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Broadway and Television Actor Charlotte Rae Has Died

Rae was best known for her roles on The Facts of Life and Diff'rent Strokes.

Stage and screen star Charlotte Rae has died.
(© Tristan Fuge)

Stage and screen actor Charlotte Rae, best known for playing Edna Garrett on TV's Diff'rent Strokes and its spin-off The Facts of Life, died Sunday at the age of 92.

Born Charlotte Rae Lubotsky on April 22, 1926, in Milwaukee, Rae became an apprentice with the Port Players at the age of 16. She went on to attend Northwestern University. Before graduating, she moved to New York City to pursue her acting career and made her Broadway debut in the 1952 musical comedy Three Wishes for Jamie. She went on to appear in many Broadway productions including Li'l Abner in 1956; Pickwick, for which she was nominated for a 1966 Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical; and Morning, Noon and Night, which earned her a 1969 Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Play. Her last Broadway appearance was in the 1973 production of David Rabe's Boom Boom Room.

Rae broke into the world of television with a starring role on the sitcom Car 54, Where Are You? (1961-1963) and went on to numerous shows throughout the following decades. In 1975 she received an Emmy nomination for her performance in Queen of the Stardust Ballroom. In 1978 Rae was cast in Diff'rent Strokes (1978-1984) in the role of housemother Edna Garrett, which propelled her to star in the spinoff The Facts of Life (1979-1986) as well as the TV movie The Facts of Life Goes to Paris in 1982 and The Facts of Life Reunion in 2001. In 1982, Rae was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. She appeared regularly as a guest star on various television shows through 2015.

In 1951, Rae married composer John Strauss, who cowrote the theme song for Car 54, Where Are You? The couple divorced in 1976. Rae is survived by her son Larry Strauss.

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