Charlotte Rae has bone cancer. The beloved Mrs. Garrett of Facts of Life fame turned 91 earlier this month.
“Last Monday, I found out I have bone cancer,” Charlotte Rae said during an interview with People. “About seven years ago, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer — which is a miracle that they found it because usually it’s too late. My mother, sister and my uncle died of pancreatic cancer. After six months of chemotherapy, I was cancer-free. I lost my hair, but I had beautiful wigs. Nobody even knew.”
Rae also portrayed Mrs. Edna Garrett on Different Strokes, another cult classic television show from the 1980s, before relocating the character to the show’s spinoff, Facts of Life.
— Lisa Gutierrez (@LisaGinKC) April 28, 2017
The Facts of Life star said she is feeling “terrific” and not in any pain right now, Fox News reports. She added that, at the age of 91, she is just “so glad to be above ground.”
Charlotte Rae will soon need to decide what type of treatment route she is willing to take. Rae said choosing treatment would mean she was opting for life, adding she does love life. She reportedly nixed plans to begin bone cancer treatment on Thursday.
The Facts of Life star said she needed time to think about undergoing bone cancer treatment before starting such a regime. Rae said the side effects of chemotherapy treatment were “not too bad” when she had it in the past for pancreatic cancer.
“I’ve had a wonderful one [life] already. I have this decision to make,” the 1980s television star continued. “I’d like to choose life. I’m grateful for the life I’ve already had. I think I’m going to go for it.”
Two years ago Rae released her memoir, The Facts of My Life. The book details her journey to stardom and delves deeply into how she maintained her sobriety for almost 44 years. The memoir also shares insight into how Charlotte found out her beloved husband, John Strauss, was bisexual. The lengthy book discusses how she mourned and then coped with the death of her oldest son Andrew, who suffered from both dementia and autism.
Charlotte Rae said alcohol became her drug of choice when she needed help sleeping at night during the early 1970s. At the time she was performing on Sesame Street, playing “Molly the Mail Lady.” Rae said she needed help getting to bed so she could be up early five days a week to appear on the popular children’s show.
Even though her life has been filled with obstacles, Charlotte Rae said she still has an enormous amount of both positivity and hope. The Facts of Life star said, at her age, every single day is like a birthday.
“I want to tell everybody to celebrate every day, to savor the day and be good to yourself, love yourself, and then you can be good to others and be of service to others,” Rae added.
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) April 28, 2017
Facts of Life aired on NBC from the fall of 1979 to the spring of 1988. It was one of the longest-running sitcoms to appear on television during the 1980s. Charlotte Rae’s Mrs. Garrett was the housemother at the Eastland School. The fictional all-girls boarding school was set in Peekskill, New York.
The pilot episode of Facts of Life was officially called “The Girls” but was also known as “Garrett’s Girls.” In the series premiere, which aired right after Different Strokes, the Kimberly Drummond character played by Dana Plato asked her housekeeper to help sew some costumes for a school play because the housemother at her dorm just quit. Mrs. Garrett does a great job and is asked to assume the housemother position at the school.
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