Actress Charlotte Rae, most famous for her role as Mrs. Garrett on the hit TV series The Facts of Life, died on Sunday, August 5, 2018. Her son Larry Strauss said that she passed away peacefully in her home near Los Angeles at 4:30 p.m., surrounded by her family. No cause of death has been given, but Rae had revealed that she had bone cancer in 2017. She was 92 years old.


Rae began her entertainment career as a lounge singer and comedian before she started appearing on TV in the 1950s. She was nominated for an Emmy award in 1975 for her roles in the TV drama Queen of the Stardust Ballroom, but it wasn’t until 1978 that she shot to stardom. Rae starred as housekeeper Edna Garrett on the sitcom Diff’rent Strokes and became so popular that NBC created a new spin-off series for her, The Facts of Life, in 1979. Mrs. Garrett became one of the most iconic characters in popular culture and the series ran until 1988. Rae’s former co-stars from both series took to Twitter and Instagram to memorialize her.

Todd Bridges, of Diff’rent Strokes, tweeted that the show “would not have been the same” without Rae and that “My heart is full of Pain.”

Kim Fields, her co-star on The Facts of Life, tweeted that she had no words yet, “just love and tears… and yeah, smiles.”

Mindy Cohn and Lisa Whelchel, two more Facts of Life alums, also posted about their former co-star, mentor and friend.


In an interview in 1982, Rae said of her character, Mrs. Garrett, “I want to bring in as much humanity as possible, as well as the humor. I’ve tried to make her a human being with dimensions. … I don’t want her to be Polly Perfect, because she must have human failings and make mistakes.”  Rae’s genuine portrayal of Mrs. Garrett made her beloved by American audiences and earned her another Emmy nomination in 1982. Rae was also nominated for two Tony awards in the 60s and continued to appear on film until 2018.

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