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‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’ Actress Passes Away After Fulfilling Her Dream

Darlene Cates, an American actress, passed away at the age of 69-years-old, her daughter reported in a Facebook post. According to the death announcement, she died peacefully in her sleep at home, though her passing took her family by surprise. She is survived by her daughter, two sons and four grandchildren.

"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 Cates’ daughter in the announcement.

The actress is most famously known for her role in the film, ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.’ In the film, she played the mother to the titular character, played by Johnny Depp, and a mentally challenged teen, played by a young Leonardo DiCaprio in his breakout role.

In the movie, Cates played a woman who was homebound and struggling with morbid obesity. This isn’t very far off from real life, as Cates had struggled with her weight all of her life. When she was 12 years old, her parents got divorced, and as a child she turned to food for comfort. As an adult, she reached over 400 pounds.

“That thing that made you fat in the first place? They don’t cut that out during surgery,” she once said in an interview. “The pressures that caused you to seek solace in food are still there when you come home from the hospital.”

In 1981, Cates underwent weight loss surgery. As a result, she dropped almost 100 pounds, but continued to struggle with her eating habits and eventually gained it all back.

In the early 1990s she got her health under control for a time being and took a brave plunge: she began a career in acting.

“I had to make a choice, I could stay where I was and be miserable, or I could take a risk and do something exciting,” Cates said in an interview. She landed the role in ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’ and began to live her dream.

“No one could’ve been more surprised than I was because I was just a fat housewife in Forney, Texas, of all places,” she said of her landing the role. "I was sort of skeptical, but when I started reading, Lasse threw his hands in the air and said, ‘Finally! Somebody that can act!’”

She went on to appear in episodes of television shows like shows 'Picket Fences', 'Touched by an Angel' and 'Wolf Girl'.

Cates has been out of the limelight for years as she struggled with health problems. Her weight led to pelvic infections, which resulted in her being bedridden for more than two years. In 2010, she spent almost a year in the hospital.

While bedridden, Cates’ weight skyrocketed to an extremely alarming 550 pounds. Still, the actress had hoped to get her weight and her health back under control so that she could return to her career. Unfortunately, the actress was only in one last film before her unexpected passing. She’s playing the role of Penny in ‘Billboard’, an independent film slated for release in 2018.

Source: Mail Online
Photo: YouTube

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