If you’re a child of the 80s, then the piece of you who wanted Mrs. Garrett to raise you just broke off, turned to dust and was carried away by the night wind. Because Entertainment Weekly confirms that the human spoonful of ginger sugar named Charlotte Rae died today at her home in Los Angeles. Her cause of death wasn’t released, but she was diagnosed with bone cancer in April of 2017 after battling pancreatic cancer in 2010. She was 92. When it comes to that phrase, “you take the good, you take the bad,” Charlotte Rae dying is definitely bad and I don’t want to take it.
Like many legends, Charlotte started her acting career in the THI-TURR, darling! She was nominated for two Tonys: one for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Pickwick and another for Best Actress in a Play for Morning, Noon and Night. Charlotte got into the TV game in the mid-1950s and guest-starred on a million shows including Barney Miller, The Partridge Family, Good Times, and All in the Family. I’m also not going to forget that she was in the Hair movie And in her 50s, she became a national treasure and bona fide TV star in 1978 when she was cast as the warm dollop of maternal gingerness that is Mrs. Garrett in Diff’rent Strokes. Charlotte played Edna Garrett for two seasons. Mrs. Garrett was easily my favorite character on Diff’rent Strokes, and many people agreed, because she became a breakout star. Charlotte came up with the idea to spin her character off and that’s how Facts of Life came to be.
Charlotte played the house mother of Blair Warner, Tootie and the others for seven seasons starting in 1979. She left the show due to health reasons and Cloris Leachman replaced her. Because Facts of Life can obviously not go on without Mrs. Garrett, the show ended two seasons later. She got an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 1982. I’m also assuming that the planned Facts of Life reboot is going to be thrown into the dumpster now that it’s not possible for Charlotte Rae to be in it!
Charlotte Rae kept on, kept on and continued to work up until a few years ago. She guest starred on Pretty Little Liars, ER, Sisters, 227, Murder, She Wrote, and St. Elsewhere. She also did the Facts of Life reunion movie in 2001.
She had two sons with composer John Strauss, who Wikipedia tells me came out as bi-sexual in the mid-70s. Charlotte and John divorced in 1976.
Rest in peace, Charlotte Rae. You are now in heaven where you are filling the angels ears with flawless advice and side-eyeing them whenever they come home after curfew.
And let’s also not forget that Charlotte yodeled her tonsils off as a punk rock memaw of perfection in The Worst Witch.