoebe Belle Katz was born 16 July 1963 in New York City. Several members of her family were in show business, and had adopted the name Cates; her father, Joseph Cates was a television producer while her uncle, Gil Cates, was a movie producer. Phoebe attended the Professional Children's School and then the American School of Ballet, but a knee injury in 1977 cut her studies short. Inheriting exotic beauty from her Filipina mother, she turned to modeling and was featured on several magazine covers, including Seventeen, accelerating her transition to television and feature films. (Legend has it that Stuart Gilliard saw her on the dance floor at New York's Studio 54 and offered a part in Paradise.) Her big screen debut came in that 1982 film, and she immediately became one of the hottest properties in Hollywood, even though early on she tended to land in projects that critics generally slammed. A small but unforgettable role in Fast Times at Ridgemont High turned her into the fantasy of many a young man's dreams. She starred in the hugely successful miniseries Lace, and its equally popular sequel, and had major roles in Gremlins, Bright Lights, Big City and Heart of Dixie. The Eighties also saw her triumph on the stage; in 1984 she made her off-Broadway debut in Joseph Papp's The Nest of the Wood Grouse. She also appeared as Nina in the La Jolla Playhouse production of Chekhov's The Sea Gull, and played Juliet in the Goodman Theatre(Chicago) production of Romeo and Juliet.
Cates entered the Nineties poised to become a superstar in top-flight projects, an actress who had proven equally adept at light comedy and serious drama, and appeared in such films as Drop Dead Fred (1991), Bodies, Rest & Motion (1993) and turned in a well-received performance in 1994's Princess Caraboo. But she then decided to quite the movie business and devote herself full-time to raising her and husband Kevin Kline's children. Cates did not return to the screen until 2001, when she appeared in The Anniversary Party. She and her family reside much of the time at a country estate in upstate New York.
1980s Filmography
Paradise (1982)
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
Baby Sister (TV-1983)
Private School (1983)
Lace (TV-1984)
Gremlins (1984)
Lace II (TV-1985)
Date with an Angel (1987)
Bright Lights, Big City (1988)
Shag (1989)
Heart of Dixie (1989)




Critics' Comments
Paradise (1982)
"Cates has a lithe figure, flawless skin, and diction bad enough to make [Brooke] Shields sound like Helen Hayes"
-- People Weekly

Gremlins (1984)
"Spielberg...and company prove to be expert at raising laughter, tears, and goose-flesh -- all in a good-humored, fascinating way. [Zach] Galligan and Cates are an exceptionally appealing couple."
-- People Weekly

Date with an Angel (1987)
"Michael E. Knight stars as a composer whose relationship with Phoebe Cates, not to mention his normal life, is thrown for a tailspin when he wakes up one morning to find an injured angel (Emmanuelle Beart) in his pool. The rest is largely formulaic, but never dull thanks mainly to Cates and the wonderful [Emmanuelle] Beart."
-- Wade Majors, Box Office Online

Shag (1989)
"The four girls are played by Phoebe Cates, Bridget Fonda, Page Hannah and Annabeth Gish....The actors in "Shag" are some of the best of the younger generation in Hollywood, and they treat their material with the humor and delicacy it deserves. Children of a harder time, they seem almost gentle and affectionate toward their characters."
-- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times


Phoebe Cates in Lace II


Cate's godmother was screen superstar Joan Crawford.
In 1984 she made Harper Bazaar's list of America's 10 Most Beautiful Women.
Matsumoto Izumi, creator of the popular Kimagure Orange Road manga series and animated TV series, Cates was the inspiration for the character "Ayukawa Madoka".
Cates sang two songs -- "Just One Touch" and "How Do I Let You Know" -- on the soundtrack for Private School.