TV Divas: Revisit the Ladies of ‘The Facts Of Life’
If you’re a 70′s or early 80′s baby then you should remember the very popular show, The Facts Of Life. The sitcom originally ran on the NBC from August 24, 1979 to May 7, 1988 and it still evokes great memories when you mention it to someone who grew up watching it. What many people don’t remember is that it was a spin-off of the sitcom Diff’rent Strokes, the series’ premise focused on Edna Garrett (Charlotte Rae) as she becomes a housemother at Eastland School, an all-female boarding school in Peekskill, New York.
Everything about this show was epic. The theme song will never be forgotten and their ability to push the envelope by introducing serious storylines gave an otherwise cookie cutter show an edge. The show was ahead of its time with a cast of young women that appealed to all of us. They were recently honored at the TV Land Awards by walking away with the Pop Culture Icon Award. Many actors and actresses appeared on the show during it’s nine season run including George Clooney, Geri Jewell and Molly Ringwald but the show centered around the following ladies.
Mrs. Edna Garrett (played by Charlotte Rae) was a mentor to the girls at Eastland. She assumed the role of housemother initially but in later years she became a business owner when she opened her own gourmet food shop, Edna’s Edibles, in the fall of 1983. After Edna’s Edibles was damaged by fire; it was rebuilt as a gift shop called “Over Our Heads.”
After the show Charlotte Rae provided the voice of the Nanny in the cartoon 101 Dalmatians: The Series. She also appeared in four episodes of ER in 2008.
Natalie Green (played by Mindy Cohn) was the resident curvy girl but with lines like “Who wants to be a skinny pencil? I’d rather be a happy Magic Marker!,” the plus size Natalie was one of the first teenagers on a television sitcom to embrace her curves. Although Natalie was a good girl, many of the storylines that involved Natalie had to do with sex including a rumor being spread about her being easy and her almost being a victim of sexual assault.
After the show Mindy Cohn went on to star in shows like Charles In Charge and 21 Jump Street. In 2003 she was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for her work on the show, What’s New Scooby Doo?. In recent years she has appeared on TLC’s What Not to Wear and Hot In Cleveland.
Joanna “Jo” Marie Polniaczek (played by Nancy McKeon) had the most memorable entrance on the show when she arrived on her motorcycle. Her motorcycle entrance was right in line with her tough girl image. At times Jo was nothing but trouble. In one episode Jo convinced the gang to steal the school van and use fake IDs to buy drinks at a bar. Even though she had an edge, she had a softer side and showed this side when forced to defend her frenemy Blair who she later declared her best friend.
After the show Nancy went on to star in a few made for television films. She eventually married key grip Marc Andrus in June of 2003, and in March of 2004 she gave birth to their daughter, Aurora.
Dorothy “Tootie” Ramsey (played by Kim Fields) was the only character to appear in every episode. You probably remember Tootie sashaying around in her rollerskates, her gossiping ways and her being the resident snitch. She was like the annoying little sister, probably because she was the youngest character. One of Tootie’s memorable storylines involved her being coerced into only speaking with other blacks in an attempt to discover her roots and a modeling gig gone wrong that was actually a cover up for kiddie porn.
After the show Kim Fields starred in a number of shows and movies including Living Single with Kim Coles and Queen Latifah. Fields is currently working as a director for the sitcoms Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns, Tyler Perry’s House of Payne and BET’s Let’s Stay Together.
Blair Warner (Lisa Whelchel) was originally the show’s resident rebel but it didn’t take long for her to become the spoiled “Daddy’s Girl”. In her eyes she was perfect. Blair was not only beautiful but she won awards got great grades and she loved shopping. Everything about Blair’s life was grand. From her convincing a boy in Switzerland to move close to her to her having a feeling of superiority because she was the heiress to her father’s multi-million dollar business, Warner Textile Mills.
After the show Lisa Whelchel became an author, writing Christian motherhood and parenting books. She married Steven Cauble, an associate pastor at her church, on July 9, 1988. They have three children together.