Saturday, April 10, 2021

Kim Fields, Todd Bridges Remember Late Co-Star Charlotte Rae

Charlotte Rae and Kim Fields in NBC's "The Facts of Life"
Charlotte Rae and Kim Fields in NBC’s “The Facts of Life”

*Charlotte Rae, the actress best known as the matriarch of the NBC boarding school sitcom “The Facts of Life,” was remembered by former co-stars and colleagues following her death on Sunday afternoon at her Los Angeles home. She disclosed last year that she was battling bone cancer.

Former “Facts of Life” co-stars Kim Fields and Mindy Cohn expressed their grief on Twitter.

The Tony and Emmy nominated Rae starred as boarding school headmistress Edna Garrett on the NBC sitcom  for nearly 10 years. The show, itself, was a spinoff of “Diff’rent Strokes,” where her character recurred for one season opposite stars Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges.

“Different Strokes would not have been the same without you,” Bridges tweeted Monday. “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.”

Rae gained fame on TV but she made her name during the 1950s starring in such productions as “The Threepenny Opera” and “Li’l Abner.” In the early 1960s, she created the role of Sylvia Schnauzer on TV series “Car 54 Where Are You?” She was Tony-nominated in 1966 for her work in the musical “Pickwick” and in 1969 for the play “Morning, Noon, and Night.”

Broadway star Audra McDonald called Rae “funny, wise, lovely, and brilliant.”

Rae’s other television work included a year on “Sesame Street,” and a recurring role on “Hot L Baltimore.”

She married composer John Strauss in 1951, and the couple had two sons, Larry and Andrew. As she wrote in her 2015 memoir, “The Facts of My Life,” co-written with her son Larry, she struggled with alcoholism when her husband came out as bisexual and revealed he had been cheating on her with other men. The couple divorced in 1976 but remained friends, and she supported him through his long battle with Parkinson’s disease, which ended with his death in 2011.

Rae also wrote about the grief of losing her son Andy, who had autism and epilepsy and died of a heart attack in his mid-40s.

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