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Charlotte Rae Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (5) | Trivia (98) | Personal Quotes (32)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 22 April 1926Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Birth NameCharlotte Rae Lubotsky
Nickname Maude
Height 5' 2" (1.57 m)

Mini Bio (1)

This Milwaukee native was born in 1926, where she was raised on a farm, with her two sisters (Beverly, Mimi), with Charlotte being the second of her three. Rae wanted to be a dramatic actress, but eventually wound up being a comedienne, all because of her stand-up comedy routines. After graduating from high school, she attended Northwestern University, where she met the unfamiliar actress Cloris Leachman, and would be best friends for life. She actually created the role of "Beverly" for Cloris to play on The Facts of Life (1979), all this was after Rae left the show. She dropped out of college and moved to New York City, and began a career as a stage actress, performing in such plays like: "Pickwick", when she was nominated in 1966 for Best Featured Actress in a Musical and, in 1969, for Best Actress in a Play for "Morning, Noon and Night". All this was after she co-starred with Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis in Car 54, Where Are You? (1961). She would live there up until 1974, at the time she moved to Los Angeles, this eventually led her to become an actress. She was nominated for an Emmy Award for her supporting role in the 1975 drama, Queen of the Stardust Ballroom (1975). After guest-starring on numerous shows, including Norman Lear's All in the Family (1971) and Good Times (1974), Lear hired her old friend to co-star on Diff'rent Strokes (1978) as Gary Coleman's housekeeper, "Edna Garrett". Within a year, she gained popularity with her character, which eventually led her to having her own series, The Facts of Life (1979). Between Norman Lear and NBC gave her greenlight to star in her own show, which focused primarily on a houselady, residing in an all-girls school, which was the exact opposite of "Diff'rent Strokes". This series featured rookie actresses Kim Fields as resident gossip "Tootie" and Lisa Whelchel as rich spoiled brat "Blair Warner". Before then, she approached young Mindy Cohn at Westlake School in Los Angeles, California, and suggested that she take the role of smart "Natalie Green", a character that Charlotte created for her, which was named after one of her best friends from high school, which successful, she did and stayed on the show for 8 seasons. Rae left the show in 1986, despite all the fame she had gained, owing to a health problem, who later returned to the stage, displeasing the show's producers. In 1992, she was the voice of "Aunt Christine Figg" in Tom and Jerry: The Movie (1992). She also appeared in "The Vagina Monologues" in New York. In 2000, she starred as "Berthe" in the Paper Mill Playhouse production of "Pippin". In 2007, she appeared in a cabaret show at the Plush Room in San Francisco for several performances. In the 2008 movie, You Don't Mess with the Zohan (2008), Rae has a role as an older woman who has a fling with Adam Sandler's character. On February 18, 2009, she appeared in a small role as "Mrs. Ford" on the "I Heart Mom" episode.

Towards the end of the new millennium, Rae attended the James Stewart Centennial Tribute at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, California, which was hosted by Robert Wagner. Among the attendees were Ann Rutherford, Shirley Jones, Cora Sue Collins, and Stewart's daughter, Kelly Stewart. Carroll Baker was also supposed to have attended the tribute, but if she did, she is nowhere to be found in the Academy's photos. Rae's older sister, Beverly, died from pancreatic cancer in 1998, her divorced husband of 35 years, John Strauss, had died, after a long battle of Parkinson's disease, in 2011. A pancreatic cancer survivor, around the same time after John's death, she continues to act while making guest appearances everywhere, especially TV Land, which her show, The Facts of Life (1979), won the award.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Richard Collins II (brothergaryii@yahoo.com)

Spouse (1)

John Strauss (4 November 1951 - 28 March 1978) (divorced) (2 children)

Trade Mark (5)

Auburn-reddish hair
Her husky voice
Her smile.
Her plump, short stature
Often tells stories of her experience in New York City.

Trivia (98)

