Actress Charlotte Rae — who played Mrs. Garrett on “The Facts of Life” and “Diff’rent Strokes” — died Sunday at her home in Los Angeles, according to her publicist.
The Emmy-nominated television star was 92. Her death was confirmed by Fox News.
Loved ones were reportedly at Rae’s side when she passed away on Sunday. The actress had been diagnosed with bone cancer in April 2017, and pancreatic cancer about seven years earlier.
“At 91, every day is a birthday,” Rae said in a statement after revealing her most recent diagnosis.
“I’m feeling so terrific and so glad to be above ground,” she explained. “Now I have to figure out whether I want to go have treatment again or opt for 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.”
Born Charlotte Rae Lubotsky, the actress grew up in Milwaukee and later attended Northwestern University — studying alongside a slew of acting greats, such as Charlton Heston and Paul Lynde.
She began her career in radio and theater before branching out to television in the 1950s.
Rae appeared in a number of hit shows, including “The Partridge Family” and “The Defenders,” before landing her most popular role in 1978.
As Edna Garrett, the witty housekeeper from “Diff’rent Strokes,” Rae managed to steal the hearts of millions — so much, in fact, that she later earned her own spinoff.
“The Facts of Life” debuted in 1979 and centered around Mrs. Garrett’s relationship with a group of girls she met in the season 1 finale of “Diff’rent Strokes.” The series went on to become one of TV’s longest-running sitcoms, even outlasting its predecessor by two years.
“I grew up watching Charlotte Rae teach us the facts of life,” wrote one Twitter user.
“In my mind probably one of the best mentors on a tv show to their fellow tv characters,” another said.
While Rae was best known for her work on the small screen, she also managed to score two Tony noms for parts she played on Broadway. The actress got recognized for the 1966 musical “Pickwick” and 1969 play “Morning, Noon and Night.”
Rae continued to work late into her career, earning roles on hit television shows like “ER,” “The King of Queens,” and “Murder, She Wrote.” She also appeared in movies, including “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan” with Adam Sandler and “Ricki and the Flash” with Meryl Streep.
Some of her former co-stars took to Twitter on Sunday night to pay their respects.
“You all already know my heart is heavy yet,” tweeted actress Kim Fields, who played Dorothy “Tootie” Ramsey on Facts of Life.
“Sorry, no words at the moment just love and tears… and yeah, smiles.”
Mindy Cohn, who played Natalie Green on Facts of Life, said: “[Rae] was my champion, a teacher, a proud example of the tenacity and perseverance needed to live as a creative, along with your talent and gifts…I wish you the happiest of homecomings.”
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