The Facts of Life was a US sitcom that captured the heart of many fans throughout the ’80s. The hit show was first aired on NBC in 1979 and ran until 1988, making it one of the longest-running TV sitcoms ever produced. The prime-time series focused on Edna Garret, played by Charlotte Rea, who became a housemother for a fictional all-female boarding school, dubbed Eastland School in New York.
Created as a spin-off of another hit series Different Strokes, it was one of the first shows to feature a primarily all-female cast, which was a rare feat in the ’80s. Over time, the show actually helped revolutionize the way many characters were captured on TV and paved the way for the next generation of sitcoms.
We’re sure that for most fans, this 80’s show still holds a nostalgic place in their hearts, so let’s take a look at where some of our favorite stars are today.
Lisa Whelchel: Then
When Lisa Whelchel first strutted onto the set at just 14 years old, she played Blair Warner, who was a preppy, wealthy and pretty rebellious teen. As the series progressed though, Lisa slowly transitioned from a temperamental teenager into a beautiful and graceful young woman.
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While Lisa first joined the show, she portrayed the role of a spoilt and often bratty teenager perfectly. Still, over the course of the sitcom, her character really blossomed and matured, and you could see the shift in direction from as early as Season 2.
Lisa Whelchel: Now
While avid fans may remember Lisa Whelchel as a spoilt and bratty teenager on The Facts of Life, it turns this was just the start of her blossoming career. After her time on the sitcom came to a natural end, Lisa went onto pursue her other passions, which mainly included music and religion.
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Since Lisa is a devout Christian, she started to focus more on her religious music. In 1984, she released an album ‘All Because of You’ and was nominated for a Grammy Award. In 2012, she also competed in Survivor: Philippines and finished second place, taking home a staggering $100,000.
Kim Fields: Then
As the youngest member of the Facts of Life cast, Kim Fields totally nailed the role of Dorothy “Tootie” Ramsey. She first joined the show at just 11 years old, she stole the limelight for both her acting skills and the fact that she was the only African-American on the show.
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Kim played an integral role in the sitcom and she was central to many storylines. Her identity was also highlighted in the show and there were a few episodes which helped address the issue of racism. Another fun fact about Kim is that she would often roll around the set on roller skates to hide how short she really was.
Kim Fields: Now
For Kim Fields, her time as Dorothy Ramsey on The Facts of Life was just the start of her flourishing career. After she left the sitcom, she went on star in five seasons of the hit Fox show Living Single.
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Eventually, Kim then decided to take a break from acting and embarked on a degree in Pepperdine. She also focused on some of her other passions, like music. Later, Kim returned to our TV screens as a director of numerous hit shows, like Kenan and Kel. Recently, you might have spotted her on reality TV shows, like Dancing With The Stars and the Real Housewives of Atlanta.
Molly Ringwald: Then
In the first few seasons of The Facts of Life, before the show really got into its stride, there were a few casting changes. Evidently, the producers decided to cut some of the main cast early on. They did this as they decided they wanted to give more screen time to some of the central characters instead.
Sadly, this meant that Molly Ringwald was cut from the show early on. Understandably she wasn’t too happy about being cut from the hit sitcom and made quite a scene about it. Still, thankfully she there was more to come for Molly Ringwald.
Molly Ringwald: Now
While Molly’s time on the show might have come to an abrupt ending, this was only the beginning for her. In fact, she bounced back quick enough and eventually became one of the most iconic stars of her generation.
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For Molly, perhaps being cut from this show was a blessing in disguise for her. After she left, she developed a strong working relationship with a top Hollywood director John Hughes and was cast in many of his classic 80’s movies. Some of the most memorable include The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink.
Cloris Leachman: Then
Cloris Leachman landed the role of Beverly Ann on the hit show, and she was originally brought in as a replacement for Edna Garrett, played by Charlotte Rae. While many fans fondly remember Edna Garret as the helm of the show, when she decided to leave and was written out of the script, they felt confident that Cloris was a worthy replacement.
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When Cloris first joined the cast as Beverley, it’s fair to say that she had some big boots to fill. Even though she was arguably a little less likable than Edna Garret, she still made the role her own. She also won the approval of many fans for her performance.
Cloris Leachman: Now
Unlike the other characters, before Cloris graced the show, she was already an established actor. While she had already starred in numerous successful movies, Cloris also broke a few records throughout the years, collecting eight Primetime Emmy awards and no less than 14 award nominations.
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Cloris had already proved her success by picking up an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for starring in The Last Picture Show in 1971. After leaving the sitcom, her career showed no sign of slowing down and she continued to appear in shows like Malcolm in the Middle and Raising Hope.