Knew Jeffrey Hunter through their work in local theater as teenagers.
Attended Northwestern University (Evanston, IL).
Charlotte divorced her husband, composer John Strauss, before starting Diff'rent Strokes (1978). Her youngest son, Larry Strauss, is a South Central Los Angeles school teacher and a writer. He helped write her memoir "The Facts of My Life" (2015) where she revealed that the reason that her marriage ended in divorce was because her husband came out as bisexual and wanted to have an open marriage. She didn't want that kind of marriage but remained friends with him and his new partner artist Lionel Friedman until both their deaths from Parkinson's disease.
Starred in "Pippin" at the New Jersey Paper Mill Playhouse.
Created the role of Mammy Yokum in the Broadway musical "Lil' Abner".
Middle daughter of three musical girls. Older sister Beverly, an opera singer, died of cancer a few years ago. Younger sister Mimi is a musician and composer.
Discovered young Mindy Cohn for The Facts of Life (1979) show while Rae and the TV show were at an all-girls school preparing for research and casting. Rae was instrumental in getting young student Cohn cast.
Member of Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority.
Was twice nominated for Broadway's Tony Award: in 1966, as Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Musical) for "Pickwick" (based on the Charles Dickens work), and in 1969, as Best Actress (Dramatic) for "Morning, Noon, and Night".
Her classmates at Northwestern University included Cloris Leachman, Paul Lynde, Charlton Heston, Martha Hyer, Patricia Neal and Agnes Nixon. Because they were seated alphabetically and her last name was Lubotsky, she & Lynde were seated next to each other.
Left The Facts of Life (1979), at the beginning of the eighth season, because she felt her character was repeating herself. After she tried to reduced her role, the producers and NBC were against her decision of her departure, so she was being replaced by Cloris Leachman, who stayed on the show until the show's cancellation in 1988.
Her sister, Beverly Ann, died in 1998.
Best known by the public for her starring role as Edna Garrett on Diff'rent Strokes (1978) and it's spin-off show The Facts of Life (1979).
She has three grandchildren.
Created the Natalie Green character for her future The Facts of Life (1979) co-star, Mindy Cohn, named after one of Charlotte's best friends, back in high school.
Her parents are Esther Ottenstein, who was a childhood friend of Golda Meir, and Meyer Lubotsky, a retail tire business owner.
Was forced to drop Lubotsky, because a radio personality told Charlotte that her last name wouldn't cut it.
Used to be a heavy smoker for years.
Created the Beverly Ann Stickle character for her future The Facts of Life (1979) co-star, Cloris Leachman, named after one of Charlotte's real-life sisters.
Each summer, while she was in college, she also appeared in summer stock.
Her eldest son Andy was autistic. She knew something was wrong since he was a baby and kept taking him to doctors who told her that she was worrying over nothing. Eventually, a doctor who diagnosed childhood cognitive disabilities told her that her son was autistic. She thought he said "artistic" and was relieved. Then, he wrote out the word "autistic" and explained to her Andy's condition and that if he didn't improve by age six, he would have to be institutionalized. She was devastated. But she and her husband helped Andy as much as they could, and when he grew up, he had a girlfriend Rhonda, who was also challenged, but more-functioning than him. Her mother Edna was warm, caring, and wise, and became fast friends with Charlotte. When it came time to giving Mrs. Garrett's first name on "The Facts of Life", Charlotte insisted to the writers that her name be Edna, because she wanted her character to have the same qualities. When she told the real Edna about it, she was very flattered and honored.
Was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a disease that ran in her family. All of her relatives had passed away, with the exception of Rae, who became cancer-free in 2011.
Before she was a successful actress, she used to work at nearly every nightclub for unfamiliar singers in New York City.
Before she was an actress, she was also a singer.
Graduated from Shorewood High School in the village of Shorewood, Wisconsin, in Milwaukee County, in 1944.
