Charlotte Rae, iconic as Mrs. Garrett on "Diff'rent Strokes" and its spin-off "The Facts of Life," has died at 92, THR confirms.
In 2017, Rae released a statement regarding a bone cancer diagnosis. “Last Monday, I found out I have bone cancer,” she told fans. "About seven years ago, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer — which is a miracle that they found it because usually, it’s too late. My mother, sister, and my uncle died of pancreatic cancer. After six months of chemotherapy, I was cancer-free. I lost my hair, but I had beautiful wigs. Nobody ever knew."
She went on to say, "So now, at the age of 91, I have to make up my mind. I’m not in any pain right now. I’m feeling so terrific and so glad to be above ground. Now I have to figure out whether I want to go have treatment again or opt for life. I love 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.”
During her long career, Rae had a recurring role on "Car 54, Where Are You?" (1961-1963), was Molly the Mail Lady on "Sesame Street" (1971-1972), played the mother of Woody Allen's character in "Bananas" (1971), had a memorable scene in the film version of "Hair" (1979), appeared on the racy series "Hot L Baltimore" (a rare failure for producer Norman Lear that aired in 1975), and made numerous episodic TV appearances.
It was her role as wise but whimsical Mrs. Garrett, which lasted from 1979 to 1986, that endeared her to a generation of TV fans. She revisited it in the TV movie "The Facts of Life Reunion" (2001).
It was just announced this week that a reboot of "The Facts of Life" is in the works.
As successful as she was on TV, Rae was also an accomplished stage actress, creating the role of Mammy Yokum in "Li'l Abner" (1956) and nabbing Tony nominations for "Pickwick" (1965) and "Morning, Noon and Night" (1968).
Rae gave her final TV performance on "Girl Meets World" in 2015 and appeared in her final movie, the Meryl Streep vehicle "Ricki and the Flash," a year later.
In 2015, Rae published the well-reviewed memoir "The Facts of My Life," which shed light on her marital issues with composer John Strauss, who she divorced in 1976, and her stuggles with alcohol.
She is survived by two sons.