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

Darlene Cates, the actress who played Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio’s mother in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, has died.

Cates’s sister, Sheri Cates Morgan, shared a Facebook post confirming the news of her Darlene’s death.

“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,” wrote Sheri in the post.

Darlene was 69 years old.

According to People, Peter Hedges, the author and screenwriter of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, discovered Darlene when he saw her on a 1985 episode of Sally Jessy Raphael called “Too Heavy to Leave Their House.” On the episode, she opened up about her struggle with obesity and how she gained nearly 150 pounds due to a pelvic infection.

In a 2012 interview with Dallas News, Darlene revealed that she lost 244 pounds after four surgeries and three near-death experiences, but she still couldn’t walk.

“I can always tell when … [Gilbert Grape has] been on TV,” she told Dallas News, “because there’ll be a rush of ‘friend’ requests.”