Charlotte Rae Dies; Facts of Life Star Was 92
Charlotte Rae, the star of two classic and beloved sitcoms, died Sunday at her home in Los Angeles.
She was 92 years old.
The veteran actress revealed in April of 2017 that she had been diagnosed with bone cancer, telling People Magazine at the time:
“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.”
She added at the time:
“Nobody ever knew. So now, at the age of 91, I have to make up my mind. I’m not in any pain right now. I’m feeling so terrific and so glad to be above ground.
“Now I have to figure out whether I want to go have treatment again or opt for life.”
Rae rose to television fame as Mrs. Garrett (affectionately known as “Mrs. G”) on Diff’rent Strokes, the wise and kind house keeper for Mr. Drummond.
She then played this same role on Facts of Life, which ran from 1979 through 1988.
There’s actually be talk of late of revising this series, which focuses on Mrs. Garrett serving as the caretaker for quartet of students at Eastland School for Young Women.
Rae was born in Milwaukee and got her start in the entertainment industry via the theater and radio.
She first starred on the small screen as Sylvia Schnauser, the wife of Al Lewis’ Officer Leo Schnauser on Car 54, Where Are You?.
Despite her two Tony Award nominations and single Emmy Award nominations, it wasn’t until legendary producer Norman Lear cast Rae in Diff’rent Strokes that her career took off.
Rae proceeded to o guest star on programs such as ER, Pretty Little Liars, Sisters, and The King of Queens, while appearing in films such as Don’t Mess with the Zohan and Tom and Jerry: The Movie.
Her final regular gig was voicing “Nanny” in the animated 101 Dalmations: The Series, which aired from 1997-98.
In 2011, The Facts of Life cast reunited for the TV Land Awards, where Rae took home the Pop Icon award.
In 2015, Rae released a memoir titled The Facts of My Life, which documented her 44 years of sobriety, along with the discovery that that her husband, John Strauss, was bisexual.
Tweeted Todd Bridges, who starred on Diff’rent Strokes as Willis, one of the two kids Mrs. G helped raise:
Different Strokes would not have been the same without you #CharlotteRae. You were loved by everyone on our show and you were loved by everyone on the facts of life will miss you “My heart is full of Pain” Rest in peace my friend.
He added the following as a tribute:
“I love life. I’ve had a wonderful one already,” said Rae 18 months ago after confirming her second cancer diagnosis.
“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.”
This amazing life has now come to an end.
May Charlotte Rae rest in peace.