John Lawlor: Then
John Lawlor is another fine actor who sadly didn’t survive the early casting cuts, which shook the show. Although John had played an integral role to the story when he was cast as Headmaster Steven Bradley, this meant he only appeared in the first season of the show.
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Still, for the first series, John was central to the initial build-up of the plot, so we’re sure some fans were disappointed to see him leave so early. He also left quite an impression and we’re happy that this wasn’t the end of his TV career.
John Lawlor: Now
John Lawlor went on to become a successful TV and movie actor and even dabbled in directing after his time was cut short from The Facts of Life. Some of his most memorable guest appearances include shows like Knots Landing, LA Law, and Barney Miller.
You can also spot John Lawlor in some iconic movies like National Lampoon’s Movie Madness and Mr. Fixit. What’s more, he has appeared in some of the most successful shows of all time, like Breaking Bad and Scoundrels.
George Clooney: Then
Although it might come as a surprise to some fans, George Clooney made quite a few guest appearances on The Facts of Life back in the day. He was originally cast as the handyman George Burnett in season 7, and as you can imagine, made an unforgettable impression on the set.
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You might remember George as the character who stole an onscreen kiss from Blair Warner. Of course for George Clooney, he was still establishing himself as an actor and this was just the start of his blockbusting career. It seems he was already destined for greatness.
George Clooney: Now
Before George Clooney cemented his status as a Hollywood A-lister and one of the most successful actors on the planet, it might be hard to believe he appeared in shows like The Facts of Life and even Rosanne.
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For Clooney, we’re sure appearances on shows like this helped put him on the map. Soon after, he landed his breakthrough role though in ER, before transitioning into the world of movies like the Ocean’s franchise and scoring two Academy Awards. George also seems to get better with age, so we’re sure there’s more to come for him.
Felice Schachter: Then
Although you may have blinked and missed her, Felicity Schachter did make a brief but memorable appearance on the show. She was cast in season one of The Facts of Life as a little girl named Nancy.
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While Felice did give a talented performance on the set, unfortunately, she was another character who fell victim to the casting cuts after the opening season. However, this was only the start of her blossoming career.
Felice Schachter: Now
While Felice Schachter may have felt a sense of rejection after being cut from the show, we’re happy to report that she bounced back into the world of acting. Soon enough, she was even cast in the 1981 coming-of-age comedy Zapped, alongside Scott Baio, which quickly earned a cult following.
After this iconic movie hit, Felice did fall off the acting radar for a few years, but eventually returned to the set as a production coordinator. She continued to help produce some of the most successful shows around, such as Law and Order: SVU.
Julie Piekarski: Then
Before Julia Piekarski joined the cast of the show as Sue Ann Weaver, she had already made a name for herself as a talented performer on Disney’s The New Mickey Mouse Club. When the Facts of Life producers spotted the talented Mousketeer, they quickly recognized her potential.
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Although Julie started out a popular member of the cast in season one, sadly she was another budding young actress who didn’t survive the producer’s casting cuts. Still, fans would have been pleased that she did sporadically reprise her role and made a few appearances in other episodes.
Julie Piekarski: Now
While Julie Piekarski might have felt like she had to start all over again when she was cut from the show, she quickly jumped back into the limelight. Over the next few years, Julie appeared in numerous hit shows, including Quincy M.E., Three’s Company and The Best of Times.
While Julie was a successful actress, she also pursued a career as a reporter on KPLR in St. Louis. When she got married in 1986, she began to focus more on her family life and now enjoys spending time with her family.
Sherrie Austin: Then
While most of the cast of Facts of Life starred in a few seasons and had the chance to develop into their roles, the Australian actress Sherrie Austin only joined as Pippa McKenna in the last season. Pippa was an exchange student from Aussie institution Koolunga Academy.
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Although Sherrie was only on the set for a short time, she still managed to put her stamp on the role, and fans seemed to love how she performed so well with McKenzie Astin’s Andy. What’s more, after she left the sitcom, we’re happy to report that this was only the start of her career.
Sherrie Austin: Now
Sherrie was quickly recognized for her acting talents after appearing on the sitcom and received many acting opportunities when the show came to an end. However, Sherrie Austin ultimately had her heart set on pursuing different career direction, which was music.
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Even before Sherrie joined the show, she has always been serious about becoming a musician. She even opened for Johnny Cash when she was just 14 years old. Throughout the 90’s she pursued her dreams and performed in the band Colorhaus. In 2003, she released a hit single ‘Streets of Heaven’ and released her fifth album in 2011.
Geri Jewell: Then
When the Facts of Life producers first spotted Geri Jewell performing at the Media awards, they didn’t hesitate to cast her in the role as Cousin Geri. The actress caught their attention for both her talented potential and the fact she had cerebral palsy.