Her parents were Russian Jewish immigrants.
Remained good friends with Lisa Whelchel, Nancy McKeon, Mindy Cohn and Kim Fields only after The Facts of Life (1979) ended. During the run of the show, however, she felt that the girls were "politely distant" with her. It was almost a decade after she left the show when McKeon asked her to guest-star on her show Can't Hurry Love (1995) that she knew the reason why. McKeon confided in her that the girls thought of her more as a boss, rather than a colleague. In reality, Charlotte was a hired-hand like they were and had nothing to do with the network and producers' decision to fire the six cast members during the first season.
She got the role of Edna Garrett on Diff'rent Strokes (1978), because Norman Lear had been friends with her years before. This led her to starring in The Facts of Life (1979), the year later, which she stayed on the show from 1979 to 1986.
Her ex-husband John Strauss served as musical composer of Car 54, Where Are You? (1961), in which she co-starred.
At 16, she was an apprentice with the Port Players, a professional theater company that came for the summer to Milwaukee, with several established actors.
Had an ongoing feud with Joan Collins. Rae referred to her as a "bitch.".
Composed The Facts of Life (1979)'s 1st season theme song.
Met Norman Lear on an episode of The Colgate Comedy Hour (1950).
Her family moved to the village of Shorewood, Wisconsin, in Milwaukee County, in 1936.
Had attended the James Stewart Centennial Tribute at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, California, which was hosted by Robert Wagner. Among the attendees are: Shirley Jones, Ann Rutherford, Cora Sue Collins and Stewart's daughter, Kelly Stewart. [12 June 2008].
Edna Garrett, her character on The Facts of Life (1979) was born on a farm in Wisconsin, the same as herself in real-life.
Named the Andy Moffett character (played by Mackenzie Astin) in The Facts of Life (1979) after her own real-life son, Andy, who was autistic.
When she was a little girl, she acted with the Wauwatosa Children's Theatre and performed on the radio.
When she was told to drop her last name, Lubotsky, her father was mildly insulted.
Had missed numerous episodes of The Facts of Life (1979), midway through the sixth and seventh seasons, due to her serious health problems.
She was the narrator and singer for the children's books series, Wally Kola. Her sister Mimi Guten, wrote the music for the book written by Mimi's long time music partner Toni Mazzola.
Her character on The Facts of Life (1979) was a Democrat, so is Rae, in real-life.
Enjoys golfing, dancing, dining, collecting photo albums, spending time with her family, listening to opera, taking care of people (especially her son) with disabilities, singing and sewing.
Used to be a spokesperson for Mr. Muscle oven cleaner and Charmin toilet paper in the 1970s.
After she lost her older sister, Beverly, she was asked to move back to her hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she shared her family's story at a local awareness program.
At one point, she wanted to be a dramatic actress, when eventually, she ended up being a comedienne, all because of her stand-up comedy routines.
Musical showbusiness ran in her family.
Made her Broadway debut in "Three Wishes for Jamie," opposite Leigh Allen and Anne Jeffreys.
After her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, she joined the Pan Can Action Network and Aurora Healthcare to encourage people that pancreatic cancer risk factors and in-particular the importance of detailed testing for those with a family history of pancreatic cancer.
Celebrated her 85th birthday in 2011, with the rest of her The Facts of Life (1979) cast at the TV Land Awards. On that day, both of her former co-stars, Nancy McKeon and Kim Fields, gave speeches respectively, in honor of her birthday.
Before she celebrated her 84th birthday in 2010, her cyst had grown by the day of her surgery. Afterwards, she completed her last chemotherapy treatment.
After her long stage career, she moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1974, to become an actress.
Prior to her cancer diagnosis, her son, Larry Strauss met with her doctor at UCLA. After auditioning him, it was concluded that he was the one to perform surgery, where the tail of my pancreas was removed. [14 August 2009].
Her sister, Mimi, lives in Dallas, Texas.
