Kim Fields channeled her inner Tootie on Dancing with the Stars. The actress and Real Housewives of Atlanta star returned to her sitcom roots for her Most Memorable Year dance, which paid tribute to her classic ’80s sitcom, The Facts of Life. And Kim was even joined by an iconic Facts of Life star, who cheered her on from the audience.
To preface her dance, Kim Fields told a story of her bus trip from Harlem to Hollywood in 1976 when she was just 7 years old. That’s when she landed a life-changing acting role in a Mrs. Butterworth maple syrup commercial. Kim even beat out Janet Jackson for the role! The syrup ad led to Fields’ roles on Good Times and then NBC’s The Facts of Life.
Ahead of her dance, Kim told People that she knew the idea of a Facts of Life foxtrot would be unconventional, but she considered the dance to be “a big thank you note to the fans.”
“The idea of foxtrotting to the Facts of Life theme song sounds like complete oil and water and yet it works incredibly well. [Pro partner] Sasha [Farber] is an incredible choreographer and visionary and he’s doing everything he can to make sure I’m connecting with what my story is and revisiting my childhood.”
While it wasn’t a total surprise to see Kim Fields don a bedazzled Eastland School uniform for her Facts of Life tribute, fans were surprised to see her former co-star, Charlotte Rae, in the audience. The 89-year-old Rae, who played housemother Edna Garrett on the classic sitcom, reflected on working with a pint-sized Kim Fields when she was a child star on the classic sitcom.
“She was so young and so short, so they put her on roller skates so that she could fit into the picture with all of us. Of course, today, I’m the shortest. I’m now 4’7″. But I’m still above ground!”
Rae also had an interesting description of a young Kim Fields.
“As we rehearsed and got to know each other, I realized she was full of piss and vinegar, you know what I mean?”
Eagle-eyed viewers (and diehard Facts fans) may have noticed another Facts of Life alum in the audience. Actress Julie Piekarski, who played Eastland alum Sue Ann Weaver on early seasons of The Facts of Life, turned up to cheer on her lifelong pal Kim Fields.
Kim Fields’ return as Tootie earned her plenty of praise from the Dancing With the Stars judges and a respectable 22 points. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba even marveled over the fact that Fields looks exactly the same as she did when she played Tootie on TV more than 35 years ago.
The DWTS ballroom is not the first time Kim has reunited with her beloved Mrs. Garrett— er, co-star Charlotte Rae —this year. In February, Fields and Rae were part of a Facts of Life reunion on Hallmark Channel’s lifestyle show Home & Family. The actresses reunited with former co-star Lisa Whelchel to talk about their iconic 1970-1988 NBC sitcom.
In addition, Mindy Cohn (Natalie on the series) appeared via a video message, as did — wait for it! — George Clooney, who played dimwitted handyman George on the show, and Molly Ringwald, who got her start playing an Eastland School classmate on the first season of the sitcom in 1979. In a separate segment, Kim Fields joined Ken Wingard to make bedazzled roller skates in honor of her Facts of Life character.
Kim Fields may have moved on to reality TV with her stint on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, but her Tootie character lives on—at least through dance.
Take a look at the video below to see Kim Fields and Sasha Farber’s foxtrot to The Facts of Life theme song.
[Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images]