Charlotte Rae, the dramatic actress of the stage and TV who became iconic as fluttery-but-firm Mrs. Garrett on Diff'rent Strokes (1978-1979) and The Facts of Life (1979-1986; 2001) has died at age 92, ExtraTV reports.
Rae, born April 22, 1926, was first an accomplished Broadway actress as a member of the original Broadway cast of Li'l Abner (1956), and as a two-time Tony nominee, for Pickwick (1965) and Morning, Noon and Night (1968).
On TV, a comic turn on Car 54, Where Are You? (1961-1963) recast her in that medium as a comedienne.
She was the mail lady on Sesame Street (1971-1972) and appeared on the trailblazing (but ultimately unsuccessful TV version of the play Hot L Baltimore (1975) before creating the role of Mrs. Garrett on Diff'rent Strokes in 1978.
Her performance was a winner with audiences, leading to the even more successful spin-off The Facts of Life, which found her Mrs. Garrett playing housemother and dietitian to the dramatic teen girls of Eastland, an all-female boarding school.
Rae played the part on the series as well as in two TV movies. It was just announced that Appian Way is planning to possibly reboot the series in the near future.
Rae's film work was more sporadic, but she played the mother of Woody Allen's (b. 1935) chaacter in Bananas (1971) and had a memorable but brief part in the 1979 film version of Hair. Her final movie role was in Meryl Streep's (b. 1949) Ricki and the Flash (2015).
In 1976, Rae divorced composer John Strauss (1920-2011) after 25 years of marriage when he announced he was bisexual and wanted an open relationship. She would delve into the struggle she had with his sexual orientation in her 2015 memoir The Facts of My Life, which also covered her alcoholism.
She is survived by two sons.
Hilarious and affectionate send-up of Mrs. G: