Darlene Cates Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trivia (10)  | Personal Quotes (2)

Overview (4)

Born in Borger, Texas, USA
Died in Forney, Texas, USA  (natural causes)
Birth NameRita Darlene Guthrie
Height 5' 9" (1.75 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Cates' acting career ignited after she appeared on an episode of Sally Jessy Raphael (1983), titled "Too Heavy to Leave Their House". Shortly after, author and screenwriter Peter Hedges proposed to her that she play Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio's morbidly obese and housebound mother in What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)--Cates accepted. Her performance earned stellar reviews; Roger Ebert said about the actress, "Darlene Cates, making her movie debut, has an extraordinary presence on the screen. We see that she is fat but we see many other things, too, including the losses and disappointments in her life, and the ability she finds to take a grip and make a new start." The actress went on to appear in a handful of film and television projects before succumbing to natural causes, she was 69. When the The Guardian released a statement on the actress's death, Leonard DiCaprio paid tribute to the actress identifying her as "the best acting mom I ever had".

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anthony Ronald Vario

Spouse (1)

Robert Cates (11 January 1963 - 26 March 2017) ( her death) ( 3 children)

Trivia (10)

Lost 244 pounds in 2012, bringing her weight from 575 pounds to 331.
Has one daughter, Sheri Ann (b. January 1966), and two sons: Mark (b. October 1967) and Chris (b. 1971)
After years of loneliness, reclusive behavior and chronic depression, she began to return to the world despite her obesity with help of an anti-depressant medication and her story became public news.
The wife of a postal worker, she has three children--Sheri, Mark and Chris. She had her first child at age 18 and is a grandmother of four.
Author and screenwriter Peter Hedges saw a tape of her on the segment of Sally Jessy Raphael (1983) entitled, "Too Heavy to Leave Their House." On the show she spoke of her self-imposed imprisonment. Hedges, writer of What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) offered her the role of the morbidly obese mother in the film, which she accepted.
Had her stomach stapled (gastroplasty) in 1981 when she weighed 410 pounds and lost 100 pounds, but eventually gained all that weight back and more, going up to 550 pounds. She has had two very close friends die of complications from weight-loss surgery.
Has since done children's school seminars on weight and self-esteem.
Grew up in the panhandle town of Dumas, TX, the daughter of a homemaker and a gas-station attendant who divorced when she was 12. Two years later she met her future husband and lied to him about her age. After a year's courtship they married; he was 25, she 15.
In her early years she took solace in food. Her overeating, compounded by a thyroid condition and slow metabolism, led to substantial weight gains, and in 1986 pelvic infections kept her bedridden for two years, during which she gained 150 pounds.
In 1992 she received her high school diploma via correspondence courses and emerged from her house after a five-year period of reclusion.

Personal Quotes (2)

I wish everyone that's kind of hiding away at home still could understand or could have the same experience that I did. Once I did the [Sally Jessy Raphael (1983)] show, all of a sudden I realized that if I went out and people stared at me, I wouldn't know if they were staring at me because I was fat or because they recognized me from being on TV. That empowered me.
[about working on What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)] 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. I talked with the author,Peter Hedges. There were some things in the book that I didn't like. We talked about those extensively and I trusted him because the character was based on somebody that meant something to him in his life. So I knew that it wouldn't be anything horrible. As we went along I was so proud of the way that the character was portrayed and so proud of the way that the children came around to see that this woman had these good qualities, and how much she really did care about her family.

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