Charlotte Rae, the actor who portrayed Mrs. Garrett on Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life, has died. She was 92 years old.
Entertainment Weekly reports that Rae died on Sunday at her Los Angeles home. Though the official cause of death is unclear, she had been diagnosed with bone cancer in April 2017 and chose not to seek treatment. “I love life. I’ve had a wonderful one already,” she said in a statement at the time. “I’m grateful for the life I’ve already had.”
Rae, who was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1926, moved to New York City in 1948 and got her start as a stage actress, performing in productions like Threepenny Opera and Pickwick. In 1954, she was cast in an episode of the television program Look Up and Live, and started picking up parts on shows like Car 54, Where Are You?, Love Boat, and The Partridge Family. In 1978, she was cast as housekeeper Edna Garrett on the Norman Lear sitcom Diff’rent Strokes, about two young black boys from Harlem (Todd Bridges, Gary Coleman) who move into a Park Avenue penthouse owned by a rich businessman (Conrad Bain) and his daughter (Dana Plato). The show was a huge success, and after the first season, Rae’s character was spun off onto her own show, The Facts of Life, in which Garrett became a housemother at a girls’ school in New York.
Rae left The Facts of Life, which also became a big hit, after its eighth season. She most recently had bit parts on shows like ER, Pretty Little Liars, and Girl Meets World, and was in films like Ricki and the Flash and You Don’t Mess With the Zohan. She also wrote a memoir, The Facts of My Life, which was published in 2015.