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Darlene Cates, the mother in ‘Gilbert Grape,’ dies at 69

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Darlene Cates (PHOTO: TMZ)

NEW YORK —   Darlene Cates, who played the housebound mother in the 1993 film “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” has died.

Cates died in her sleep Sunday morning at her home in Forney, Texas, according to her son-in-law, David Morgan. She was 69.

Cates was cast in the film as the morbidly obese mother of Johnny Depp, in the title role, and his younger brother, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. She had been spotted by the film’s screenwriter, Peter Hedges, while appearing on the “Sally Jessy Raphael” talk show, where she discussed her struggles with her weight.

The film, directed by Lasse Hallstrom, won acclaim for its sensitive portrayal of a troubled but loving family in a small Iowa town.

Cates later appeared on episodes of the series “Picket Fences” and “Touched By an Angel.”

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