Darlene Cates, the former co-star to Leonardo DiCaprio in the film “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” died on Sunday morning in her sleep.
The author of Gilbert Grape discovered Cates after seeing a tape of the actress on a television in 1985. The woman had a pelvic infection that caused her to be 150lbs overweight permanently.
Cates is known for playing the obese mother of DiCaprio and Depp in the legendary film. “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” is the movie responsible for shining light on Leonardo DiCaprio as an actor and jumpstarting his career.
DiCaprio paid tribute to the death of Darlene Cates, declaring her the “best onscreen mom he ever worked with.”
He added, “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.”
Darlene was the best acting mom I ever had the privilege of working alongside. Her endearing personality and incredible…
In a Dallas Morning Interview, Cates explained that she could play an excellent mom as an actress. She didn’t need to try hard to play that role.
“What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” earned DiCaprio his first nomination when he was 19-years-old. After DiCaprio received the nomination, he wrote to Cates saying that he wasn’t the best writer in the world and not fully able to express the admiration and respect that he had for Cates as his mentor on set.
Cates suffered from health problems her whole life and even lost 250lbs so that she could start acting again. She went on to appear on TV shows like Picket Fences and Touched By An Angel in 1996.
“What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” is considered to be a cult classic now because of DiCaprio’s first Academy Award nominee and the appearance of both DiCaprio and Depp on screen.