The Facts of Life is a spin-off of the popular sitcom Diff’rent Strokes that first aired in 1979. However, the series can carve its identity and make a reputation as one of the best future stories ever told. This post will discuss The Facts of Life cast then and now, more than 30 years later.
NBC has been the TV network with so many sitcoms for years. But we were introduced to Friends and The Office a long time before, and watching Mrs. Garrett and her girl’s trials and tribulations became one of our favorite consolations.
This popular series took place at a private boarding school, Eastland Academy, from 1981 to 1984. It brought us to a string of various characters who grew up in front of our eyes. Mrs. Garrett’s students were incredible young women alone, whose struggles felt accurate and dependable.
Let’s check it out and see what the cast of The Facts of Life has been up to in the thirty years since the series ended.
George Clooney as George Burnett
Before breaking through to become one of Hollywood’s top stars, George Clooney was simply another aspiring actor. He discovered what he was looking for on The Facts of Life set, where he was cast as Mrs. Garrett’s handyman George Burnett.
After her store (Edna’s Edibles) burned down, he assisted her in rebuilding it. Ultimately, he finally left his position to work as a roadie for Cinnamon, a budding singer.
George Clooney – Now
Clooney took a long rest after this series ended and earned the trust of a TV network to play one of the lead roles in the medical drama ER. This medical drama ER makes him known as an excellent TV star.
However, he wants to be more than TV stardom. He became one of the most all-rounded Hollywood actors that constantly switched roles between big blockbusters and political thriller dramas, such as Syriana, which brought Clooney an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He’s a successful screenwriter, director, and Oscar-winning producer as well.
Charlotte Rae as Edna Garret
Charlotte Rae has entered the acting scene since the early 1950s. But her role in this excellent situation comedy highlights her career. She did such a fantastic job as Edna Garrett while acting out on Diff’rent Strokes that the NBC bosses assured her of rewarding her with her series!
As this series was born, Charlotte Rae starred as Edna Garrett, the balmy but sweet housewife for almost ten years. Edna Garrett accompanied the girls at Eastland boarding school through every remarkable moment of their lives and also taught the girls many precious lessons they appreciate forever.
Charlotte Rae – Today
Charlotte Rae, that acted as the thoughtful and lovely Mrs. Garret, took her last breath in August 2018 after struggling against bone cancer. Mrs. Rae’s previous role was in a musical comedy, Ricki and the Flash, in 2015.
Cloris Leachman as Beverly Ann Stickle
Chloris Leachman left The Facts of Life not long after Charlotte Rae took a break from acting to focus on her health. In this popular series, Leachman got a role as Beverly Ann Stickle, Mrs. Garrett’s sister, who came around with the Eastland boarding school’s girls after her sister got married and had duty in the Peace Corps, Africa.
Cloris Leachman – Now
Before Leachman got a role in The Facts of Life, she was already an industry veteran with many academy awards and reputable awards on her shoulder.
Some of her most notable projects after the show ended are The Ellen Show, Malcolm in the Middle, and Raising Hope. Leachman’s latest credit is I Can Only Imagine, one of the family dramas in her long filmography, which took over seven decades. She shares the wins record with Julia Louis-Dreyfus for the most acting Primetime Emmy. Leachman passed away in 2021.
Lisa Whelchel as Blair Warner
When Lisa Whelchel got the role of spoiled Blair Warner, she was a newcomer on the TV station. Whelchel acted as a disobedient teen who was constantly breaking the rules in the first season of this series, but the young Whelchel felt uncomfortable portraying Blair’s rebellious character.
By the time the next season started, all characters of her rebellious soul were thrown away. But she acted as a selfish and corny young girl who sometimes shows favor to those she holds close to her heart.
Lisa Whelchel – Now
After the end of The Facts of Life, Lisa Whelchel was not interested in chasing her acting career. Even before the series wrapped up, Whelchel switched to the music industry and brought a Grammy nomination for All Because of You, her Christian album.
Lisa Whelchel’s life was dedicated to inspiring others through her self-help books about religion, parenthood, child discipline, and homeschooling.
The former TV star made a shocking move in 2012 when she became a contestant on Survivor: Philippines. She received $100,000 after being voted fan favorite.
Kim Fields as Tootie Ramsey
Kim Fields is best known as Tootie. She was one of the few characters that NBC bosses couldn’t miss to bring back to The Facts of Life after her adorable appearance as Tootie on Diff’rent Strokes.
