After heart-breaking news emerged last week that ’80s television star Charlotte Rae has been diagnosed with bone cancer, we got to wondering what happened to the cast of The Facts of Life.
Set in Peekskill, New York, The Facts of Life was a spin-off of Diff’rent Strokes. The series followed Edna Garrett as she left her job as the Drummonds’ housekeeper to become the housemother at a private school for girls. Premiering in 1979, the show ran for nine seasons on NBC.
Charlotte Rae (Edna Garrett)
While the Emmy nominee is best known for the role of Mrs. Garrett, Rae was an accomplished Broadway actress before she joined Diff’rent Strokes. She earned two Tony award nominations in the 1960s. Rae left The Facts of Life after the show’s seventh season. Following her departure, Rae guest-starred in several television shows, including Murder, She Wrote, Sisters, Diagnosis: Murder, and ER. She also appeared the films You Don’t Mess with the Zohan and Ricki and the Flash.
As mentioned above, Rae revealed last week that she has been diagnosed with bone cancer. The 91-year-old also admitted that she had previously battled pancreatic cancer.
Charlotte Rae: ‘Facts Of Life’ Star Has Bone Cancer, TV’s ‘Mrs. Garrett’ Is 91 https://t.co/jnxqg5vC5z
— Gina Lawriw (@GinaLawriw) April 29, 2017
Speaking to People, the beloved television star expressed her gratitude for the life she’s had while remaining positive about her future.
“At 91, every day is a birthday. [In my book] 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 released her biography in 2015, which was co-written with her son, Larry.
Lisa Whelchel (Blair Warner)
Prior to joining The Facts of Life, Whelchel appeared on The New Mickey Mouse Club. During down time from the set, Whelchel would tape guest appearances on other shows and released a Christian album. Once the show wrapped, the newlywed took a break from acting to focus on Christian ministries. In 2000, the Grammy nominee released her first book, Creative Correction, and would eventually author over a dozen books, including her Busy Mom series. Focused on her faith, Whelchel became an international speaker.
Shortly after her 2012 divorce, Whelchel made a return to the entertainment industry when she joined the 25th season of Survivor. She tied for second place and won the fan favorite award, which included a $100,000 prize. In an interview with Today, Whelchel admitted that she joined Survivor for the financial aspect.
“That paid for me to move out to California after my divorce. I’m forever grateful to my fans for that.”
After Survivor, Whelchel appeared in 2013’s A Madea Christmas and a few Hallmark TV films. Still a sought-after Christian speaker, Whelchel has several speaking stops scheduled across the country this year.
— The Facts of life (@factsoflife1979) April 12, 2017
Kim Fields (Tootie Ramsey)
Before joining The Facts of Life, Fields starred in Baby, I’m Back and appeared in Good Times. She also had a role in the powerful mini-series, Roots. After The Facts of Life went off the air, Fields focused on education. After graduating from Pepperdine University in 1993, the actress returned to television as Regine Hunter in the hit show Living Single. After the show ended, Fields continued to make guest appearances in several television shows, including Miss Match, The Comeback, and The Division. In addition to her acting, Fields had directed multiple television shows.
In 2015, Fields joined the cast of The Real Housewives of Atlanta for one season. Many fans felt that Fields’ low-drama life and disinterest in mud-slinging made her too classy for the show.
— sean johnson (@seanjoh72292671) April 10, 2017
She will next appear in the film, A Question of Faith.
Mindy Cohn (Natalie Green)
Cohn had no previous acting experience before joining The Facts of Life. In fact, Cohn was discovered by Rae, who was doing research for the show at Mindy’s school. After the show ended, Cohn appeared in several television shows, including 21 Jump Street, The Second Half, Bones, and Hot in Cleveland. She also had a recurring role on The Secret Life of the American Teenager.
While the younger generation might not recognize Cohn’s face, they would certainly recognize her voice. Since 2002, Cohn has voiced the character of Velma Dinkley in the various Scooby Doo television shows and direct-to-video film series.
— Alestokies2 ???? (@AleStokieS2) April 24, 2017
Nancy McKeon (Jo Polniaczek)
Prior to joining The Facts of Life, McKeon, along with her brother, Alice star Philip McKeon, had appeared in several commercials. McKeon was added to the cast during the show’s second season. After the show ended, McKeon appeared in several television shows and made-for-television films. Nancy starred in Lifetime’s The Division and Disney’s Sonny with a Chance. McKeon almost had another famous role. She was a finalist for the part of Monica Green on Friends.
McKeon currently lives with her husband and two children in Austin, Texas.
Cloris Leachman (Beverly Ann Stickle)
Leachman was added to the cast after Rae’s departure. Leachman already had a long and storied career prior to her arrival on the show. The former Miss America contestant appeared on Broadway and had already earned an Oscar and five Emmy awards before she moved into the role of Beverly Ann Stickle. After the show ended, Leachman had recurring roles on The Ellen Show, Touched by an Angel, Malcolm in the Middle, and Raising Hope. At the age of 82, she became the oldest person to ever compete on Dancing with the Stars.
Happy 91st Birthday to the Oscar and NINE-time Emmy winning legend, Cloris Leachman! pic.twitter.com/eIjk2T0WLW
— AwardsWatch (@awards_watch) April 30, 2017
Now 91, the actress shows no signs of slowing down. She continues to appear in television specials and has several films in post-production. Her new series, American Gods, is currently on Starz.
Who was your favorite cast member from The Facts of Life? Did you know that The Facts of Life was one of George Clooney’s earliest roles?
[Featured Image by Larry Busacca/Getty Images]