Where are they now: Facts of Life
You take the good, you take the bad
The Facts of Life, a spin-off of the popular series Diff’rent Strokes about an all-girls boarding school in upstate New York, premiered on August 24, 1979.
Find out where all your favorites are today.
Charlotte Rae, who played housekeeper Edna Garrett in the sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, suggested the spin-off. Mrs. Garrett left her duties with the Drummond family to take charge of the young ladies at Eastland private school. Rae was on The Facts of Life for the first seven seasons and a special 2-part season 8 episode. She was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for her role.
Rae died on Aug. 5, 2018, at the age of 92.
Kim Fields played the lovable Tootie on The Facts of Life, the youngest student at Eastland Academy. Fields already had other acting credits to her name by the time she booked the sitcom, including playing Janet Jackson’s best friend Kim on Good Times and Arnold Jackson’s girlfriend on Diff’rent Strokes, who lived on in The Facts of Life.
Her real-life mom Chip Fields played her on-screen mother on The Facts of Life.
Fields is an actress and producer who starred in many popular shows of the time, including Mork & Mindy, 227, Martin, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. She's best known for starring in another hit show featuring an all-female cast, Living Single. Fields played Regine Hunter on the long running series co-starring Queen Latifah.
Fields also dabbled in reality television, joining the cast of The Real Housewives of Atlanta for the show's 8th season in 2015, and Dancing with the Stars in 2016.
She recently announced that she and her former The Facts of Life costars will reunite for a special holiday movie on Lifetime called Light Up My Christmas.
Lisa Whelchel got her start in the entertainment industry as part of The New Mickey Mouse Club, appearing on the show from 1977-78. The following year, she landed the role of spoiled daddy’s girl Blair Warner on The Facts of Life, a role she returned to in a made-for-TV movie The Facts of Life Reunion in 2001.
She has mostly left acting since then, becoming a best selling (but controversial) author. She also participated in the reality competition series Survivor: Philippines in 2012.
Whelchel will reunite with former costars Kim Fields, Mindy Cohn, and Nancy McKeon in Light Up My Christmas in 2019.
Nancy McKeon started out working on soap operas, including Another World and The Secret Storm. She joined the cast of The Facts of Life during the show’s sophomore season as transfer student Jo Polniaczek.
McKeon continued acting after the series ended, even auditioning to play Monica Geller on Friends. She worked on shows, including The Division, Sonny With a Chance, and Dancing With the Stars.
McKeon will reunite with former costars Kim Fields, Lisa Whelchel, and Mindy Cohn in Light Up My Christmas in 2019 for Lifetime.
Mindy Cohn was discovered by Charlotte Rae when she visited her Bel-Air high school while researching The Facts of Life. Cohn played Natalie Green during the show’s entire run.
Cohn continued acting when the show ended in 1988. She starred in a variety of shows including Charles in Charge, 21 Jump Street, Hot in Cleveland, and The Middle.
She also worked as a voice actor on Scooby-Doo, bringing to life Velma Dinkley from 2002-15.
Cohn will reunite with former costars Kim Fields, Lisa Whelchel, and Nancy McKeon in Light Up My Christmas in 2019 for Lifetime.
Before Molly Ringwald became the queen of big-screen teen dramas, she played Molly on the first season of The Facts of Life. Her role was written off, putting her on the path of superstardom.
Ringwald went on to become a teen icon and a member of the infamous Brat Pack. She starred in hit films, including Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink.
Ringwald currently stars in the hit CW series Riverdale.
Cloris Leachman was already a recognized name in Hollywood when she started working on The Facts of Life. She had worked on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off, Phyllis. She starred in the sitcom from 1986-88 as Beverly Ann Stickle.
After taking her turn around the dance floor on Dancing With the Stars during the reality competition’s 7th season, she worked on the Starz drama American Gods in 2017.
As the son of Patty Duke and John Astin, Mackenzie Astin was always destined for Hollywood. He joined the cast of The Facts of Life in 1985 as Cloris Leachman’s adopted son Andy Moffett Stickle.
Mackenzie, whose brother is Sean Astin, worked on a series of films and television shows since The Facts of Life concluded. He has had recurring roles in Scandal, The Magicians, and Homeland.
Before George Clooney became a superstar, he played handyman George Burnett on two seasons of The Facts of Life.
After The Facts of Life, Clooney appeared on The Golden Girls and had a supporting role on Roseanne. He hit the big time when he landed the role of Dr. Doug Ross on the medical procedural ER from 1994-99.
He went on to become a Hollywood leading man starring in hit films like One Fine Day, Out of Sight, and the Oceans Eleven movies. He won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 2005 for Syriana and Best Picture in 2012 for producing Argo.