Was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer early, because she was screened for it. She was the only one in her family to have a successful surgery.
Met Bea Arthur in a revival of the play, "Bertolt Brecht," where they began a lifelong friendship until Bea's death in 2009.
Is a fan of both shows: Law & Order (1990) and Masterpiece Classic (1971).
Attended the 90th birthday party of longtime friend Carol Channing, on 21 February 2011.
Acting mentor and friend of Mindy Cohn.
Attended the 40th Anniversary Reunion of The Waltons (1971).
Did not complete her studies in college.
Released her only album in 1955 that was reissued in 2006, called "Songs I Taught My Mother.".
With the death of Conrad Bain in 2013, Rae and Todd Bridges are the only two surviving stars of Diff'rent Strokes (1978).
Began her show The Facts of Life (1979) at age 53.
Lived in New York City from 1948 to 1974.
Attended the funeral of her lifelong friend and old classmate Paul Lynde, when the actor/comedian passed away in 1982. Rae also guest-starred with Lynde on both shows: The Paul Lynde Show (1972) and The Hollywood Squares (1965).
Met Shirley Jones on an episode of The Partridge Family (1970). The two began a lifelong friendship.
Met future husband, John Strauss, when Rae was recording an album called, 'Songs I Taught My Mother.' At the time, Strauss, served as musical director on the project, managing the band worked on the recording and arranging the music.
A singing and dancing enthusiast.
Had guest-starred and starred on a few of Norman Lear's shows, before she was cast on Diff'rent Strokes (1978) and The Facts of Life (1979).
Longtime friend and classmate of Cloris Leachman.
Before she was a successful actress, she used to work in radio and in television in Chicago.
Had referred to Conrad Bain as her big brother.
Was inspired by Gloria Steinem.
Her favorite sitcom was All in the Family (1971), which featured both Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton.
Every year, Rae contributes to the Saban Clinic in Los Angeles, California, where she was discovered by Bernie and Mimi West. The clinic was open in 1967, at the time, it was called the Los Angeles Free Clinic, and in 2008, both Haim Saban and Cheryl Saban donated $10 million dollars, which it was named in honor.
Is a longtime friend of the late Charles Nelson Reilly. They both guest-starred on a 2-part episode of The Love Boat (1977).
Neighbor of Dick Woelfle.
Attended the 75th Anniversary of the Waa-Mu Show at Northwestern University [2006].
Met Norman Lloyd in the Broadway play, 'Golden Apple.' Rae guest-starred on St. Elsewhere (1982) opposite him.
She played the same character (Edna Garrett) on three different series: Diff'rent Strokes (1978), The Facts of Life (1979) and Hello, Larry (1979).
On her 87th birthday, Marilyn Maye sang a birthday song to her.
Was a spokesperson for the public service message, Helen Keller International, in 1987.
After Vanguard Records went out of business, she tracked down the recording rights of the company, and in the 1970s, Rae brought back the album, for $5,000.
Had commuted from New York to Los Angeles every Friday, to tape Car 54, Where Are You? (1961).
Her favorite dramatic role is: Miss Daisy, in 'Driving Miss Daisy.'.
College classmate and longtime friend of Sheldon Harnick.
John La Touche was said to be a fan of hers. Before Rae would sing, he used to write opera songs with her ex-husband, John Strauss.
She appeared in the annual student theater extravaganza, 'The Waa-Mu Show.'.
Had attended the 100th Birthday of her lifelong friend Norman Lloyd, on 9 November 2014, in Los Angeles, California.
After her role on Ricki and the Flash (2015), she retired from acting at age 89.
She worked with George Clooney, Helen Hunt, and Molly Ringwald on The Facts of Life (1979) before they went on have successful film careers.
Her popularity on Diff'rent Strokes (1978) led her to doing a sequel The Facts of Life (1979), playing the lead character of Edna Garrett.
Is only eight days older than her Cloris Leachman.
Her cast on The Facts of Life (1979) had never told Rae about weigh-ins, until after. As the cast matured, long after the series ended, they stay in touch, after several of the cast have children of their own.
She is most widely known to be a social butterfly.
(April 27, 2017) Has been diagnosed with bone cancer earlier this month at age 91 - 6 years after she was cancer-free from pancreatic cancer.

