Karen Belz
March 29, 2017 7:01 am

We’ve got some sad news — actress Darlene Cates passed away this week at the age of 69. As she was best known for playing the mom in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Leonardo DiCaprio posted a tribute to Cates that’s reminding us just how incredible both she and DiCaprio were in the 1993 classic drama.

The movie, which starred Johnny Depp, was definitely a breakout film for both DiCaprio and Cates. The movie focused on a troubled family who had a lot going against them, but still had a deep sense of love for each other. For Cates, the role was especially eye-opening. Playing a severely overweight woman, she wasn’t able to leave her house. The powerful role was actually her first.

Interestingly enough, she was discovered after appearing on Sally Jesse Raphael for having the same type of issue.

But lack of experience aside, that doesn’t mean she didn’t nail the role. Not only was she a shining star in the film, but in DiCaprio’s eyes, she was the “best acting mom” he ever had.

Cates passed away in her sleep at her home in Texas. According to People, her sister Sheri posted the following on Facebook:

While Cates doesn’t have much on her acting resume, she does have a film in post-production that’s scheduled to come out in the near future. Called Billboard, the last role that Cates took on is of a woman named Penny.

We’re so sad to hear of the news, but so happy that she touched so many lives — especially the life of DiCaprio.

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