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15Phoebe Cates

Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Phoebe Cates became a rising star in her teens. After working as a model and a dancer, she studied at the prestigious Julliard School and decided to transition to acting. She began scoring good parts almost right away, including a role in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. A

topless pool scene in that film didn’t just make her into a sex symbol; it made her into one of the sex symbols of cinema, and the scene ranks alongside Marilyn Monroe’s subway skirt-blowing in The Seven Year Itch as one of the most titillating ever.

Following Fast Times, Cates had another hit with Gremlins, playing the protagonist's girlfriend. Other similar roles followed, and Cates began to get frustrated with the lack of good parts coming her way. After headlining the 1991 cult comedy Drop Dead Fred, she began to lower her profile. She officially retired from acting in 1994 to focus on family life, playing mom to her children with husband/fellow actor Kevin Kline. She did make one brief return to acting in 2001 opposite Kline for director/star/best friend Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Anniversary Party, a semi-improvised film. Cates’ turn proved she’d lost none of her acting talent or charisma, and raised hopes that she might once again grace the screen with her presence full time.

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