Charlotte Rae, from ‘Facts of Life’ and ‘Diff’rent Strokes,’ Dies at 92

She was known as wise and lovable house mother Mrs. Garrett.

charlotte rae
THE FACTS OF LIFE -- "E.G.O.C. (Edna Garrett on Campus)" Episode 8 -- Pictured: (l-r) Lisa Whelchel as Blair Warner, Nancy McKeon as Joanne 'Jo' Polniaczek, Charlotte Rae as Edna Garrett -- Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
NBC via Getty Images

Actress Charlotte Rae, best known as lovable house mother Mrs. Garrett on The Facts of Life, died Sunday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 92. Rae had announced in April 2017 that she had been diagnosed with bone cancer.

“Last Monday, I found out I have bone cancer,” Rae said in a statement at the time, according to Entertainment Weekly. “About seven years ago, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer — which is a miracle that they found it because usually, it’s too late. My mother, sister, and my uncle died of pancreatic cancer. After six months of chemotherapy, I was cancer-free. I lost my hair, but I had beautiful wigs. Nobody ever knew. So now, at the age of 91, I have to make up my mind. I’m not in any pain right now. I’m feeling so terrific and so glad to be above ground. Now I have to figure out whether I want to go have treatment again or opt for life.”

She continued, “I love life. I’ve had a wonderful one already … I’ve had a great life, but I have so many wonderful things happening. I’d like to choose life. I’m grateful for the life I’ve already had.”

Rae got her start doing radio and theater, and broke into television playing Sylvia Schnauser, the wife of Al Lewis’ Officer Leo Schnauser on Car 54, Where Are You? She earned Tony nominations for PickwickMorning Noon and Night, as well as an an Emmy nomination for Queen of the Stardust Ballroom. But in 1978 she was cast as the housekeeper in Diff’rent Strokes by Norman Lear, a longtime fan, and her career took off. Rae eventually proposed a spin-off centering around her breakout character, Edna Garrett — the show that became The Facts of Life. 

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