Forney resident, ‘Gilbert Grape’ mom Darlene Cates dies

FORNEY – The Forney woman Leonard DiCaprio called “the best acting mama I ever had” has died, according to her family.

Darlene Guthrie Cates, who played a morbidly obese mother to Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio in the 1993 Lasse Halstrom movie What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, died in her sleep early Sunday, according to a Facebook post made by her daughter, Sheri Cates Morgan.

“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,” the post reads.

Cates was 69. She won the role of Bonnie Grape after being seen on a segment of The Sally Jesse Raphael Show, talking about how her weight made her afraid to leave her home.

Johnny Depp had the title role in the movie, playing a grocery store clerk who worked with his siblings to take care of their housebound mother. DiCaprio was nominated for an Oscar for his role as the mentally-challenged brother, Arnie. In a letter to Cates, he told her, “I’ll always remember you as the best acting mama I’ve ever had. You triumphed in your role.”

Cates talked to the Dallas Morning News in 1993 about her role in the movie, as well as other roles she would like to play.