You probably forgot these 16 celebrities appeared on 'The Facts of Life'
Clooney! Zsa Zsa! Fabian! El DeBarge! McGyver!
The Facts of Life just about neatly lines up with the Reagan era. Kicking off in the tail end of 1979, the sitcom captured the shifting pop culture (and hairstyles) of the Eighties, up until its final episode in 1988. The show's fashion, color palette, music and "very special episodes" are all a capsule of the time.
The same goes for the cast. Celebrities from earlier decades as well as young rising stars turned up on the show, alongside Tootie, Blair, Natalie and Jo. Those core characters of The Facts of Life carried throughout the nine seasons, as the girls grew from adolescent boarding school students to women running a pop culture shop called Over Our Heads.
When you think of the show today, you most likely remember teenagers in their Eastland School uniforms. But The Facts of Life went through significant changes over the years.
Originating as a spin-off of Diff'rent Strokes, this family sitcom took a while to find its feet. Naturally, the cast of Diff'rent Strokes popped in for a ratings boost. Here are some other famous actors who appeared in the series.
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It's easy to forget some famous faces played recurring characters on The Facts of Life, as they mostly showed up in the first or later seasons. None of them are bigger than George Clooney, before E.R., long before his days as a Hollywood power player. His handyman George Burnett appeared in 17 episodes in the seventh and eighth seasons.
Speaking of the seventh and eight seasons, it was a span of great upheaval for the show. Charlotte Rae (Mrs. Garrett) left the series after season seven, as her character married and moved to Africa to join the Peace Corps. "We Are the World" must have really hit her hard. Enter Beverly Ann, Mrs. Garrett's divorced sister, played by Cloris Leachman. She oversees the girls as they get a handle on running the Over Our Heads shop.
Flash back to season one. There were a slew of additional characters, from a headmaster and teacher, to a handful of other kids. John Hughes' teen muse Molly Ringwald played the chirpy Molly Parker, showing Tootie that two can wear a bowl cut. At the end of the first season, the show ranked as NBC's lowest-rated series. Back then, that did not spell death. Instead, the network retooled the show, axing much of the cast, including adorable little Molly.
Oscar, Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning actress got her big break on TV as a child star on Swiss Family Robinson in 1975. Five years later, she had matured enough to play a bad seed on "The Facts of Life," a pothead in an early "very special episode" about bongs and peer pressure. Her character unsuccessfully tries to get Blair and Sue Ann to spark up in "Dope."
The Facts of Life attempted to spin-off a surprising number of sitcoms. Six of them, in fact. Near the end of its run, the show pushed even harder with several backdoor pilots. In the penultimate tale, "Big Apple Blues," Natalie heads to Manhattan, where she crashes with a motley crew of hipsters in a Soho loft, which looks a bit like an unkempt version of the Friends set. David Spade plays the quick-talking de facto head of the apartment. It was just the future Saturday Night Live cast member's second role, after a Police Academy film.
Alongside Spade in "Big Apple Blues" was Greico, the hunky soon-to-be star of 21 Jump Street and Booker. Continuing the Friends analogy, because there were stark similarities in these concepts, if Spade was Chandler, than Greico was the Joey.
Richard Dean Anderson
Rewind to season two, and the episode "Brian & Sylvia" was attempting a charming spin-off. Tootie journeys to Buffalo to visit her Aunt Sylvia, who is married to Richard Dean Anderson. Yes, Tootie's uncle is MacGyver. The interracial couple were planned to get their own series, which never came to fruition.
If you can't get Michael, Jermaine Jackson is the next best thing. Presumably, Tito, Jackie and Marlon were too busy to appear in "Starstruck."
Another titan of '80s R&B turns up in "Doo-Wah," when the girls audition to be backup singers for El DeBarge. At the time, he was flying high off the success of the DeBarge family hit "Rhythm of the Night," setting up his first single "Who's Johnny." Both songs were Top Five hits.
Rolling back the clock on the Billboard charts, "62 Pick Up" featured former 1950s teen idols Bobby Rydell and Fabian.
The series finale gave one last go at setting up a spin-off, this time with Blaire taking over the school. A fresh batch of teens entered the scene, including Juliette Lewis.
The once all-girls boarding school had an influx of wild boys, too, for its finale. Seth Green, best known for the Austin Powers films, played the punkish leader of the crew. Alas, this new concept also failed to make it to series.
Feig is best known for his work behind the camera, as the creator of Freaks and Geeks and director of summer popcorn flicks like Spy and Ghostbusters. Early in his career, he was playing a "Freak and Geek" himself in "The Ratings Game," wearing a propellor beanie.
Zsa Zsa Gabor
Fabulous as always, here is the glamorous Gabor in "Bought and Sold." Her character, Countess Calvert, owns a line of cosmetics, which Blair sells.
Blair, Blair, Blair! It's not easy being the sister to a popular, pretty blonde. But Eve Plumb was used to it, having played Jan Brady. In the two-parter "Best Sister," Plumb turns up as Blair's sister, an inspiring nun.