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At the time, Geri made history as the first person with a disability to ever feature on a prime-time sitcom. She also made the role her own and appeared in several episodes between 1980 and 84. However, ultimately the producers later decided that her time on the show would come to a natural end after this.
Geri Jewell: Now
While Geri Jewell may live with a disability, she has really proved to be an inspirational figure around the world and has done everything to make the most of her situation. So after leaving the show, she continued to pursue a career as a stand-up comedian and eventually a motivational speaker.
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Geri also appeared in other hit shows such as The Young and the Restless in 2004 and became a series regular on the HBO show Deadwood. She has also since released an autobiography and received many awards for her inspirational work.
Alex Rocco: Then
Alex Rocco was a recurring character, who continued to appear as Jo’s dad, Charlie Polniaczek throughout the seasons. Although he only actually appeared in 11 episodes, he was already an established actor.
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If he looks familiar to you, it’s because Alex Rocco was already well-known for his roles in blockbusting movies, including The Godfather where he landed the role of Moe Greene. His other acting credits include shows like The A-Team and St. Elsewhere.
Alex Rocco: Now
So for Alex Rocco, even though the Facts of Life sitcom came to a natural end, he was never really short of acting opportunities. He continued to gain international acclaim for his performances and even scored an Emmy Award for his role as Best Supporting Actor on the movie titled, The Famous Teddy Z.
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Since then, Alex enjoyed a glamorous acting career and worked alongside some of the biggest names in Hollywood, from Jennifer Lopez and John Travolta to Tom Hanks. His last role was in the movie Don’t Sleep before he sadly passed away in 2015.
Roger Perry: Then
When the producers decided to write John Lawlor out of the script after season one, they eventually searched for a replacement headmaster. Luckily for Roger Perry, this helped pave the way for him to land the role of Charles Parker.
Although Roger Perry played the recurring role of headmaster in the sitcom, he actually only appeared in ten episodes. Nevertheless, he still managed to deliver some of the most memorable lines, including, “You know there are parents here whose names I’ve only seen on checks? And I’ve been getting angry phone calls from them all week. They are furious I allowed those books to be removed from the library. I mean Edna, they hate me.”
Roger Perry: Now
Before Roger Perry landed the role of the headmaster in the prime-time sitcom, he was already an established actor, with many credits to his name. So after Roger left the show, it turned out that this would be one of the last acting roles of his career.
When the sitcom ended, Roger appeared on another hit show, Falcon Crest. However, he has since fallen off the acting radar. Nevertheless, his wife, Joyce Bulifant has jumped into the limelight as a game show contestant. Most recently, the couple were both honored for the respective careers and awarded with Golden Palm Stars.
Jami Gertz: Then
Although Jamie Gertz played more of a guest role in the sitcom, rather than being part of the main cast, there’s no doubt that she made her presence felt with every appearance. Fans may remember her for playing the part of Boots St. Clair, as really did make a stand-out performance.
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Jami Gertz was spotted for her talent by the creator of the show Norman Lear, after doing a talent search. She had also appeared on a few episodes of the parent show, Different Strokes, before being cast in this spin-off sitcom, the Facts of Life.
Jamie Gertz: Now
After Jamie left the show, she continued to work on some of the most successful sitcoms ever produced. Some of her acting credits include top shows like Ally McBeal, Entourage, ER and recently starred in an episode of Hulu’s Difficult People.
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Aside from acting, Gertz also made a transition into the world of business and has established herself as quite the businesswoman. She also owns shares in the MLB team, the Milwaukee Brewers with her husband.
Marj Dusay: Then
While Marj Dusay only graced the set of the Facts of Life for eight episodes, she still managed to make an impact as Blair’s mother Monica. Although the show was generally designed to be light, comedic and upbeat, Marj added a more serious element to the show.
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Marj was already an established actress before she was cast in the role of Monica, so it’s not surprising that she made her presence felt and was one of the most memorable guest stars on the show.
Marj Dusay: Now
Aside from her guest appearance on the Facts of Life, Marj Dusay has continued to enjoy a long and fruitful acting career. She is well known for her leading role on another daytime TV soap, called Guiding Light, and was later recognized for her performance in 1995 received an Emmy award.
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Marj also continued to appear on many top shows like All My Children and Days Of Our Lives. In 2009, when the show Guiding Light came to an end, she took some time away from the acting spotlight.
Jenny O’Hara: Then
Fans may remember Jenny O’Hara from the first season of the sitcom, where she played the role of Miss Emily Mahoney. Although she made her comedic presence felt, sadly she was another character who was caught up in the casting cuts after the opening season.
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Although Jenny O’Hara only starred in four episodes, she was already an up and coming actress. Before she was cast in this role, she had already appeared in shows and had some movie credits to her name.
