Home > News & Advice > News Obituaries > Charlotte Rae (1926 – 2018), “The Facts of Life” star…

Charlotte Rae (1926 – 2018), “The Facts of Life” star…

by Kirk Fox

Played Edna Garrett on the popular sitcom…

Actress Charlotte Rae, known best for her roles on the sitcoms “Diff’rent Strokes” and “The Facts of Life,” died Sunday August 5, 2018, at the age of 92. Her publicist, Harlan Boll, reported her passing. No cause of death was given.

Rae’s signature character, housekeeper Edna Garrett, got her start in 1978 on the Norman Lear sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes,” specifically because Lear had loved her previous work. Rae stayed with the hit sitcom for its first season and part of its second – but she was as much a hit as the show’s other characters, so she was tapped for a spinoff. “The Facts of Life” debuted in 1979, starring Rae as housemother at the Eastland School for girls. Rae helped make the show a ratings powerhouse throughout her seven seasons as its star. Though she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in 1982, she never won for her longtime role.


Born April 22, 1926, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Rae was a singer as well as an actress on both stage and screen. She performed in stage musicals such as “The Threepenny Opera” and “Li’l Abner,” and in 1955, she released a solo album, “Songs I Taught My Mother.” She was nominated for Tony awards for her performances in “Pickwick” and “Morning, Noon and Night.”

See Charlotte Rae and other 1980’s Sitcom Stars in our Gallery.

Rae’s other television shows included “Car 54, Where Are You?” and “Hot L Baltimore,” as well as early seasons on “Sesame Street,” playing Molly the Mail Lady. In later years, she guest-starred on many shows, including “The King of Queens,” “ER,” “Pretty Little Liars” and “Girl Meets World.” Rae also appeared in several movies, among them “Hair,” “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan” and “Ricki and the Flash.”

Many of her castmates on “Diff’rent Strokes” and “The Facts of Life” paid tribute to Charlotte Rae on social media.

Actor Todd Bridges, who played Willis on “Diff’rent Strokes”: “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.”

Mindy Cohn, who played Natalie on “The Facts of Life,” paid tribute on Instagram: “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.”

Kim Fields, who played Tootie on “The Facts of Life” said, “You all already know my heart is heavy yet…. sorry, no words at the moment just love and tears… and yeah, smiles.”

We invite you to sign the Guest Book for Charlotte Rae.


More Stories