'What's Eating Gilbert Grape' mother Darlene Cates dies at 69



Darlene Cates, the actress best known for her role in What's Eating Gilbert Grape, died Sunday morning, her daughter Sheri Cates Morgan announced on Facebook. She was 69.

Cates played the housebound, morbidly obese mother to Johnny Depp's Gilbert Grape and Leonardo DiCaprio's Arnie Grape in the 1993 film. DiCaprio earned a best supporting actor Oscar nomination, at age 19, for his role as the disabled teen.

"I'm not really the best in expressing my words in writing but you are the most special person I have ever [met]," DiCaprio wrote Cates after the film. "I'll always remember you as the best acting mamma I ever had. You triumphed in your role."

"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," wrote Morgan in a post along with two photos of Cates. "We take comfort in knowing that she is no longer in pain and is in the arms of our Heavenly Father, breaking away only to dance with our Savior, Jesus."

She added, "Dancing was something she talked about loving to do 'back in the day'!)"

Celebration arrangements are pending.