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Leonardo DiCaprio Pays Heartfelt Tribute to Darlene Cates: ‘She Was the Best Acting Mom I Ever Had’

Leonardo DiCaprio has paid a heartfelt tribute to his What’s Eating Gilbert Grape co-star Darlene Cates after she died.

The actor played the late actress’ son in the 1993 flick, but still described her in a Facebook post on Tuesday, March 28 as “the best acting mom I ever had the privilege of working alongside.”

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He added: “Her endearing personality and incredible talent will lie on in the memories of those who knew her, and those who loved her work. My thoughts and prayers are with her family during this difficult time.”

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Cates’ sister Sheri Cates Morgan revealed the news that the actress died in her sleep at the age of 69 on Sunday.

“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.”

The actress played Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio’s morbidly obese mother in the movie. Cates was cast after Gilbert Grape author and screenwriter Peter Hedges reportedly saw her in an old 1992 episode of Sally Jessy Raphael’s talk show called “Too Heavy to Leave Their House.”

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In the episode, Cates, who weighed more than 500 pounds, discussed how obesity impacted her life and how a pelvic infection caused her to gain nearly 150 pounds.

Cates lost and gained hundreds of pounds over her lifetime.

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