Darlene Cates, mother in ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,’ passes away at age 69

Photo by Michael Ainsworth/The Dallas Morning News via AP, 2012

Darlene Cates, the actress best known for her role as the mother in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape has passed away.

Her daughter, Sheri, shared the news on Facebook: “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.”

Cates was cast as Bonnie Grape, the matriarch in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, after being discovered on a segment on the talk show Sally Jessy Raphael, that focused on her struggles with obesity.

The cast of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape ©Paramount

The 1993 film starred Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio, who earned his first Oscar nomination for his performance.

Cates went on to make appearances on TV in Picket Fences, Touched by an Angel, and the made-for-TV movie Wolf Girl.





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