Friday, 22 February, 2019

Darlene Cates, the mother in 'Gilbert Grape,' dies at 69

Screenwriter Peter Hedges discovered Cates when she appeared on a talk show and asked her to play the morbidly obese mother of Gilbert and Leonardo Caprio's character Arnie Grape Darlene Cates, the mother in 'Gilbert Grape,' dies at 69
Stacy Diaz | 29 March, 2017, 01:21

Her daughter Sheri Cates Morgan shared the news last night on Facebook, writing: "It is with a bitter-sweet heart that we share that our precious wife, mother, and Gaga, Darlene Guthrie Cates, was called Home, somewhat unexpectedly, peacefully in her sleep Sunday morning, March 26th".

Darlene Cates, who played the Gilbert's mom in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape", has died. DiCaprio would go on to earn a best supporting actor Oscar nomination, at a mere 19, for his role as the developmentally-disabled teen.

Cates' career kicked off when she was discovered by screenwriter Peter Hedges after he saw her on an episode of Sally Jessy Raphael.

"No one could've been more surprised than I was because I was just a fat housewife in Forney, Texas, of all places", Cates said of her casting. On the show, Cates talked about how being morbidly obese impacted her livelihood, openly discussing how a pelvic infection caused her to gain 150 pounds.

It was a triumph, too, for her fans, many of whom wrote to Cates, thanking her for her bravery.

Cates later appeared on TV shows like Picket Fences in 1994 and Touched by an Angel in 1996.

After a 2010 health issue left her hospitalized for almost a year, Darlene shed 240 pounds and revealed during a 2012 interview that she hoped to one day return to acting. She is survived by her husband of 54 years, three children, and four grandchildren.