Personal Quotes (32)

I can't even go to Barbados without people wanting to hug me and 'Oh, Mrs. Garrett!', you know, it [The Facts of Life] really had an impact on their lives.
[Who said in 1979 about her small, awkward, plump stature]: How did I fit? I didn't. I felt inferior. I had this tremendous need to perform. I wanted to be acceptable to my peers. To feel equal. I had an older sister, Beverly, who seemed to be very secure. I had a younger sister, Mimi, who was cute! I thought if I could just be a big star, I'd feel like somebody too.
[on theater]: I became drunk with power. I was burning to get to New York. But my parents begged me to stay. I needed to graduate, they said. I did soap opera on radio in Chicago. When I told the director my name was Lubotsky, he said, 'But you can't use that.' My father was very hurt. 'But why?,' he wanted to know.
[on Teresa Brewer]: Teresa Brewer and I stood on the bar and sang 'Can't Help Lovin' That Man' and 'Cockeyed Optimist. Sometimes a drunk would give me 50 cents. My father came in once and nearly died. With tears in his eyes, he told me the cigarette girl had tried to hustle him.
[on her professional friendship with Norman Lear]: So open. So up front. Not a big shot. Not afraid to take a risk, make a mistake.
You can take wonderfully talented actors, wonderfully talented writers and producers, and, uh, do a wonderful show!... but if it doesn't hit with the public in two minutes, it's bye-bye.
Because of the power of television, I was visible to everybody all over the world. But there are many things in the theater that are more fulfilling and that I look forward to doing more. But really, I love it all: theater, film, television.
[As to how she was hired by Norman Lear to play Edna Garrett]: I got involved with 'Diff'rent Strokes,' because of Norman Lear. When I was in New York ginally], I did a lot of things and one of the things was 'The Colgate Comedy Hour,' and he was one of the producers and writers of it. So, when I came out to California [after many years in New York with my family], they were very, very wonderful, because I would do little guest shots, guest appearances on all of his sitcoms, and then I was doing something called 'The Eddie Capra Murder Mysteries,' and I was at Universal in costume, and they called and asked me to come meet with the producers, and everything. I was wearing an old schweppy thing that I wore for the character for the murder mysteries, and I sat down and I expected to read. They didn't have me read, we just talked, and they asked me about how I felt this housekeeper should be with these two boys and with Mr. Drummond, and I told him the way I felt, and the next thing I knew I had the part.
Joan Collins is a bitch! There's no doubt about it, everyone says she an extremely difficult person.
[About The Facts of Life (1979) along with her Edna Garrett character]: I want to bring in as much humanity as possible, as well as the humor. I've tried to make her a human being with dimensions. The way they write her now is with a great deal of sensitivity and understanding. But I don't want her to be Polly Perfect, because she must have human failings and make mistakes. She's also a surrogate mother to the girls. I told them I wanted to be firm with the girls because I know it's important. Parents must lay down ground rules for their children to help them to grow up and to learn responsibility for their actions. They must learn to stand on their own two feet.
[Who said in 1985 about being a serious actress, rather than being a funny comedienne]: A good actress should be able to play comedy as well as drama. I was doing a lot of drama until I took the comedy role in the series 'Car 54, Where Are You?,' and I've been tagged as a comedian ever since.
[Who said in 1982 when she headed to New York, when she dropped her last name]: My father was heartbroken when I didn't use Lubotsky. Today actors keep their real names and I could use it.
[on the death of Gary Coleman]: Coleman was filled with joy which he spread around to millions of people all over the world.
Composers, artists, actors, singers, all of them. I think, unconsciously learn from others. I'm sure it's not conscious, but they can't help it. I know I was influenced by Beatrice Lillie. I must have been.
[Despite her ongoing feud with Joan Collins, she responded in 2007 if other stars, who would want to work with Joan]: It's a miracle that people still want to work with her, but I guess they do!
[In 2006]: I wanted to be a serious actress. I am a serious actress. I've done lots of good stuff.
[Who laughed about one of the songs she used to sing]: In those days, you could do things that were risqué. The lyrics were clever. Where would I be without those writers?
For the first ten years of my life I lived at 1232 N. 12th St. It's a freeway now. My father owned a tire store. There were three girls in my family, and I was the middle one. All three of us were very talented. My older sister, Beverly, settled in Milwaukee and she died a few years ago. She was an opera singer who sang with the symphony and a group called the Saturday Arts' Club. My younger sister, Mimi, is an accomplished musician and composer. She wrote a children's album that I recorded for her, called "Wally Koala" and she's written a couple of musicals as well.
[Who said of Gary Coleman's death in 2010]: I said a prayer for him this morning after hearing about his condition. Gary was so loving, so charming. He was the big star of the show.
[In 1989]: I'm in a rage, if you really want to know about it.
[In 1988]: My former husband wanted to move to California. He is a music editor and music coordinator. He coordinated the music for the film version of 'Amadeus.' So many people have moved there from New York, and I felt at home.
[on her popularity while playing the fifty-something Edna Garrett on The Facts of Life]: There have been lots of changes in my life these past few months. Not only am I thinner, but Mrs. Garrett is, too. It'll be a fun season.
[Who said in 1980 about an episode which she wasn't inspired to lose weight]: Yes, in that show, I was on a crash diet. But I had plans long before that to sensibly lose weight. I've dropped from a size 14 dress to a svelte 8; it's terrific.
[Who responded in 1984 as to why she enjoys series television]: In TV, you have to compromise. But when strangers put their arms around you and tell you how much they love you it somehow makes it all worthwhile.
[Of Joan Collins]: You want to know what happened? They played it for her and she said, 'Who's that Old Cow?' And I really felt badly because I've had a long siege of the flu, and it was my first night out. I did write a note to her and had him slip it under her dressing room door and I said, 'I apologized, you were excellent in the play, signed, sincerely, 'The Old Cow.'
I have to keep reminding people that I am not Mrs. Garrett. Mrs. Garrett is more together. She is much more organized. Not I ...
[on her departure of The Facts of Life (1979), at the end of the seventh season]: They wanted me to stay a couple more years, they offered me millions.
[Of Mindy Cohn]: I kept going back to this little girl, Mindy Cohn, cause she was so adorable and she had that adorable little voice, and I asked her a question, and she go, 'Well, I don't know, it seems to me that,' and she's so cute and funny and I said, 'She'd be a great compliment to the other girls.'
I had to act because I couldn't do anything else.
[2011] I was thinking of a tree that grows up straight to the sky. Why, what did you think?
[In 2015]: If this is your passion don't judge yourself. Just keep striving. Life is one long day at school. Keep working and growing in your art.
[If she had turned down a role before playing Edna Garrett]: Yes. I've turned things down. Sometimes because I've just finished something else an I'm too exhausted or sometimes the material just doesn't grab me. I've been offered TV pilots I didn't think would fly - and even if they did go to series those weren't shows I'd want to be on for years and years. When my boys were young, I turned things down to spend time with them. It was something I needed to do-for them and for me.

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