Celebrity Retirement Scorecard: Phoebe Cates

Who is making it? Who is not? We've concocted retirement scorecards for some showcase retirees in entertainment, politics and sports. See the full list here.

Phoebe CatesWinner: Phoebe Cates
Former occupation/notable position held: Actress
Activities during retirement: full-time mom; part-time actress; boutique owner
Retirement Report Card Grade: B+

The scene is etched in the heads of many of a certain generation. Pool. Red bikini. Slow-motion walk, to the Cars' pulsating "Moving in Stereo." Judge Reinhold clandestinely gazing on, from not-so-afar at a young beauty named Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Who would have guessed some 25 years later the word "retired" -- and successfully, at that -- would be attached to Cates, especially after audiences realized her looks were just part of her appeal. (Turned out, she could really act.)

Cates constructively called her acting career quits after the birth of her son in 1991 (with husband Kevin Kline, who has not stopped working), appearing in just three films since. A daughter arrived in 1994. Cates rates a retirement "B+" because of her clear commitment to the choice of full-time parenting over what may have been an A-list Hollywood career. Planning and passion are two retirement success cornerstones and her path speaks of both. .

By returning to the screen sporadically, Cates keeps her options open – an ideal way for most any retiree, particularly those early-on, to operate. Leading-edge Boomer retirees, for example, are discovering that a modified version of work – one with more flexibility and less day-to-day responsibility -- to be an important part of their first phase of "retirement."

That Cates's most recent film, The Anniversary Party, cast her as a former full-time actress who retired to motherhood, winks and nods to her feeling comfortable with her choice. She opened a New York City boutique in 2005, and has been nurturing her own children's acting careers.

It's still early in the game for Cates, thus the B+ grade for now. Apparently healthy marriage, committed parent and varied interests are all the stuff of an eventual A.


Michael Burnham is CEO of My Next Phase, a consulting firm offering non-financial retirement planning products and services (www.mynextphase.com).

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