The famously overweight star passed away on Sunday morning (26Mar17), according to TMZ.com.

She was best known for her acting debut in the 1993 movie, in which she played Gilbert's mother Bonnie, who is obese and unable to leave the house.

Cates was discovered by the film's screenwriter Peter Hedges, who saw her in a 1985 episode of The Sally Jessy Raphael Show entitled Too Heavy to Leave Their House, in which she discussed her weight and how it affected her life.

He offered her the role and she starred alongside the likes of Johnny Depp, who played Gilbert, and Leonardo Dicaprio, who portrayed Arnie Grape.

Cates subsequently enjoyed guest roles on TV shows such as Picket Fences and Touched by an Angel and in 2001 TV movie Wolf Girl. She had recently finished filming a comedy named Billboard, according to IMDb.com.