It goes without saying that the 1980s have been having a major revival lately. Everything from Stranger Things to Wonder Woman 1984 is trying to take fans back to the days of big hair and loud clothing.
However, one show that doesn’t get enough love is The Facts of Life. Back in the day, this show and its stars pretty much defined what the ’80s were all about. Running for nine seasons from 1979-1988, The Facts of Life helped create the template for the next few decades of sitcom television.
But where are its iconic stars now, all these years later? We’ve got the info on what the cast of The Facts of Life has been up to!
Sitcoms are (no pun intended) a funny thing. On one hand, most of the characters fit the archetype of other TV shows. But you always need at least one character that really bucks the trend. And for The Facts of Life, that was Nancy McKeon.
McKeon played Jo Polniaczek, a tomgirl who was cool enough to hang out with the fellas. Since the show ended, she has had a long acting career, though nothing quite as prominent as her ’80s stardom. However, her roles on shows like Can’t Hurry Love and The Division were truly captivating!
Our next celeb, however, prefers to dazzle behind the scenes.
It’s difficult to follow up a role in a really popular TV show. If you’re not careful, you get typecast. And your biggest fans may be annoyed if you do something completely different.
But “completely different” is what Mindy Cohn managed to do. After dazzling fans as Natalie Green (a character with confidence and swagger), Cohn transitioned into a robust voice acting career. She was best known for voicing Velma in various Scooby-Doo franchises from 2002 to 2015, but she still popped up in live-action roles on shows like The Middle and The Secret Life of the American Teenager.
The Facts of Life was one of George Clooney’s earliest Hollywood gigs, but even big fans of the show may not remember his role. After all, his character George Burnett, who debuted in the seventh season, only appeared in 17 episodes. He played a handyman charged with helping to rebuild Edna’s Edibles after a fire.
Clooney ditched the series after its eighth season, but it didn’t take long for him to become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Since then, he’s been in everything from ER to Batman and Robin to Ocean’s 11, and become a major director, with films like Good Night, and Good Luck. We can’t wait to see what he does next!
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For younger fans of The Facts of Life, Mackenzie Astin’s character Andy Moffett was really inspirational. He was calm and wise, and he always knew just what to say to characters who were feeling sad or lonely.
He was only on the show for four years, but it helped launch him into a very solid career as an adult actor. In addition to roles in movies such as Wyatt Earp and Iron Will, he has appeared on popular TV shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, House, Homeland, and Lost.
Remember when we said sitcoms revolve around archetypes? Well, just about every sitcom needs a wise older figure that everyone can learn from. And on The Facts of Life, that character was Mrs. Garrett, played by Charlotte Rae.
When she came to the show, she was already a veteran of the stage and screen with six decades of experience. After the show ended, she appeared in Off-Broadway plays such as Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days and as a voice actor in 1992’s Tom and Jerry: The Movie. Sadly, she lost her fight with bone cancer and passed away on August 5, 2018, at the age of 92.
It seemed like every ’80s sitcom was required to have one character that fans either hated or worshipped. And Lisa Whelchel’s character Blair Warner perfectly fit that description. She was spoiled and vain, but she was also beautiful and highly driven.
Interestingly, Whelchel’s life after the show has been more about Hallelujah than Hollywood. She had previously released a Christian album back in 1984, and when the show ended, she became a Christian inspirational speaker and author of 10 books. But she didn’t entirely quit acting — in 2012, she won over fans once more with her appearance on Survivor.
As for the next celeb, she is no stranger to completely reinventing her career!
What are the markers of true sitcom fame? To some people, it might be having a long and prosperous career. But to others, it might mean coining a famous catchphrase!
On The Facts of Life, Kim Fields played the gossip-friendly character Dorothy “Tootie” Ramsey. People still love to quote her phrase “we’re in trou-ble,” but she is much more than an iconic line. She went on to star in the sitcom Living Single and became a prolific director who has directed episodes for Tyler Perry shows such as House of Payne and Young Dylan.
Between her directing and her acting career (which are both ongoing), Fields is likely the most prolific modern professional on this list outside of George Clooney!
Replacing Mrs. Garrett on The Facts of Life was a daunting task, but Hollywood legend Cloris Leachman was up to the challenge. After Charlotte Rae left the show at the end of the seventh season, the show needed a new motherly figure to take over. But Rae helped pick Cloris Leachman to play Mrs. Garrett’s sister Beverly Ann Stickle.
Leachman ended up winning fans over, but The Facts of Life is just one part of a long list of impressive roles, including her iconic turn in Young Frankenstein. Sadly, Leachman passed away on January 27, 2021, at the age of 94. But she has the rare distinction of keeping up a successful screen career for over 60 years.
In her later years, Leachman was introduced to a new generation of fans as Grandma Ida in Malcolm in the Middle. She won an Emmy for that role, but it might not have felt that special. After all, she had seven Emmy awards before that as well as an Academy Award for The Last Picture Show!
Our next celeb hasn’t won any awards. But she hasn’t given up yet!
Julie Piekarski wasn’t on The Facts of Life as long as some of her co-stars. She played Sue Ann Weaver, a character who balanced her desire to impress the boys with her academic struggles. Unfortunately, she was written off the show after its third season.
Piekarski never really achieved mega-stardom, but she did have some memorable guest spots in shows like General Hospital. She eventually took a break from acting to focus on raising her children, but she is now ready and eager to get back into the spotlight!
Felice Schachter has a lot in common with Julie Piekarski. She also played a student who was written out of the show after a few seasons. However, her character of Nancy Olsen is still remembered fondly by some diehard fans.
After leaving The Facts of Life, she only had one other role: the 2001 movie 30 Years to Life. But she eventually went into production on projects such as Magic Island. And she appeared as herself in a Behind Closed Doors episode that focused on The Facts of Life.