(NEW YORK) — Actress Charlotte Rae, best known as wise and lovable house mother Mrs. Garrett on The Facts of Life, died Sunday at her home in Los Angeles, She was 92.
Rae’s publicist, B. Harlan Boll, confirmed her death to ABC News. A cause of death wasn’t provided but the actress revealed in spring 2017 that she’d been diagnosed with bone cancer.
Rae, born Charlotte Rae Lubotsky in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, got her start in theater and radio before landing a role as Sylvia Schnauser, the wife of Al Lewis’ Leo Schnauser, in the 1960s sitcom Car 54, Where Are You? However, her breakout role came came in 1978, when Norman Lear cast her as kooky housekeeper Edna Garrett in the NBC series Diff’rent Strokes, opposite Conrad Bain, Todd Bridges and Gary Coleman.
A year later, Rae earned a starring role in the Diff’rent Strokes spin-off, The Facts of Life, playing a house mother to students at the all-female Eastland School in New York. The series, co-starring Lisa Whelchel, Kim Fields, Mindy Cohn and Nancy McKeon, ran for nine seasons and spawned three TV movies, the most recent in 2001. It also earned Rae an Emmy nomination in 1982.
Rae’s later TV appearances included guest spots in shows like ER, Pretty Little Liars, Sisters, and The King of Queens, and films including the Adam Sandler comedy Don’t Mess with the Zohan.
Memorial arrangements are pending, Rae’s publicist said. In lieu of flowers, Rae’s family is asking that donations be made to The Actors Fund, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, or the Clare Foundation.
Several of Rae’s former cast mates expressed their condolences on social media:
Kim Fields: “You all already know my heart is heavy yet…. sorry, no words at the moment just love and tears… and yeah, smiles….”
Mindy Cohn: “It’s with a heavy heart and tears (but a smile as i think of her lil’ bod and hear her voice) that I now move through the world without this incredible force of a woman being it. she was my champion, a teacher, a proud example of the tenacity and perseverance needed to live as a creative, along with your talent and gifts. i love you char.”
Todd Bridges: “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.”
The news of Rae’s death comes as Sony TV is in early talks to reboot The Facts of Life with a new cast. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jessica Biel are reportedly in talks to executive-produce the series.
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