Charlotte Rae, 'Facts of Life' and 'Diff'rent Strokes' actress, dead at 92 — co-stars pay tribute

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Charlotte Rae, the actress who played housekeeper-turned-den-mother Mrs. Garrett on both Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life, has died. She was 92.

As CNN reports, the sitcom star’s son, Larry Strauss, has confirmed that she died at her Los Angeles home on Aug. 5. Though a cause of death has not yet been disclosed, Rae revealed in 2017 that she had been diagnosed with bone cancer.

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“At 91, every day is a birthday,” the actress, who had already survived pancreatic cancer, told People. “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 starred opposite Gary Coleman on <i>Diff’rent Strokes</i>. (Photo: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Rae starred opposite Gary Coleman on Diff’rent Strokes. (Photo: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Rae originated the role of doting Drummond family housekeeper Edna Garrett in 1978 with Diff’rent Strokes. Her character’s popularity resulted in her being the link to a spinoff, The Facts of Life, which saw Mrs. Garrett moving on to be the housemother and dietitian for a fictional all-girls school. Rae starred on the popular show from 1979 to 1986, ultimately opting to leave and introduce actress and real-life former Northwestern classmate Cloris Leachman as Mrs. Garrett’s sister and replacement.

Rae reunited last year with Mindy Cohn, who played Natalie on <i>The Facts of Life</i>. (Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images)
Rae reunited last year with Mindy Cohn, who played Natalie on The Facts of Life. (Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images)

Rae, who resurfaced in 2001’s The Facts of Life Reunion, was also an Emmy-nominated performer thanks to 1975’s Queen of the Stardust Ballroom. Her acting credits spanned theater, film, and TV, and included appearances in Car 54, Where Are You?, All in the Family, Sesame Street, and, more recently, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, Pretty Little Liars, and Girl Meets World.

Charlotte Rae’s Mrs. Garrett (center) launched the <i>Facts of Life</i> spinoff, starring Nancy McKeon, Mindy Cohn, Lisa Whelchel, and Kim Fields. (Photo: Frank Carroll/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Charlotte Rae’s Mrs. Garrett (center) launched the Facts of Life spinoff, starring Nancy McKeon, Mindy Cohn, Lisa Whelchel, and Kim Fields. (Photo: Frank Carroll/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Born Charlotte Rae Lubotsky to Russian Jewish immigrants, the actress was married once, to Grammy-winning composer John Strauss. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1976 after Strauss revealed that he was bisexual. They had two sons, Larry and Andrew.

Tributes have already poured in for Rae, including messages from former co-stars like The Facts of Life‘s Kim Fields and Mindy Cohn and Diff’rent StrokesTodd Bridges. Bridges’s poignant post noted that he is the last surviving cast member of the popular ’70s and ’80s sitcom, following the deaths of Dana Plato, Conrad Bain, Gary Coleman, and now Rae.










Rae’s death comes on the heels of reports that Leonardo DiCaprio and Jessica Biel are looking to produce a reboot of The Facts of Life.

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