Posted: Monday, August 6, 2018 – 11:54 AM
Stage, screen and television actress Charlotte Rae, best known for portraying housekeeper Edna Garrett on “Diff’rent Strokes” and the spinoff sitcom “The Facts of Life,” has died at her Los Angeles home at the age of 92.
Rae died Sunday afternoon surrounded by family, according to one of her two sons and her publicist, who did not give a cause of death. But the diminutive actress revealed in 2017 that she was battling bone cancer, a diagnosis that came several years after she underwent treatment for pancreatic cancer.
Co-stars from “The Facts of Life” and “Diff’rent Strokes” expressed sadness on social media.
Todd Bridges, in a tweet about his “Diff’rent Strokes” co-star, said the show “would not have been the same without you #CharlotteRae. You were loved by everyone on our show and you were loved by everyone on the facts of life will miss you. “My heart is full of pain. Rest in peace my friend.”
Kim Fields from “Facts of Life” wrote: “You all already know my heart is heavy yet…. sorry, no words at the moment just love and tears… and yeah, smiles.”
And Mindy Cohn, who also co-starred on “Facts of Life,” wrote: “It’s with a heavy heart and tears (but a smile as i think of her lil’ bod and hear her voice) that I now move through the world without this incredible force of a woman being it. “
Pamela Acosta Marquardt, founder of the Manhattan Beach-based Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, said Rae helped bring attention to the disease.
“In the pancreatic cancer community, Charlotte was a cherished champion for the cause,” Marquardt said. “She served as an Influencer of Hope, an elite group of notables who lend their voice and unite with everyday heroes in the fight against pancreatic cancer, and Charlotte was always willing to use her voice to raise awareness and visibility.”
Her extensive family history with pancreatic cancer — Rae lost her mother, uncle and older sister to the disease before her own diagnosis — led her to be more vigilant about its symptoms and risk factors.
“Keep searching for a solution, explore clinical trials,” Rae told PanCAN in 2016 when asked what advice she gives other patients fighting the disease. “I’m extremely grateful to be here today and I’m sending out powerful prayers to all of you.”
She attended local PurpleStride walks, championed for increased federal funding through PanCAN’s annual National Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C., and referenced the organization in numerous media interviews.
“We must speak out loud and clear: federal funds must be invested to develop more effective treatments and to find a simple, affordable detection test,” Rae told fellow PanCAN Advocacy Day participants in a letter she penned in 2013. “This disease is so frightening because it cannot be detected early enough. Effective treatments and early detection tools could save thousands and thousands of lives.”
Rae was born Charlotte Rae Lubotsky in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on April 22, 1926, and was raised on a farm, according to IMDb. She started in theater in the 1950s and was nominated for Tony Awards in 1966 for her role in the musical “Pickwick” and in 1969 for the play “Morning, Noon and Night.” For her work on the small screen, she was nominated twice for primetime Emmys, with one of those nods coming for “Facts of Life.”