The producers often asked Kim Fields to wear roller blades because of her tiny body. It became one of her specific characteristics. She roled as one of the gossipiest girls at Eastland private boarding school, and her talkative habit frequently got her and her friends in trouble.
Kim Fields – Now
Kim Fields decided to focus on her education, so she chose to take a break from acting. She finished her education at Pepperdine University. After she finished her education, she made a comeback in a lead role in a popular situation comedy. Then she starred in a female-driven comedy as one of the main characters with Queen Latifah.
Kim Fields got some directing gigs at Nickelodeon and made a few seasons on the TV reality show after her cancelation in 1998. This woman showed on The Real Housewives of Atlanta and participated in Dancing with the Stars. Her recent credits are the Christian drama A Question of Faith and Living the Dream TV series.
Nancy McKeon as Jo Polniaczek
Jo Polniaczek appeared during Season 2 after The Facts of Life’s producers decided to make some edge in their series. She showed up from the early scene when she rode her motorcycle in Eastland private boarding school. She was the local tomboy of the Eastland boarding school. However, her character grew as the season goes and she finally showed us her softer side of her.
Nancy McKeon – Now
Nancy McKeon showed great persistence to stay proper after the show. After she got roles on a few shows that ended too soon, she finally found what she was looking for in The Division, the female-driven crime drama. After that, she appeared in Disney’s series called Sonny with a Chance. Then, she became one of the participants of Dancing with the Stars in season 27.
Mindy Cohn as Natalie Green
Mindy Cohn’s eccentric habit made Charlotte Rae so attracted to her, so Rae asked the producers to think out a new character, especially for Mindy, then Natalie Green came out. Rae named Natalie her best old friend, who was a doppelgänger for the young actress. Natalie showed a healthy self-image and helped many young girls feel pleasant inside their skin in the ’80s.
Mindy Cohn – Now
Mindy Cohn continued her acting career after The Facts of Life, and unexpectedly, she has the ability of voice acting. She has voiced the famous character Velma Dinkley in some of Scooby-Doo’s video games, popular movies, and animated shows What’s New, Scooby-Doo? and Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. She got a role on TV series lately, Fly, the first African-American female crew on a commercial flight.
Molly Ringwald as Molly Parker
The first character Molly Ringwald ever played was Molly Parker. Producers of this series had not predicted she would become one of her generation’s most prominent stars when the producers cast her. In case they knew, they would hold her much longer and let the viewers engage more with the creative girl and her fast-talking role on The Facts of Life.
Molly Ringwald – Now
Ringwald was happy to pursue her career elsewhere in the industry after NBC closed its door for her. Her characters in Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink changed her into one of the most noticeable Hollywood young stars, though her acting career stagnated after that. All the shows she was rolled in were short-lived, and she picked movies that didn’t make a big spot, unfortunately.
It took her some time to rise again. But after that, Molly Ringwald got a vital role in the TV shows Raising Expectations and The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Ringwald’s latest credits are the series Riverdale and a Netflix romance-comedy, The Kissing Booth.
John Lawlor as Steven Bradley
Mr. Bradley became the Headmaster of Eastland Academy and taught various classes at the academy. He didn’t last long since NBC bosses decided to cut him off after one season. It happened because they thought the series didn’t need more than one vital authority role.
John Lawlor – Now
Being erased from this series quickly didn’t affect his career. He became stronger over almost 40 years later and got many new roles in various shows. Lawlor’s latest credits are adventure thriller Gold, acted as Matthew McConaughey, and appeared in Netflix mini-series Godless and on Scoundrels.
Julie Anne Haddock as Cindy Webster
Cindy Webster was another character who didn’t make it once the screenwriters decided to muddle things up after the first season. Cindy was a strong tomboy with a competitive side, and loved participating in many sports activities. She loved sports such as tennis, track, baseball, and hockey. She seemed not hurt by how her character ended. Then she agreed to repeat the role at some opportunity.
Julie Anne Haddock – Now
Julie Anne Haddock permanently resigned from acting after the show ended and decided to focus more on her personal goals. She stayed in Southern California and raised a happy family with her husband. The free and glamour life suited her more. She joined the religious community as an active member, became their church choir, and dedicated her leisure time to church-associated charities.
