Almost 30 years have gone by since the final episode of NBC show Facts of Life, spin-off of Diff’rent Strokes, was aired. With nine seasons and 209 episodes, it’s no surprise Facts of Life won plenty of awards. Yes, we enjoy the show from 1979 to 1988, but we want a trip down memory lane. You came to the right place…read on to see where all the stars are now.
First up, we have none other than the iconic Mrs. Garrett. Did you know Rae was Emmy nominated for her role? Fast forward about thirty years, and Rae had more than 91 credits to her name. Maybe you saw her in Sandler’s You Don’t Mess With The Zohan? Recently, she also starred in Ricki and the Flash. Sadly, she lost her battle with cancer in December 2016.
Who could forget the hilarious Blair? Lisa was only 14 years old when she began playing Blair. Once she finished with that character, Lisa took a step back from acting. Then, in 2001, she brought Blair Warner back for The Wonderful World of Disney. No one was talking about cosmetic surgery rumors when seeing her return. She appeared almost identical to her old character!
Next up, is fan favorite Kim Fields who played Dorothy Ramsey, aka Tootie. Luckily, fans got to enjoy her on-screen talents after the show. Her credits run a list over 50 projects long! Besides Facts Of Life, she’s probably best known for her role in Living the Dream. Also she joined the cast of The Real Housewives Of Atlanta for a season.
Get this, Mindy Cohn somehow snagged her part as Natalie Green while attending a production meeting as a student because she was promised free lunch. How hilarious! Since the show, she’s starred in a number of things. Most notably, she voiced Velma in the Scooby Doo series from 2002 to 2015.
Come on, we all know what Molly Ringwald got up to after playing Molly Parker! Maybe you forgot this 80’s star began on both Diff’rent Strokes and Facts of Life. Anyway, from The Breakfast Club to Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles, she had quite the career. Let’s not forget her more recent roles in The Secret Life Of The American Teenager and even more recent, in Riverdale.
Perhaps, you did not recall Clooney’s 17 episode run as George Burnett. It’s hard to argue that he’s become the most successful from the cast. This legendary icon always manages to appear so suave and natural, no cosmetic surgery or face lift required. From ER to Ocean’s Eleven to O Brother, Where Art Thou?, he’s had hit after hit. Oh and he married the lovely Amal back in 2014.
Seriously, what hasn’t Leachman been in? She joined the series in 1986 as Edna’s sister, Beverly. Her career has spanned for more than 70 years! To name a few projects, she’s starred in Young Frankenstein, The Beverly Hillbillies and Spanglish. She was the oldest contestant to compete on Dancing with The Stars. Oh and she hosted the Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget. Can she get any cooler?
Things did not work out as well for John Lawlor. After playing Steven Bradley for one season, his character was written out. Then he had small roles on TV movies and shows. However, he never quite hit it big. He did appear in an episode of Breaking Bad in 2011.
We all adored Andy Moffett, played by Mackenzie Astin. Sadly, Astin only played Andy for three years. Perhaps, you know about Astin’s successful career in film and TV since then. He’s starred in things like The Magicians and Scandal. He actually has several films in post production, set to release soon.
Of course, Nancy McKeon was iconic as tomboy Jo Polniaczek. Afterwards, she almost landed a role in the hit show Friends. Both McKeon and Courtney Cox auditioned for Monica, but the role went to Cox. McKeon said she never harbored any ill feelings towards Cox. After, she starred on Disney’s Sonny with a Chance as the mother of Demi Lovato’s character. Then, McKeon continued acting until retiring in 2011.
Julie Anne Haddock
We watched Julie Ann play Cindy Webster for the first seasons and then reappear in some episodes in the next two seasons. Sadly, NBC explained the show’s direction changed, thus, her character was removed. Haddock decided to move on from acting after this part. Nowadays, she enjoys being with her family and in church. She resides in California and spends time doing charity work.
Next up, we have Austin who played Pippa in the show. Much to everyone’s surprise, she completely changed directions after the show. Austin has since chose to pursue a music career. If you’re interested in country, you should check out her five country albums!
When Geri Jewell appeared on Facts of Life, she became the first ever person with a visible disability to have a regular part on prime time! Not to mention, she was the first with cerebral palsy to star on a TV show. Afterwards, she became known for playing Jewel in HBO’s Deadwood.
