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A representative for Kates confirmed her death to EW. Headline Talent Agency also posted a tribute on its Instagram account Monday.
"Our mighty @officialkathrynkates has passed away. She will always be remembered and adored in our hearts as the powerful force of nature she was," read the caption posted alongside a photo of the actress. "She loved this craft and had enough patience to fill 10 ships. A true icon. We will miss you."
Walter McBride/WireImage Kathryn Kates
A native New Yorker, Kates relocated to Los Angeles in 1974 to pursue acting, finding a place in the theater community at Burbank's Colony Theatre, where she was also a founding member. According to her official biography, she headlined numerous productions there, including an adaptation of Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles, in which she starred with Ed Harris. Her theater background led her to take on multiple roles in regional tours and Off Broadway shows, and Kates served as the main understudy for the 2017 Broadway show Significant Other.
Kates also racked up an impressive résumé on the small screen, with roles in popular series such as Caroline in the City, Rescue Me, Shades of Blue, Lizzie McGuire, and Orange Is the New Black, in which she played the mother of Jason Biggs' character Larry. However, her most well-known parts were on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, in which she portrayed Judge Marlene Simons, and in two iconic episodes of Seinfeld, 1994's "The Dinner Party" and 1996's "The Rye."
Kates is survived by her sister Mallory, her brother Joshua, her sisters-in-law Sue Ann and Gloria, and her nephew Ben.