Jenny O’Hara as Emily Mahoney
Jenny O’Hara played as an Eastland Academy science and history teacher and became Mrs. Garrett’s best friend through the first season of The Facts of Life. Producers rapidly decided her role was just a diversion and stopped her from appearing in the shows after just four episodes.
Jenny O’Hara – Now
The producers of The Facts of Life regretted throwing out Jenny O’Hara because Jenny showed herself as an all-rounded performer many years later. In the ’80s, she became one of the lead characters in sit-com My Sister Sam. She got many offers from other producers after that. Almost 40 years later, she still got the leading roles in popular shows, including Transparent and The Mindy Project.
Felice Schachter as Nancy Olson
Nancy Olson was the ordinary teen girl that spent most of her time talking with her lover on the phone. After some time, producers decided to cut her off from this series because they thought she wasn’t bringing something new. However, the producers still let Felice to comeback with her most iconic role a couple of times.
Felice Schachter – Now
Felice entered the entertainment world when she was a baby. She appeared in commercials for Ivory Snow and Pampers. She showed up on the magazine cover of American Baby and started to learn ballet when she was a young girl.
The child prodigy unexpectedly got bored of drawing attention and almost gave up on her acting career. Felice changed to production and explored her new talent by producing commercials, infomercials, and corporate films. She also works as production coordinator on the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit set.
Julie Piekarski as Sue Ann Weaver
Julie was a child star before she starred as Sue Ann Weaver in this series. However, that fact still makes the producers let her go only after one season. She was part of the main character from the very first start. But the producers felt this boy-obsessed top-tier student wasn’t interesting enough to stick out longer.
Julie Piekarski – Now
After Julie left The Facts of Life, her career was not that good, and she only managed to come on a few less popular shows as guest appearances.
Then she switched to journalism and worked as an entertainment reporter for St. Louis’s local network before getting married and having three babies.
Juliette Lewis as Terry Rankin
Juliette Lewis was only an average young actress ready to take any role she got offered. No matter how small before her acting career drew the viewer’s attention. She played Terry Rankin and appeared in the show’s last two episodes as one of the new students at Eastland private boarding school.
The producers wanted to make a spin-off in these new casts. Sadly, the TV network wasn’t interested in moving ahead with it.
Juliette Lewis – Now
Because she didn’t get her spin-off from NBC, she had to find her success elsewhere. Juliette Lewis became successful and received an Oscar nomination for her role in Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear.
Lewis starred in critically praised projects such as Whip It, Natural Born Killers, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and August: Osage Country. After the ’90s, her career was stagnant for a while. But she is still there and trying to find herself back. She became an actress in Secrets and Lies and Camping.
Mayim Bialik as Jennifer Cole
Like Juliette Lewis, Bialik was one of the young actresses who appeared at the very end of this series. She starred as one of the new students supposed to show in a never-happened spin-off.
After Blossom wrapped up, she wanted to focus on her education and finally got a Ph.D. in neuroscience. Her role as Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory got her a big TV comeback, and her performance received four Emmy nominations.
Seth Green as Adam Brinkerhoff
Seth Green appeared in the last two episodes of The Facts of Life, and he got the same fame as Juliette Lewis and Mayim Bialik. He got one of his first main characters in this popular series.
Seth Green – Now
Unlike Lewis and Bialik, Seth Green broke off his career for a year or two after his brief appearance on The Facts of Life. His wait paid off, and he finally turned the table in 1997. That year, he showed in the first Austin Powers film and got the role of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Daniel Osbourne.
Currently, he spends most of all his time on his voiceover work. His most several popular characters are Chris Griffin in Family Guy and Leonardo in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He is also working as a director, executive producer, and writer. Green mainly works on the famous animated series Robot Chicken, which he also produced.
Mackenzie Astin as Andy Moffett
Mackenzie Astin played Beverly Ann Stickle’s adopted son, who starred in the sixth season. He has always been steady with his get-rich-quick concept. However, he always helps the girls at the Eastland boarding school to deal with their problems.
Mackenzie Astin – Now
His career bloomed decades after the show ended, and he appeared in plenty of successful shows that people quickly have forgotten his appearance on The Facts of Life. A few of his most notable credits are The Magicians, Scandal, and Homeland. He’s not only acting since he also worked with his father at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore for five years.
