Darlene Cates - Famous Actor

Darlene Cates Net Worth


Darlene Cates, famous for her portrayal of Bonnie Grape in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”, had an estimated net worth of $200 thousand. Despite her success in the film industry, Cates had to battle obesity, causing her to be bedridden for two years and weighing over 500 pounds at her heaviest. She passed away in 2017 at the age of 69.

Key facts:

The key facts about Darlene Cates mentioned in the text are:
  • She was an American actress
  • Cates played the role of Bonnie Grape in the movie "What's Eating Gilbert Grape"
  • She appeared in episodes of TV series, including "Picket Fences" and "Touched by an Angel"
  • Darlene Cates battled with obesity after a pelvic infection that caused her to be bedridden for two years
  • She lost 240 pounds of weight in 2012 after being hospitalized for a year
Despite her struggle with obesity, Darlene Cates proved her resilience as an actress through her unforgettable performance in the movie, "What's Eating Gilbert Grape". She will always be remembered for her talent and dedication in the entertainment industry.

Basic Information About Darlene Cates

CategoryCelebrities β€Ί Actors
Net worth$200,000
Date of birth1947-12-13 (75 years old)
Place of birthBorger
NationalityUnited States of America
Spouse11 January - Robert Cates (Β 1963 - 26 MarchΒ 2017)Β (her death)Β (3 children)
Social Mediaβ†—οΈŽ Wikipedia β†—οΈŽ IMDb

What Movie Awards did Darlene Cates win?


Golden Globe

Golder Raspberry


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Darlene Cates awards

Award Name State Movie / Series Name Year
ACCA - Best Actress in a Supporting RoleNomineeWhat's Eating Gilbert Grape1993

Darlene Cates roles

Movie / Series Role
What's Eating Gilbert GrapeMomma

Darlene Cates's Quotes

  • 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.

Darlene Cates’ Net Worth Details

Darlene Cates, who was born in Borger, Texas, amassed a net worth of $200 thousand during her career in the entertainment industry. She was first recognized for her role as Gilbert’s mother in the 1993 film “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” Despite only having limited acting experience, Cates had a great impact on audiences and directors alike, who saw her natural talent.

From her underrated success in Hollywood to her remarkable weight loss journey, it is clear that Darlene Cates left an unforgettable mark on the world.


What was Darlene Cates known for?

Absolutely talented and strong-willed, Darlene Cates was popularly known as the exquisite role player in the movie β€œWhat’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” Since the release of the movie in 1993, she garnered attention from both industry insiders and fans. Her unrivalled performance in the film has made her one of the most talked-about actresses in Hollywood. She had a hauntingly realistic portrayal of an overweight and mentally ill mother who had very few recorded lines. Her acting was so immersive that many people assumed she was playing herself.

Early Life and Education

Cates was born in Borger, Texas in December 1947. Even from a young age, she had always possessed talent which developed into an unwavering passion for acting. However, she had not made any advances into the industry until her breakout role of Bonnie Grape of “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” at the age of 46. Before that moment, her early years were not customarily comfortable. She experienced sexual assault during her teenage years and would try escaping reality by watching movies and TV shows, dreaming of one day becoming an actress. She eventually dropped out of high school to raise a family and later took up different odd jobs to make ends meet, diminishing her dream of becoming an actress.


After a turbulent journey of heartbreak, rejection, and setbacks, Darlene Cates began her unprecedented career with What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. Director Lasse Hallstrom noticed her in an episode of Sally Jessy Raphael’s talk show titled Too Heavy to Leave Their House” and invited her for an audition. It was during this audition that Hallstrom discovered an innate natural talent within Cates, which convinced him that she was the ideal candidate to play Bonnie Grape’s role.

Cates only had five acting credits to her name before continuing to spread her wings in the movie industry. She put up some fantastic performances in TV series such as “Picket Fences” and β€œTouched By An Angel,” where she topped charts with astonishing and nuanced performances.


Darlene Cates passed away in March 2017 at 69 years old. Although living with obesity consumed most of her lifetime, Cates began to exert control over her weight a few years previous, documenting her surgery on the renowned reality show “My 600-lb Life”. She made significant strides to improve her physical health following a year-long confinement at the hospital. However, Darlene’s health eventually experienced another setback that eventually led to her passing. She passed away peacefully in her sleep, leaving behind her beautiful legacy as a talented actress who proved that passion could conquer any obstacle.


Cates was predominantly recognized for her memorable performance on “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” where she played the emotionally unstable character of Bonnie Grape. Along with receiving widespread acclaim for this role, she also got featured in episodes of the TV series Picket Fences and Touched by an Angel. In Wolf Girl, a thriller film and short Mother movie, she added more distinct displays of her renowned acting skills.

Beyond the entertainment industry, Darlene Cates left an incredible impact on society. By opening up about her weight loss journey and sharing messages of hope with people struggling with body image issues, she became an inspiration to many. She served as a panel guest on famous talk shows and podcasts such as TLC’s “My 600-Ib Life,” where she shared her remarkable journey with a global audience and further solidified the love that the world had for her.

The Last Word

All in all, Darlene Cates strength in pursuing her dreams against all odds sets her apart from the standard Hollywood tale. For all her trials, she remains an example to those searching for hope and passion in life.

Interesting Facts about Darlene Cates

  1. Lost 244 pounds in 2012, bringing her weight from 575 pounds to 331.
  2. Has one daughter, Sheri Ann (b. January 1966), and two sons: Mark (b. October 1967) and Chris (b. 1971)
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Has since done children's school seminars on weight and self-esteem.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. In 1992 she received her high school diploma via correspondence courses and emerged from her house after a five-year period of reclusion.

Darlene Cates Famous Network

Male Actors ♂️ With Net Worth Closest To $200,000

Female Actors ♀️ With Net Worth Closest To $200,000

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