Between Facts of Life and the Godfather, Rocco could surely do it all. Sadly, this star died in 2015 when he was 79 years old. Besides the mentioned roles, he also lent his voice to many projects since he had a distinct gravelly voice.
My how the time has flown! Now, Roger Perry, who played Charles Parker, is in his 80s. He’s slowed down his work load in recent years. However, over his entire career he has 94 credits total! From the more recent work, he was in a movie called Wreckage.
After playing Boots St. Claire on Facts of Life, Gertz found some success in Hollywood. You may remember her for roles in The Lost Boys, Twister and Crossroads with Britney Spears. Then she appeared in some shows. Most notably, she had a recurring role in HBO’s Entourage and now stars in ABC’s The Neighbors as Debbie Weaver.
Wow, her role as Monica Warner was really something. Perhaps, you know Dusay as well for starring as Pamela Capwell Conrad in Santa Barbara. Just before she retired, she starred in Guiding Light from 2003 to 2009.
Back during the first season, Jenny O’Hara played Miss Emily Mahoney. Mahoney was Mrs. Garrett’s sidekick and hilarious in her own right. Anyway, Jenny’s really made a name for herself in Hollywood since. She’s starred in The King Of Queens, The Mindy Project, Transparent and many more.
Ryan Cassidy is the youngest of the famous Cassidy sons. His brother is the iconic actor David Cassidy. Back to Ryan, who played Kevin Metcalf in 1985 during five episodes. Post Facts of Life, he switched paths. Actually, he has been involved in the art department for many TV shows, including, The Secret Life of Alex Mack, The King of Queens, JAG and Good Luck Charlie. Recently, he seemed to have switched back to on-screen, playing some dramatic roles.
Before Facts of Life, no one knew Lewis. Well, things sure changed for her once she played Terry Rankin! Probably most recognized for her Oscar nominated role in Scorsese’s remake of Cape Fear, this star has major roles in many films. Oh and she’s also a musician!
Yet another actor who made it big after starting on Facts of Life, we have Scott Bryce. He played Rick Bonner on the show. Then, he really hit it big with Lethal Weapon 3. He still acts to this day, and he’s married with one kid.
Despite only playing Jenny for three episodes, this star really became a talented player in Hollywood. She began producing, directing and writing after this role. Mostly, she works on short films. Actually, she didn’t return to acting until 2012. Nowadays, she’s married and has five kids.
Can we just say this legend makes aging look like a piece of cake, without cosmetic surgery? Amazing. Although she only appeared twice as Eve, she became world famous for playing Jan on The Brady Bunch. Even though her later roles were not as big, she continued acting in shows like, Law and Order, Days of Our Lives and Army Wives. Also she enjoys painting in her spare time. Fun fact…she bought her first home at age 11 for $55,000, which she sold recently for $3.9 million.
Again, he only appeared in two episodes as Major Dorsey, but he found lots of success with TV shows. Maybe you remember him from his parts in Walker Texas Ranger, Xena Warrior Princess, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest or others. Due to his somewhat stern demeanor, he played doctors, government officials and lawyers most often.
With the minor part of Alicia in two episodes, Jennifer Barlow made a memorable performance. Her talent was noted, and she continued acting in shows like, Dallas, The Jeffersons, Nine to Five, Beverly Hills 90210 and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Not only has she acted in those shows, but she has produced, directed and done much more behind the scenes in Hollywood.
Speaking of two episodes, Mayim guest starred on the final two episodes of the show back in 1988. She played Jennifer Cole, a bubbly child. Now, we hardly need to catch anyone up on this star! She plays Neuroscientist Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory. Not to mention, she earned her PhD in Neuroscience so art imitates life in this case.
Before becoming the star we know today, Seth Green appeared in two episodes of Facts of Life. Some of his more famous roles are in Rat Race, the Austin Powers movies, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and his voicing for Robot Chicken and Family Guy.
Lester enjoyed eight episodes with Facts of Life. Since then, he’s gone on to have a successful career. In fact, he’s one of the most famous Robin voice actors for the Batman franchise. Amazing! Besides guest starring in many TV shows, he’s starred in numerous plays and musicals.
