Orange Is the New Black star Kathryn Kates dies after brave cancer battle: ‘She was a true icon’

Kathryn Kates, playing Amy Kanter-Bloom, speaks into a phone

Orange Is the New Black star Kathryn Kates, who was a “powerful force of nature” in the acting world, has died aged 73, her representatives confirmed.

Headline Talent Agency said the actress died on Saturday (23 January) in Florida after a battle with cancer. The agency also released a touching tribute to Kates on Instagram.

“She will always be remembered and adored in our hearts as the powerful force of nature she was,” the agency wrote. “She loved this craft and had enough patience to fill 10 ships. A true icon. We will miss you.”

In a separate statement to Deadline, Headline Talent revealed that Kates had been a client for “many years”, and the organisation had “grown much closer to her in this last year” after she “knew of her cancer returning”.

“She was always incredibly brave and wise and approached every role with the greatest of passion,” Headline Talent said. “She will be greatly missed.”

Kathryn Kates was well-known for her role as Amy Kanter-Bloom, the mother of Piper Chapman’s ex-fiancé Larry, in Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black. She also appeared several times on the long-running show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as judge Marlene Simons.

Kates appeared in two episodes of the hit comedy series Seinfeld as a role only credited as “counter woman”. She was also known for her roles in Matlock, Thunder Alley, Lizzie McGuire and the Jennifer Lopez-starring Shades of Blue.

More recently, Kates featured in the 2021 short film Welcome to Sarajevo, and she portrayed Angie DeCarlo in the Sopranos spin-off movie The Many Saints of Newark.

A minute and a half-long video was posted to Kathyrn Kates’ Instagram account shortly after her death, in which the beloved actor performed a sonnet.

An emotional caption, seemingly penned by Kates before her death, accompanied the short video which borrowed lines from the bereavement poem titled “Do not stand at my grave and weep”.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Kathryn Kates (@officialkathrynkates)

“Keep me alive in your beautiful hearts with unforgettable memories,” Kates wrote. “Teach others what you’ve learned from me and I will live in forever.”

Kathyrn Kates is survived by her sister, Mallory, and brother, Joshua, sister-in-laws and her nephew, Deadline reported.