×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’ Star Darlene Cates Dies at 69

Darlene Cates, known for playing the mother in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” has died. She was 69.

Cates’ daughter, Sheri Cates Morgan, announced in a Facebook post that her mother died “peacefully in her sleep” on Sunday morning.

“We take comfort in knowing that she is no longer in pain and is in the arms of our Heavenly Father, breaking away only to dance with our Savior, Jesus,” the daughter wrote. “(Dancing was something she talked about loving to do ‘back in the day’!)”

“Gilbert Grape” star Leonardo DiCaprio honored his on-screen mother in a Facebook post on Tuesday afternoon.

“Darlene was the best acting mom I ever had the privilege of working alongside,” DiCaprio wrote. “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.”

Cates was born in Borger, Texas and grew up in Dumas. Her breakout role in Hollywood was also her first when she was offered the role of a housebound mother in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” The drama, which starred a young Johnny Depp, notably earned DiCaprio his first Oscar nomination.

The actress was allegedly discovered by “Gilbert Grape” author and screenwriter Peter Hedges after she appeared on an episode of Sally Jessy Raphael’s talk show titled “Too Heavy to Leave Their House.” On the program, Cates discussed how being obese impacted her life.

After “Gilbert Grape” Cates’ acting career was limited to guest turns in “Touched by an Angel,” “Picket Fences” and the TV movie “Wolf Girl.”

Watch a video of the “Best Moments of Mamma Grape” below:

More Film

  • Glass trailer

    'Glass': Five Box Office Takeaways From M. Night Shyamalan's Thriller

    With his fifth No. 1 box office opening, M. Night Shyamalan has plenty to celebrate. “Glass,” the conclusion to a trilogy that consists of the 2000 cult hit “Unbreakable” and 2016’s box office sensation “Split,” topped the box office last weekend — though its win comes with a few caveats. James McAvoy reprised his role [...]

  • Berlin: Patra Spanou Picks Up Panorama

    Berlin: Patra Spanou Picks Up Panorama Title 'Family Members' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Patra Spanou has picked up world sales rights to “Los miembros de la familia” (Family Members), which will world premiere in the Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama section. Variety has been given an exclusive first look of the film’s trailer. The film is the second feature from writer/director Mateo Bendesky, and is produced by Agustina Costa [...]

  • Great Point Media, The Development Partnership

    Great Point Media, The Development Partnership Join Forces on Slate of Movies

    Great Point Media and The Development Partnership, the development and production arm of the talent agency the Artists Partnership, are joining forces to develop, package, and co-produce multiple films, kicking off with three projects, including “Chasing Agent Freegard,” starring James Norton (“War & Peace”). “Chasing Agent Freegard,” which is being produced by “Captain Phillips” co-producer [...]

  • Berlin: FiGa Acquires ‘Landless,’ Drops ‘Hormigas’

    Berlin: FiGa Acquires ‘Landless,’ Drops ‘Hormigas’ Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sandro Fiorin’s Miami-based FiGa Films, a leading sales agent on the independent Latin American scene, has announced the acquisition of Brazilian doc “Landless,” and released a trailer for the Costa Rican-Spanish drama “El despertar de las hormigas.” Both features will play at this year’s Berlinale Forum and come from young Latin American filmmakers making their [...]

  • Ryan Reynolds Cancels Arm Surgery to

    Ryan Reynolds Cancels Arm Surgery to Promote 'Deadpool 2' in China

    Ryan Reynolds canceled surgery on his arm to fly to China and charm “Deadpool” fans in Beijing on Sunday ahead of the franchise’s unexpected China theatrical debut. Just last week, Fox suddenly announced that a re-cut, PG-13 “Deadpool 2” would hit Chinese theaters starting this Friday – the first time the notoriously blood-splattered and foul-mouthed [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content