Piekarski played Sue Ann Weaver for 16 episodes before leaving Facts of Life. She laid low, certainly not getting cosmetic surgery or on the cover of tabloids. However, she had a notable appearance in the movie The Importance of Doubting Tom in 2016.
Like some of her other former costars, her performance on Facts of Life wasn’t nearly as famous as her later role. Now, we all know Hunt from the show Mad About You. Of course, she’s done a ton of other work in the industry. Recently, she starred in Shots Fired.
This next star gives George Clooney a run for his money! She’s one of the most successful on our list. Anyway, she voiced on King of the Hill and Thundercats. Let’s not forget her hilarious and outstanding role on Californication!
Maybe we spoke too soon…Larry Wilmore also found widespread success after the show. Well, after taking a bit of a break from acting, Wilmore began writing. He wrote for The Bernie Mac Show and In Living Color, to name a few. Now, we know him for his show on Comedy Central. Congrats Larry!
Again, you probably do not remember when Spade appeared on the show. However, we all know this wild comedian for his roles afterwards. He even was nominated for two Golden Globes. From The Emperor’s New Groove to Just Shoot Me, he has demonstrated a wide array of talents.
From Diff’rent Strokes to making some appearances on Facts of Life, Coleman’s story does not have a happy ending. Sadly, he found himself struggling with legal and financial issues. Then, he tragically passed away at only 42 years old. Rest in peace, Gary.
With just three episodes on The Facts of Life, you may not remember Orson’s role as Oliver Thompson. However, after leaving this show, he starred as Loren Bray on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Of course, Bean continued to star in many other television shows, but he’s most recognized as Loren Bray.
Something about Dick O’Neill is just iconic. We all may not remember his brief role on The Facts of Life, but we know him from his various other roles. Perhaps, you recall his role as Charlie on Cagney and Lacey. Unfortunately, the world lost this star in 1998 when he was 70 years old.
Starting with this small role on The Facts of Life, Coster became a real star! Can you believe Nicolas Coster has appeared in 168 projects? Well, not for long because he is still acting! Actually, he is probably best known for his seven year role in The Bay. Maybe you’ll see him in the film Con Man (2018) with the stars Mark Hamill and Elisabeth Rohm.
Actually, Mako was Oscar nominated before appearing on the show! However, the guest appearance surely, did not hurt his reputation. To name a few, Mako starred in the films, Memoirs of a Geisha and Seven Years in Tibet. Sadly, Mako died in 2006 when he was 72 years old.
Moon Unit Zappa
Yes, she’s the daughter of the musician Frank Zappa! Besides her short role on the show, she appeared on Curb Your Enthusiasm, How I Met Your Mother and Roseanne. Zappa is a stand-up comic and magazine writer in addition to being an actress.
Richard Dean Anderson
Of course, we know him as the star of Stargate, General Hospital and MacGyver. You probably didn’t realize he appeared on The Facts of Life. Anyway, he’s stayed very busy in Hollywood. Most recently, he guest starred in Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23.
From a guest star on the show, to having his own prolific acting career, Richards really became quite the actor. Actually, he got to act in hit shows like Mad Men, Grey’s Anatomy and even How to Get Away With Murder. He also acted in the TV film, The Infamous.
Actually, Jermaine played himself on the show during an episode! Well, that makes sense since he’s a famous singer and former member of The Jackson 5! Nowadays, his music lives on and Jackson performs on the Goji ni muchu! show.
Wow, since playing Casey Clark on The Facts of Life, this star has gone on to become a famous stand-up comic, actor, and author. He played Patrick Arcola on Empty Nest and as Parker Meridian in Beggars and Choosers. Also, he’s been on a number of podcasts like WTF, The Tony Perkins Show, Todd N Tyler Radio Empire and The Rubin Report. In 2010, he wrote ¡Satiristas! that features interviews with famous comedians like Bill Maher, George Carlin and Stephen Colbert.
Back on the show, she played Alex. Since then, Heather played guest roles on many shows like Beverly Hills, 90210 and Quantum Leap. Also, she played Catherine Margolis, aka Cat, on Sisters. Her final acting credit was as Young Estelle on Touched By An Angel. Now, she’s married to Tod Kessler, and they have three kids.