Sherrié Austin as Pippa McKenna
Austin’s biggest passion was always music. She even comes on stage with Johnny Cash at the age of 14. But, this Australian native decided to temporarily stop her singing career after getting an offer from NBC bosses to join this series on Season 9. Austin starred as Pippa McKenna, the Australian exchange student who frequently helped Andy with his little schemes.
Sherrie Austin – Now
Austin continued her music career after the series ended and got some offers to be a guest appearance on TV. She tried to find success in her native country with the bend Colourhaus. After that, she decided to move to Nashville and chase her career in country music. She released several albums for years, and she keeps recording new music now.
Geri Jewell as Geri Tyler
Geri Jewell gave us something new with her act in this series as Geri Tyler. Jewell became the first actress with cerebral palsy and the first person with a visible disability who frequently roled on a primetime TV show. Her role is the cousin of Blair Warner, who was jealous of Geri’s excellent comedy skills because she was familiar with others’ attention.
Geri Jewell – Now
Jewell’s biggest passion is still a stand-up comedy, but she finds time to appear on TV once in a while. She had essential roles on The Young and the Restless and Deadwood, HBO’s critically acclaimed crime drama. Jewell published I’m Walking as Straight as I Can, an autobiography, back in 2011.
Alex Rocco as Charlie Polniaczek
Alex Rocco takes a lot of minor roles in television classics, including The Facts of Life. He played the father of disobedient student Jo Polniaczek.
Alex Rocco – Now
Alex Rocco took his last breath at 79 in 2015 because of pancreatic cancer. He’s admiringly remembered for his role in The Godfather and The Famous Teddy Z, his Emmy-winning performance. He also appeared on Don’t Sleep and did fabulous voice-over work.
Roger Perry as Charles Parker
Roger Perry starred as Charles Parker, the new Eastland headmaster after John Lawlor left this series. His role was not so prominent because the producers wanted the show only to have one strong authority figure. He sometimes showed up at the girls’ house to talk with Mrs. Garrett, but that was just it.
Roger Perry – Now
Roger Perry walked a colorful life before he became an actor. He even served as an intelligence officer in the United States Air Force. He focused on his family not long after his duty on The Facts of Life ended and stayed in Palm Spring with his family.
Perry took his last breath because of prostate cancer at age 85 in his home in Indian Wells.
Marj Dusay as Monica Warner
Blair Warner’s character is a spoiled and superficial teen girl, but we saw more in her each time Monica Warner – her mom, was around. Writers built more depth to her character by exposing their mom-daughter relationship and influenced viewers to think about their family dynamics.
Marj Dusay – Now
After her role in The Facts of Life, Dusay started her career in the soap opera territory. She starred in memorable roles in All My Children, Santa Barbara, Guiding Light, and Star Trek. Eventually, she decided to stop after the last series ended in 2009.
Scott Bryce as Rick Bonner
One of the most significant roles in the overall arc of the show’s plot was not in the show for as long as you might think.
Remember Scott Bryce who played as Rick Bonner? Surely you remember since Bonner was the musician who took Jo’s heart and with whom she ended up marrying. He appeared only in four episodes despite his significance to the show.
Scott Bryce – Now
Recently, Scott Bryce is still quite popular and successful as a TV actor. He was already pretty famous before joining the show because before this series. He had played Craig Montgomery on As the World Turns.
Most recently, he played in the adored TV show Chicago Med. He appeared in season 5 as a congressman Scott Graynor who is involved in a crime with no memory of what happened, Scott Graynor.
Eve Plumb as Meg
Plumb played the part of Meg, Blair’s sister, a nun who tries to encourage Jo to consider joining the convent.
Eve Plumb – Now
Unexpectedly, even though Eve Plumb significantly impacted The Facts of Life, it is no surprise that her most well-known and adored character was Jan Brady in The Brady Bunch.
She first played Jan in this role before to Facts but then decided to return to the part in several revivals. These include The Brady Brides, The Bradys, and A Very Brady Christmas. She made appearances on Blue Bloods and That 70s Show more recently.
Eve Plumb was a beloved character in The Facts of Life. She was, in fact, a very well-known celebrity even before the show debuted. After playing Jan Brady in the enduring The Brady Bunch, Plumb had already earned the hearts of all Americans.
Jami Gertz as Boots St. Clair
Jami Gertz first appeared in the episode “Gamma Gamma or Bust,” and she attracted viewers as Blair’s friend and classmate, Boot St. Clair’s. Although her fans loved her act, she reportedly didn’t really like that part she took because she noticed that usually, women’s roles on television weren’t taking enough interest in the action and were too passive.
