Birthday: April 22, 1926
Died At Age: 92
Sun Sign: Taurus
Also Known As: Charlotte Rae Lubotsky
Born in: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Famous as: Actress
Height: 5'0" (152 cm), 5'0" Females
Spouse/Ex-: John Strauss (m. 1951; div. 1976)
father: Meyer Lubotsky
mother: Esther Lubotsky
children: Andrew Strauss, Larry Strauss
Died on: August 5, 2018
place of death: Los Angeles, California
U.S. State: Wisconsin
City: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
education: Northwestern University, University of Southern California, Northwestern University School of Communication, Shorewood High School
Who was Charlotte Rae?
Charlotte Rae Lubotsky was an American actress, comedian and singer. Best known for her portrayal of “Edna Garrett” in the TV show ‘Diff’rent Strokes’ and ‘The Facts of Life’, Charlotte started her career as a stand-up comedian in the night clubs of New York during 1940s. Though she liked performing the stand-up acts, her long-term dream had always been to become an actress. Her first break as an actress came when she was offered a role in Broadway musical comedy, ‘Three Wishes for Jamie’ in 1952. She continued working for Broadway musicals and while doing so, she also released her first song album called ‘Songs I Taught My Mother’ which was composed by her husband John Strauss. Soon she started getting offers to appear as guest star on multiple TV shows and in 1961, she landed her first regular TV show, ‘Car 54, Where Are You?’. She made a comeback to the Broadway arena in 1963 and earned a Tony nomination for her performance in ‘Pickwick’. Her biggest break came when she was offered the role of Edna Garret” in the sitcom ‘Diff’rent Strokes’. Her performance resonated with audience at such a level that her character got a show of its own, ‘The Facts of Life’. She played the role of “Edna Garrett” for 7 years and earned Primetime Emmy nomination for it. After leaving ‘The Facts of Life’ Rae appeared as a guest actor on multiple TV shows and gave her voice to Animation projects such as ‘Tom and Jerry: The Movie’ and ‘101 Dalmatians: The Series’. She released her autobiography titled ‘The Facts of My Life’, in 2015.
Childhood & Early Life
Charlotte Rae was born on April 22, 1926, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Esther and Meyer Lubotsky. Her father had a retail tire business. Rae was second of her parent’s three children. She had an elder sister named Beverly and younger sister named Miriam
After spending her first 10 years in Milwaukee, Rae moved with her parents to Shorewood, Wisconsin. She attended Shorewood high school while doing radio work and working for Wauwatosa Children’s theatre. She graduated from Shorewood high school in 1944
Thereafter, she attended Northwestern University, Chicago. However, she didn’t complete her studies and moved to New York in 1948 where she performed in nightclubs and theatre
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Charlotte Rae’s first break came in the year 1952, when she got a chance to work in a Broadway musical comedy called ‘Three Wishes for Jamie’. Her Broadway journey continued with projects like ‘Threepenny Opera’ and ‘Lil' Abner’
In 1955, Rae released her first album of satirical songs called ‘Songs I Taught My Mother’. The lyrics were written by her college friend and lyricist, Sheldon Harnick, and the music was composed by her husband John Strauss
Though she had been appearing on television through her guest appearances in many famous TV show, her first regular TV show was ‘Car 54, Where Are You?’. However, success still eluded her, so she went back to the Broadway and was soon nominated for Tony Award for best actress for her performance in ‘Pickwick’ in 1965
Rae got her biggest break in 1978 when she was cast to play the role of “Edna Garrett” in a new series called ‘Diff'rent Strokes’. Her character became so popular among the audience that NBC decided to give her own TV show which ultimately became the most successful series of Rae’s career, the series was called ‘The Facts of Life’ and she played the character of “Edna Garrett” for six seasons (1979-1986) until she had to leave the show due to health concerns
Rae’s favorite stage experience came in 1990, when she got a chance to play the character of “Winnie” in Samuel Beckett’s play, ‘Happy Days’. Rae had always dreamed to be a dramatic actress and this role helped her in making it a reality.
In 1992, Rae voiced the character of "Aunt Christine Figg" in ‘The Tom and Jerry Movie’ and later in 1997 she voiced “Nanny” in the TV series ‘101 Dalmatians: The Series’.
Rae continued appearing as guest actor on numerous TV shows and worked in a few TV films like ‘Crime in Connecticut: The Alex Kelly Story’ which was released in 1999.
In 2001, Rae was reunited with her co-stars from ‘The Facts of Life’ to reprise her role of “Edna Garrett” one more time in the TV movie ‘The Facts of Life Reunion’. The movie managed a decent rating of 7.1 and a healthy viewer count of 11.5 million.
Owing to her deteriorating health and old age, Rae’s later career was limited to playing minor roles in movies like ‘You Don't Mess with the Zohan’ and TV series like ‘King of Queens’, ‘Strong Medicine’. Her LASTproject was an American comedy-drama film ‘Ricki and the Flash’ where she worked with Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, and Rick Springfield. The movie was released in 2015.
In November 2015, Rae launched her Autobiography, ‘The Facts of My Life’. She co-wrote her autobiography with her son, Larry Strauss.
‘The Facts of Life’ was the most successful work of Rae’s career and it made her a household name. The show revolved around “Edna Garrett” who works as a housemother at the fictional Eastland School which is an all-female boarding school. The show dealt with important social issues of 1980s like depression, drugs, alcohol, peer pressure etc.
’The Facts of Life’ was ranked as one of the top 10 shows for teenagers in 1988 by ‘USA Today’, an American daily newspaper.
Personal Life & Legacy
Charlotte Rae married music composer John Strauss in 1951. The marriage lasted for 25 years and the couple divorced in 1976 after John came out as a bisexual. The couple had two children, Larry and Andrew Strauss.
In 2017, Rae announced to the world that she has been detected with bone cancer at the age of 91. She had already been detected with pancreatic cancer seven years ago, which was treated through chemotherapy.
She died on August 5, 2018, at the age of 92, in Los Angeles, California.