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

She died “peacefully in her sleep” on Sunday, daughter says

Gilbert Grape
'What's Eating Gilbert Grape?'

Darlene Cates, the mother in the Oscar-nominated 1993 movie “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” has died. She was 69.

Cates was best-known for director Lasse Hallstrom’s drama, which starred Johnny Depp and a young Leonardo DiCaprio — the latter earned his first Oscar nomination for his role as Depp’s mentally disabled brother.

Cates’ 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.”

Here’s the full social media post:

Darlene Cates was discovered by “Gilbert Grape” screenwriter Peter Hedges, who saw her on the “Sally Jessy Raphael” show. Her episodes was titled, “Too Heavy to Leave Their House.”

Watch some of her segment here:

Following the 1993 film, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp, Cates appeared on one episode apiece of “Picket Fences” and “Touched By an Angel.”