Charlotte Rae, best known for her role as Mrs. Garrett on both Diff’rent Strokes and its spinoff The Facts of Life, has died at the age of 92. Rae was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer seven years ago, and in April 2017, she revealed that she had bone cancer.
Rae’s first major TV role came when she was cast in the recurring role of Sylvia Schnauser on Car 54, Where Are You? back in 1962. She later appeared in episodes of All in the Family, Barney Miller, Good Times, The Partridge Family, The Defenders, Sesame Street and Love, American Style. She also had a starring role on the short-lived sitcom Hot L Baltimore.
In 1978, Rae was cast as Diff’rent Strokes housekeeper Edna Garrett, a role which would go on to define her career. The character got her own spinoff, The Facts of Life, in 1979, which found Mrs. Garrett serving as house mother at a girls’ boarding school. She earned an Emmy nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy Series in 1982.
Rae departed The Facts of Life after Season 7, at which point Cloris Leachman stepped in as Mrs. Garrett’s sister, Beverly Ann, for the last two seasons. Rae eventually reprised her role as Mrs. Garrett in the 2001 TV-movie The Facts of Life Reunion. The cast reunited once more at the 2011 TV Land Awards.
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Rae continued to work frequently later in life, guest-starring in select episodes of Sisters, ER, The King of Queens and Pretty Little Liars. Her last TV credit was a 2015 episode of Girl Meets World.
Earlier this week, it was reported that Sony Pictures Television is in the very early stages of developing a Facts of Life reboot.
EW.com first reported the news of Rae’s death.
Mindy Cohn, Kim Fields and Lisa Whelchel were among the former cast and peers to react to Rae’s passing:
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it’s with a heavy heart & lots of tears (but a smile as i think of her) that I now move through the world without this incredible force of a woman being in it. she was my champion, a teacher, a proud example of the tenacity and perseverance needed to live an actor’s life. i love you char. i will continue to make you proud. and, as I send sympathies to larry and the rest of the family, I wish you the happiest of homecomings. #ripcharlotterae 💔 #ohwhatalife #mwah #tilwemeetagain #thankyou