Since playing Emily in three episodes, this actress continued to work in Hollywood. She voiced Janine and other characters for The Real Ghostbusters. She’s voiced for Digimon: Digital Monsters, Twitches, The Cheetah Girls, The Garfield Show and many other Digimon projects. Perhaps, that’s why you haven’t seen much of her, but you sure have heard her since the show!
Lucky for Lauren Tom, she got her big debut as an actress on The Facts of Life. Back in 1982, she played Miko on two episodes. This was the beginning of a long career for Lauren. Not only did she play Julie, Ross’ girlfriend on Friends, but she’s voiced for many shows. Maybe you heard her as Amy on Futurama! Also she voiced for King of the Hill and Rocket Power. Also she played Lois in Bad Santa and Rebecca in Pretty Little Liars.
He was Ben Rutlege in The Facts of Life then went on to guest star in many shows. He also played Steve in the movie He Said, She Said. He played Alex in The Gregory Hines Show. Also, he appeared in an episode of Boston Legal! In George Lopez, he played Mel Powers. His more recent credit was his guest role in Reckless.
After his role as Raymond Garrett in The Facts of Life, he played J.D. Lucas in My Sister Sam on television. Then, he had many other guest roles on shows for years. However, he landed the role of Robbie on HBO’s Six Feet Under and as Mr. Messerschmidt on Phil of the Future.
Sadly, Lois passed away in January 2008. However, she amassed quite the list of credits after playing Noreen Stickle on The Facts of Life. Afterwards, she was Joanne St. John on In the Heart of the Night and Evelyn in Crossing Jordan. Her last role was as Rosie Spelman in the television film, The Christmas Card.
Actually, Jeff’s acting career began with his role as Peter on The Facts of Life! Since then, he’s guest starred on many shows like The Cosby Show, Law & Order, The Sopranos, The Mentalist and Difficult People. He played Dr. Lewis Niles on Birdland. Also, he appeared on HBO’s Ballers!
Meredith Scott Lynn
Like some other stars, this was Meredith’s first credited role when she played Ashley Payne on The Facts of Life. After that she played Leslie Barash on The Marshall Chronicles and then Jean Mathias on the show The Pursuit of Happiness. She’s even voiced for Family Guy. However, now she’s known for playing Anne Milbauer on Days of Our Lives.
Rhoda played Evelyn on the show, but she’s probably best known for her roles in Ghostbusters, The Man Who Wasn’t There and Three Fugitives. She had the part of Mrs. Rossini in the Who’s the Boss? television show and as Pearl Frischetti in The Great Defender and Rhoda DiMauro in Just Shoot Me! until 2003. Recently, she appeared as Mrs. LeBlanc in Episodes.
This Canadian actress got her big break on The Facts of Life. After that, Follows really soared to fame with her role in Anne of Green Gables (1985). Actually, she won the Gemini Award for best actress for that role in 1986. Recently, Megan Follows played Queen Catherine de’Medici on Reign.
Back on The Facts of Life, she played Kristy. After, Tammy continued acting on shows and TV movies. She played Ginger Szabo on Homefront and Patty on Home Improvement. However, she’s best known for her role as Det. Maggie Sullivan in The Young and the Restless. Her most recent role was as Liz Foley on an episode of Criminal Minds.
From the cast, Felice is one of the only who left Hollywood after her role. Her character Nancy was written out in 1982 and then reappeared for one episode in 1986. Fans noted how Nancy appeared so genuine and flawless, no cosmetic surgery required. Anyway after her big role, she left the screen but returned in the early 2000s to work as a production coordinator and producer on a few projects.
Now that we’ve seen where the cast of the show is and how they are doing, we can’t help but look back and reminisce as to how amazing this show is. As we reminisce and look back at the show’s most amazing moments, let’s take a look at these amazing facts during the show’s production!
There Were Seven Girls In The First Season
During those first 13 episodes, things were a little busy at Eastland School, with Felice Schachter, Julie Anne Haddock, Julie Piekarski, and Molly Ringwald (yes, that one) thrown in with the others. A handful of school officials were also regular characters. Eventually, it became clear that there wasn’t enough to do for all of those characters, and the show’s ratings plummeted. Producers cut it down to the aspects that were working best for the second season, dumped everyone else, and cast Nancy McKeon as the tomboy, blue-collar Jo.
