Unveiling the Untold Story: Why Phoebe Cates Stepped Away from Hollywood After ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High

“Phoebe Cates: From Bikini Icon to Family-Focused Shop Owner”

Phoebe Cates shot to stardom with one of the most iconic bikini scenes in cinematic history when she posed topless by the pool in 1982’s ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High.’ This moment made her an instant icon, and Rolling Stone magazine dubbed it “the most memorable bikini-drop in cinema history.”


Born into a family deeply entrenched in the world of acting and directing, it seemed that performing was in Cates’ blood. However, her journey had its twists and turns. As a teenager, she had a passion for dancing and even earned a scholarship to the School of American Ballet. Unfortunately, a knee injury forced her to give up dancing at the age of 14.

With her dancing dreams deferred, Phoebe Cates turned her attention to modeling, where she quickly became a sensation, gracing the covers of numerous teen-oriented magazines, including four appearances on Seventeen magazine’s cover. Over time, though, the repetitive nature of modeling began to wear on her, and she felt it was all about the money.


“It was just the same thing, over and over. After a while, I did it solely for the money,” she reflected on her modeling career. Her path took an unexpected turn one night at the legendary New York’s Studio 54 when she crossed paths with her future film agent. This encounter eventually led her to train with Robert Ravan, the 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 of getting out of college if I could get a couple of movies or something. Seriously. It’s true,” she explained in an interview with The Daily Item in 1985.

Phoebe Cates (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Phoebe Cates (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Phoebe Cates made her acting debut in 1982, starring as Sarah in “Paradise.” This marked the beginning of her acting career, which included notable films like “Experienced” and, of course, “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” In the entertainment industry, Cates was well aware of the expectations on female actors, stating, “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 cast of emerging stars, including Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Eric Stoltz, and Forest Whitaker.


Cates’ acting career continued to flourish, but eventually, she made the life-changing decision to step away from the limelight. Motherhood played a significant role in this choice as she and her husband, Kevin Kline, a highly regarded theater actor 16 years her senior, decided to alternate their acting commitments to ensure their children always had a parent present.

Phoebe Cates and Kevin Kline have been happily married for 33 years, and in 2017, they shared their wisdom on the secret to a long-lasting marriage – taking care of it. Today, the former teen model and actress has transitioned into a different role as a shop owner. Her store, Blue Tree, is located at 1283 Madison Avenue in New York City, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where she and her family reside. In her 9-to-5 job, she sells fragrances, clothing, and gifts.

Phoebe Cates attends the 71st Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 11, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)

While Phoebe Cates’ career path may have evolved, one thing that remains unchanged is her timeless beauty.

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