Gertz’s character may fall within this category even if we are not sure we would classify the show in this way.
Jami Gertz – Now
Gertz’s performance on The Facts of Life got her recognized, and even though she might have thought her character was a little disappointing and quiet, she went on to have a relatively successful career.
The gifted actress has appeared in films including Crossroads, The Lost Boys, Less Than Zero, Twister, and Quicksilver. More recently, she had appearances in The Neighbors and Still Standing.
Though The Facts of Life may hold a very particular place in many of our hearts throughout the years, did you know that it was also, at the time, the longest-running sitcom in history?
That is correct! With a massive nine seasons and 201 episodes when it finished in 1988, it had surpassed even Diff’rent Strokes, the show it was a spin-off of, as the show with the longest run. But as time went on, other programs like Cheers, Frasier, and Friends overtook it in terms of popularity.
The Facts of Life was a spin-off of the adored and humorous sitcom Diff’rent Strokes, as many fans already know. However, not everyone is aware of how rapidly this spin-off was produced.
Because the network was having trouble at the time with poor ratings, Strokes was one of their few critically acclaimed television programs, so they decided to cash in right away and put the spin-off together as soon as possible.
The show was quickly separated from the original—Diff’rent Strokes had only finished its first season when The Facts of Life debuted—and the original barely had time to finish its run.
Both the second season of Diff’rent Strokes and the first season of The Facts of Life included the housekeeper Mrs. Garrett. She eventually moved out of the Strokes home and started attending school full-time. One busy housekeeping, there!
Even though this NBC great series was a successful spin-off that surpassed its parent program in many respects, the network’s producers tried to mimic the success with numerous additional results. Still, they were never as popular as this hit series.
There were six different spin-offs of this series that were attempted, but none of them ever truly caught on with audiences.
The Long Game
Despite becoming one of the longest-running TV shows in American history, this iconic show wasn’t as standard in the past when it first came on the scene as you would have believed.
While it was on the air, everything didn’t ever achieve very high ratings or win any accolades, despite how much people now love and admire it. It barely avoided cancellation each year, yet it managed to do so for an incredible nine seasons.
Sing Me a Song
Even if you’ve never seen a single episode of The Facts of Life, you may have heard the enduring theme song composed by Alan Thicke, Gloria Loring, and Al Burton. Nevertheless, the initial form was very dissimilar from the one we currently know.
Only after season two does the one we are familiar with first appear. Additionally, it had a more extended version with more verses that were included in Loring’s 1984 album A Shot in the Dark.
You may anticipate that The Facts of Life would be filled with antiquated or traditional viewpoints, and perhaps even certain prejudices, given how long ago it appeared on our televisions.
However, rumors claim that Charlotte Rae once intervened to stop a homophobic joke from being spoken on the program, stating that it is inappropriate to make fun of someone’s sexual orientation or gender. Today, everyone is aware of it, but people weren’t as cautious back then. Well done, Rae!
Off Their Chests
The truth was eventually found to be slightly different, although you might assume The Facts of Life is somewhat honest and realistic. Because did you know that Natalie and Blair had their breasts taped down in the first few episodes to maintain their youthful appearance!
Those were the days when people could get away with doing all kinds of things that we today find unimaginable.
I am doing it For the Girls
Though it has since been overtaken by other top-rated and adored shows, this great series was the longest-running TV program in history, as far as we know. But did you know it still holds the record for being the longest-running all-female show today?
It’s true! It is the only film of its length with a starring cast entirely of women. Like John Lawlor, the men who frequently appeared played more minor roles than the women.
Even though we like to think of The Facts of Life as a pleasant, traditional, and generally safe show, the reality is that it occasionally dealt with topics and events that were highly controversial or unexpected.
Because they deal with such complex subjects, episodes like “Dope,” in which Sue Anne experimented with narcotics, and “Breaking Point,” in which a student commits suicide, are not rebroadcast as frequently as some others.
A famous cast from The Facts of Life, including Jennifer Aniston, Kathryn Hahn, Allison Tolman, Gabrielle Union, and Ann Dowd, recreated a classic episode in 2021.
In the reunion, you can hear the song performance as part of the recreation before reuniting with Mindy Cohn and Kim Fields.