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Darlene Cates, Star of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Dead at 69

Darlene Cates, who starred with Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” has died at 69.

According to media reports, she died in her sleep.

As the NY Daily News reports:

Cates passed away in her sleep Sunday morning, TMZ reports, citing the actress’ family. A cause of death was not immediately made available.

Born in Forger, Texas, in 1947, Cates enjoyed a brief but memorable entertainment career. Her first foray into the acting realm came in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” in which she earned considerable acclaim for her portrayal of the morbidly obese mother to the 1993 drama movie’s main character, played by Johnny Depp.

Cates landed the role of Bonnie Grape after the film’s author and screenwriter discovered her during an episode of the “Sally Jessy Raphael” talk show where she spoke about her battle with obesity and explained how pelvic infections left her bedridden for two years, causing her to gain nearly 150 pounds.

Following her performance in “Gilbert Grape,” she landed several TV roles, including ones on the series “Picket Fences” and “Touched by an Angel.”

She will also posthumously star in the upcoming comedy film “Billboard,” which has already been recorded.

DiCaprio opined, “Darlene was the best acting mom I ever had the privilege of working alongside. Her endearing personality and incredible talent will live on in the memories of those who knew her, and those who loved her work. My thoughts and prayers are with her family during this difficult time.”

Let us pray for Cates’ family during this difficult time. Rest in peace.