Charlotte Rae, who played Edna Garrett on Diff’rent Strokes and Facts of Life died at the age of 92 at her home in Los Angeles on Sunday, August 5, according to multiple reports.
The Tony-nominated actress, who also played Woody Allen‘s mother in the 1971 movie Bananas, revealed in April 2017 that she had was battling bone cancer, seven years after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
“Now, at the age of 91, I have to make up my mind,” she said in a statement at the time about deciding whether to undergo treatment. “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,” she continued. “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.”
The acting veteran, who was born Charlotte Rae Lubotsky in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, got her start in theater and radio before moving into TV and playing the wife of Al Lewis in the early 1960s sitcom Car 54, Where Are You?
She earned Tony nominations for her stage work as well as an Emmy nod for her role in Queen of the Stardust Ballroom. In 1978 Rae was cast as housekeeper Edna Garrett in Diff’rent Strokes, quickly winning fans all over the world and scoring another Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
It was Rae herself who reportedly proposed the spinoff that became The Facts of Life. The sitcom about a girls’ boarding school and their house mother debuted in 1979. It costarred Lisa Whelchel, Mindy Cohn, Kim Fields and Nancy McKeon. (A reboot is currently in the works.)
Rae left the series in 1986 and went on to guest star in shows like ER, The King of Queens and Pretty Little Liars and films like Don’t Mess With the Zohan. She released her autobiography, The Facts of My Life, in 2015.
Former Real Housewives of Atlanta star Fields paid tribute to Rae in a tweet on Sunday night as news of the star’s death spread.
— Kim Fields (@KimVFields) August 6, 2018
“You all already know my heart is heavy yet…. Sorry, no words at the moment just love and tears… and yeah, smiles…. #charlotterae #ripcharlotterae”
“it’s with a heavy heart & lots of tears (but a smile as i think of her) that I now move through the world without this incredible force of a woman being in it,” Cohn captioned an Instagram picture of herself with Rae. “she 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 love you char. as I send sympathies to larry and the rest of the family, I wish you the happiest of homecomings.”
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