'Gilbert Grape' Star Darlene Cates Dies At 69

Paramount Pictures

Sad news this week for movie fans. Actor Darlene Cates died Sunday at age 69, and according to The Hollywood Reporter, the news came from a Facebook post via her daughter, Sheri Cates Morgan, shared on Monday night. Although her cause of death has yet to be revealed, TMZ reports that family says she died in her sleep.

Cates was best known for her role in What's Eating Gilbert Grape, the 1993 movie where she played the housebound mother of Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio's characters. As TMZ adds, she was discovered on an episode of Sally Jesse Raphael, when the film's screenwriter, Peter Hedges, heard her talk about living with obesity and offered her the role of Bonnie Grape.

Since then, Cates only acted in a few smaller roles, including guest spots on Touched By An Angel and Picket Fences. Although she tended to keep a lower profile after Gilbert Grape, in 2012 she told the Dallas Morning News that she had lost 250 pounds and was hoping that she would be able to act again someday.

In Cates' daughter's Facebook post, she remembered her mother's love for her family and mentioned that she was happy that Cates was now "no longer in pain."

Cates may be gone, but she will always be remembered for her role in such a legendary film — and it sounds like her family will definitely never forget her, either. Here's hoping they're able to find peace during what has to be a truly difficult time.