Charlotte Rae, the actress best known as the matriarch of the NBC boarding school sitcom “The Facts of Life,” was remembered Sunday by colleagues and fans as a warm, funny, and versatile pro.
Rae died Sunday afternoon at her home in Los Angeles. She disclosed last year that she was battling bone cancer.
Rae was hailed for her long career on stage as well as for her signature TV role as boarding school headmistress Edna Garrett on the teen-friendly NBC sitcom that ran from 1978 to 1988.
Former “Facts of Life” co-stars Kim Fields and Mindy Cohn expressed their sadness at Rae’s passing on Twitter. Cohn called Rae “this incredible force of a woman.”
“Facts of Life” hailed from Norman Lear’s Embassy Communications. Before she was tapped to anchor the show, Rae was a fan favorite on the first two seasons of another Embassy comedy, NBC’s “Diff’rent Strokes.” She was remembered fondly by her co-star Todd Bridges. “You were loved by everyone on our show,” Bridges wrote on Twitter.
Rae gained fame on TV but she made her name as a thespian in the 1950s in such stage in roles ranging from “The Threepenny Opera” to “Li’l Abner.” She was Tony-nominated in 1966 for her work in the musical “Pickwick” and in 1969 for the play “Morning, Noon, and Night.” Broadway star Audra McDonald called Rae “funny, wise, lovely, and brilliant.”
Industry notables also expressed their appreciation for Rae and her role as the no-nonsense but gentle house mother on “The Facts of Life.”