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Before 1997’s Titanic officially set Leonardo DiCarprio into superstardom, he had a starring role in 1993’s What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.
Following the news that his on-screen mother for the film, Darlene Cates, had passed away at the age of 69, DiCaprio took to his Facebook to offer a heartfelt tribute to the actress. “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 whole loved her work. My thoughts and prayers are with her family during this difficult time.”
Cates’ sister confirmed on Tuesday, March 28 that Darlene had passed away in her sleep at the age of 69 on Sunday, March 26. “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. We take comfort in knowing that she is no longer in pain and is in the arms of our Heavenly Father.”
Cates portrayed DiCaprio and Johnny Depp’s morbidly obese mother in the film, leaving Depp’s character (Gilbert Grape) to care for his mentally disabled younger brother Arnie (DiCaprio). The role earned DiCaprio Oscar and Golden Globe nominations in 1994 for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.