Then + Now: The Cast of ‘The Facts of Life’
You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have … ‘The Facts of Life,’ obviously.
One of our favorite shows of the ’80s followed the Eastland boarding school for girls, Mrs. Edna Garrett, and the many life lessons she taught her students over the course of nine wonderful seasons. But what have Mrs. Garrett and her girls (and one very special boy) been up to since then?
Charlotte Rae (Mrs. Edna Garrett)
Then: The actress first appeared as Edna Garrett on ‘Diff’rent Strokes’ before being spun off into her own show — which was, of course, ‘The Facts of Life,’ where she played the head of a tiny all-girls boarding school.
Now: Rae went on to make guest appearances on several TV shows, including ‘Murder, She Wrote,’ before lending her voice to the character of Nanny on the animated show ’101 Dalmatians: The Series,’ which ran for 45 episodes.
Lisa Whelchel (Blair Warner)
Then: Whelchel got her start in showbiz at the age of 12, when she was recruited for ‘The New Mickey Mouse Club,’ before going on to play Blair Warner — the rebellious rich girl who loves to break the rules.
Now: Whelchel has mostly removed herself from the spotlight, focusing more on writing books and speaking to fellow Christian mothers. In 2012, she was a contestant on ‘Survivor: The Philippines,’ and last year she starred in Tyler Perry’s ‘A Madea Christmas.’
Nancy McKeon (Joanna Marie “Jo” Polniaczek)
Then: Nancy McKeon played Jo, the sporty, tomboy-ish teen who butts heads with the preppy, classier Blair all the time.
Now: McKeon appeared in a ton of TV movies after ‘The Facts of Life’ ended, and later landed recurring roles on the TV series ‘The Division’ and, more recently, on the Disney channel show ‘Sonny with a Chance.’
Mindy Cohn (Natalie Green)
Then: Mindy Cohn got her first big break as Natalie Green on ‘The Facts of Life.’ Natalie was a bit curvier than the other girls, but she had an amazingly positive attitude about her body.
Now: These days, you might catch Cohn on an episode of ‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager.’ Since 2002, she’s also been the voice of Velma on several ‘Scooby-Doo’ animated shows.
Kim Fields (Dorothy “Tootie” Ramsey)
Then: Kim Fields played the roller-skate-wearing Tootie, the youngest girl at the Eastland School and the BFF to Natalie.
Now: Fields went on to star in the ’90s sitcom ‘Living Single,’ and most recently had a role in the pregnancy comedy ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting.’
Cloris Leachman (Beverly Ann Stickle)
Then: Cloris Leachman played Beverly Ann Stickle, Mrs. Garrett’s divorced sister who comes to live with the girls and run the school when Mrs. Garrett moves off to Africa. (In real life, Charlotte Rae’s contract for the show expired, and she didn’t want to renew it.) Leachman was a seasoned actress who previously appeared in everything from ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ to the Mel Brooks classic film ‘Young Frankenstein.’
Now: Leachman has had a long and varied career, with roles in ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ movie, ‘Now and Then’ and ‘Beerfest,’ and most recently she lent her vocal talents to the animated film ‘The Croods.’
Mackenzie Astin (Andy Moffett)
Then: Mackenzie Astin played Andy Moffett, an orphaned kid who was bounced around from one foster home to another before working at the Over Our Heads malt shop the Eastland girls ran — which is when Beverly Ann Stickle decided to adopt him.
Now: Astin went on to star in ‘Wyatt Earp’ and ‘The Last Days of Disco.’ He hasn’t been in many movies, but he’s made tons of appearances on TV shows like ‘Lost,’ ‘Psych,’ and ’90210.’