Jenny O’Hara: Now
Thankfully, even though Jenny had an early exit from the sitcom, this didn’t stop her from continuing to enjoy a successful acting career. The talented actress has since worked on numerous high profile projects, including the award-winning movie Mystic River.
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In addition, Jenny has continued to grace the sets of many hit shows, from Beverley Hills 90210 and ER to King of Queens. Most recently she starred in American Housewife, Chicago Fire, and The Fosters.
Ryan Cassidy: Then
Ryan Cassidy was born into an acting dynasty. As the youngest sibling of the famous Cassidy clan, it’s fair to say he was born with star quality and destined to be a talented star. So when he landed the role of Kevin Metcalf in the show, he made quite an impact.
Brian Cassidy appeared in four episodes on the Facts of Life and most would agree that the on-screen chemistry with Blair was impressive. Although he only made a brief guest appearance, we’re sure he won over many fans of the show.
Ryan Cassidy: Now
While Ryan Cassidy gained quite a fan following for his appearance on the Facts of Life, it was later that he had a change of heart and decided acting was not for him. So he later turned his attention to other passions.
John later worked in showbiz, but on the other side of the camera lens. He ended up working in art departments with numerous studios. This meant he had the chance to work on the sets of many hit shows, from The King of Queens and JAG to Muppets Tonight and Good Luck Charlie.
Juliette Lewis: Then
Another familiar face to grace the show was none other than the Hollywood starlet, Juliette Lewis. She appeared in the final season of the Facts of Life as Terry Rankin. Interestingly, the producers saw the star potential of Juliette and originally wanted her to be the leading star in another spin-off show.
Although Juliette was clearly a talented actress, after just two episodes they decided that the idea wouldn’t work. Still, they kept Juliette in the show for more episodes because she still managed to make her presence felt.
Juliette Lewis: Now
Although Juliette might have been a little disheartened that she didn’t land her own spin-off show, soon enough her fortunes turned around. In 1991, she landed a breakthrough role in the Martin Scorsese thriller, Cape Fear.
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Juliette was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for her performance and from there, her career went from strength to strength. She has since cemented her career as a Hollywood A-Lister and starred in high-profile movies and TV shows like My Louisiana Sky and Hysterical Blindness.
Scott Bryce: Then
When Scott Bryce joined the show in the final season, he was cast by the producers as the love interest of the main character, Jo. The producers wanted to smoothly transition all the main characters from high school into adulthood, and this was one way for them to help bring the story to a fitting close.
When Scott met Jo, she was coming to the end of her high school years, and the producers wanted to show her maturing into a young woman. So when she became romantically involved with Scott, he could help offer a more mature perspective on life.
Scott Bryce: Now
After Scott helped provide a fitting ending for the show, he went on to enjoy a long and impressive career. Some of his finest performances include the movie As The World Turns, which he starred alongside Meg Ryan.
Scott was nominated for two Daytime Emmy Awards for this movie, and he also continued to appear in many hit shows, including Law and Order.
Dawn Gregg: Then
When Dawn Gregg first landed the role of Jenny, it came at just the right time. Evidently, while the producers had been quick to cut many talented characters from season one, they later realized that they wanted to add some fresh new faces to the cast.
The producers searched for some new characters to help bounce off the main characters, and Dawn Gregg was considered the perfect fit. Although she only appeared as a minor role in the show, she still made quite an impression on the cast.
Dawn Gregg: Now
Although Dawn Gregg had great acting potential, after she left the Facts of Life, she didn’t follow the same path as most of the other cast members and slowly slipped off the Hollywood radar for a while.
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One of the reasons may have been because she turned her attention starting a family, and brought five children into the world. Amazingly though, after 25 years she returned from the acting wilderness and began working again in many aspects of film making. She has actually since turned her talents to writing, producing and directing.
Eve Plumb: Then
When Eve Plumb first made a guest appearance on the show, she was already well-known in the industry and was a pretty recognizable actress. She had originally shot the limelight as Jan Brady on The Brady Bunch.
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So when fans found out that she would be making a two-episode cameo on The Facts of Life, it was a big deal. It was also pretty transitional for Eve, as she may have found it hard to shake off the type-cast of a Brady star and move onto other acting roles.
Eve Plumb: Now
Eve Plumb grew up in the limelight, and due to the success of her role on the Brady Bunch, she was able to become a homeowner at the tender age of 11. She purchased her first home for $55,000, and it is actually now worth around $3.9 million.
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After she left the Brady Bunch, made a few guest appearances, including The Facts of Life and still continue to work in the industry and enjoy a successful acting career. Some of her other credits include The Super Mario Bros Super Show, Law and Order, Army Wives and Blue Ruin.