Actress Darlene Cates died March 26 at the age of 69 at her home in Forney, Texas. Cates’ died in her sleep and has been listed as due to natural causes.
Cates is best known for her role as Leonardo DiCaprio’s mother in the film “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” The film also featured a young Johnny Depp.
Speaking on her role as his movie mom, DiCaprio said, “Darlene was the best acting mom I ever had the privilege of working alongside. 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.”
Cates appeared in only a few productions. She played herself in the television series “The Word”. After her debut performance in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” – a film about an Iowa family; she appeared in an episode of “Picket Fences”, “Touched by an Angel”, the TV movie “Wolf Girl”, and as the mother in the short “Mother”. Cates was also cast as Penny in “Billboard” which is currently in post production.
Reportedly she was discovered after appearing in the episode of a Sally Jesse Raphael episode – Too Heavy to Leave their House.
She was born Rita Darlene Guthrie on December 13, 1947 in Borger, Texas but grew up in Dumas, Texas.
Survivors include her husband of over 50 years Robert – whom she married when she was only 15, children – Sher, Mark, and Chris, and grandchildren.
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