The Guests In The Show Who Later Turned Into Famous Celebrities
Clooney acted as a handyman in 17 episodes spread between seasons seven and eight, which is a well-known fact. Helen Hunt, Juliette Lewis, Mayim Bialik, Seth Green, Richard Dean Anderson, Richard Grieco, Dennis Haysbert, Crispin Glover, David Spade, and Bridesmaids director Paul Feig were among the show’s guests who weren’t famous yet when they showed up.
It Was NBC’s Longest Running Series
At the time, nine seasons and 201 episodes were enough to break the record. (It even outlasted Diff’rent Strokes, the sitcom from which it was ripped off.) Cheers, Frasier, and Friends have subsequently overtaken it in the NBC record books.
Their Age During The Show’s Premiere
During the show’s premiere, Kim Fields was 10, Lisa Whelchel was 16, and Mindy Cohn was 13. (Nancy McKeon didn’t join until season two, but she’s the same age as Cohn.) In the first season, one of the reasons Tootie was always on roller skates was to hide her tiny stature from the other girls.
A Quick Spinoff
In the late 1970s, NBC was floundering. In the 1977–78 season, 15 of the top 30 network shows were on ABC, 11 on CBS, and only four on NBC (Little House on the Prairie, Project U.F.O., and the Sunday and Monday night movies). When Diff’rent Strokes premiered in the fall of 1978 and became a hit (ranking 27th for the season), NBC jumped at the chance to cash in.
Premiering Around The Same Time Of Another Story With A Similar Plot
Dorothy was about a free-spirited former showgirl who becomes a music and theatre teacher at a snobbish east coast girls’ school, starring Broadway’s Dorothy Loudon (Annie’s original Miss Hannigan). It aired on CBS for four episodes in August 1979, one week before The Facts of Life premiered.
How Nancy McKeon Got The Role
Her screen test included an emotional sequence with a phone call. Later, director John Bowab noted, “I distinctly remember asking Nancy, ‘Even though it says cry, don’t cry. I want you to hold back and make the audience cry.’ And she did. Everybody in the control room was shattered.”
The First Disabled Character To Regular Show Up On A Primetime Show
Geri Jewell, a cerebral palsy comedian who producer Norman Lear had seen perform at the Media Access Awards in 1980, played this character. “I got a standing ovation, and I ran into Norman in the elevator,” Jewell later recalled. “He said, ‘You’ll be hearing from me really soon, kid.’ Three months later, he called me with the ‘Cousin Geri’ episode [in season two].” Over the next few years, Jewell appeared on the show a dozen times. Jewell was most recently a regular on HBO’s Deadwood and a guest star on Glee.
It Wasn’t That Big Of A Hit
In its debut season, it rated 74th, just avoiding cancellation. The show became popular from season two onwards, especially among young viewers, thanks to the streamlining of the ensemble. However, despite the fact that the show frequently won its time slot and had a few episodes enter the weekly top 20, the season average was never higher than 24th. It received only three Emmy nominations (no wins) throughout its run: one for hairstyling, one for technical directing, and one for Charlotte Rae as lead actress.
How Blair Was Supposed To Sound Like
Welchel shared about her experience while auditioning for the role, “There was one line in the script and I read it very snidely and condescendingly and sarcastically,” she recalled. “And I didn’t realize until I got the part and came back later that they had rewritten the character to be the snob.”
The Theme Song Has Various Verses
The jaunty opening tune, written by Alan Thicke, Gloria Loring, and Al Burton, only appeared in truncated form on the show. In fact, if you listen clearly, each season uses a different version of the verse for it’s opening theme song.
It Started As A Backdoor Pilot
A “backdoor pilot” is a seemingly normal episode of an existing show is actually a test for a new show. (The Facts of Life began as a backdoor pilot.) The second-season episode “Brian & Sylvia” would have led to a sitcom about interracial marriage (including Tootie’s aunt). The all-boys military school neighboring our ladies’ school was introduced in season three’s “The Academy,” and they reappeared in a season four episode.