Monday, April 22, 2024

“Facts of Life” TV Star Charlotte Rae, Two Time Tony Nominee, Dies at 92 After Announcement of “Facts” Reboot


No kidding. This morning NBC announced it was going to reboot the terrible 80s sitcom “The Facts of Life.” The news has apparently killed actress Charlotte Rae, 92, star of the hit back in the day.

Seriously, what a weird juxtaposition. Before she got started playing Edna Garrett on a bunch of different NBC shows in the 80s, Charlotte Rae was a widely respected character actress. In the 1960s she was nominated for a Tony as Best Actress in a Musical and in a Play. She was also nominated for an Emmy in the famous TV movie, “Queen of the Stardust Ballroom” with Maureen Stapleton and Charles Durning.

Rae was also nominated once for playing Mrs. Garrett, probably because of the goodwill she’d engendered in show business. It was not a great role or a good show, but Rae made the best of it. She’d been a constant on the small screen since the 50s, starting with “Car 54 Where Are You?” Charlotte Rae was funny and likeable, and you knew behind the screwball stuff she was delivering there was a real comedy intellect.

Her last role was in Jonathan Demme’s “Ricki and the Flash,” a movie I quite liked, with Meryl Streep. A lot of people had forgotten she was still around, but she still had “it.”She published a very readable memoir that year called “The Facts of My Life.” She says of the late child actor Gary Coleman, “his parents worked him like crazy.” In her younger days she was great pals with Cloris Leachman– they were roommates in New York– and Charlotte also talks about the Black List.

A great life, a great career– and a sentimental goodbye to Charlotte Rae!

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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