What ever happened to the cast of 'The Facts of Life'?
Find out what Blair, Tootie, Natalie and Jo are up to these days.
Image: AP Photo/Charles Sykes
Being a child star is no cakewalk, according to the stereotype. The pages of 1980s Tiger Beat magazines are filled with Corey cautionary tales. The adolescent actors on shows like Diff'rent Strokes met tragic ends, if they didn't wash out of showbiz.
The Facts of Life refreshingly proves this myth wrong. The sitcom, which was itself a spin-off of Diff'rent Strokes, featured a large cast of young stars. Most of them continue to work today, while others found inspiring careers. Heck, one of them is a Hollywood icon.
So what became of the people behind Blair, Tootie, Jo and Natalie — not to mention Nancy, Cindy and Molly? There's a good chance you might know. Still, they all lived fascinating careers. Let's take a look.
1. Kim Fields
Fields has an entertainment career that goes well beyond sporting enviable hairstyles. In the '80s, she recorded a couple minor dance hits, "Dear Michael" and "He Loves Me He Loves Me Not." Now 48, the former Tootie has notable credits both in front of and behind the camera. After scoring another hit sitcom in Living Single, Fields went on to directing, helming dozens of episodes of the Nickelodeon hit Kenan & Kel. Recently, she has been a reality TV MVP, appearing on both The Real Housewives of Atlanta and Dancing with the Stars.
Image: Bravo / NBC via Giphy
2. Mindy Cohn
With a degree in cultural anthropology from Loyola Marymount University, it's no wonder Cohn voiced a famous brainiac. From 2002 to 2015, she brought life to Velma Dinkley in numerous Scooby Doo cartoons and video games.
Image: AP Photo / Peter Kramer | Warner Bros.
3. Lisa Whelchel
Faith has always been a major part of Whelchel's work, going back to her Grammy-nominated Christian pop record All Because of You in 1984. Today, having founded Momtime Ministries and authored several spiritual books, Whelchel continues to speak on family and faith at conferences. Back in TV land, she appeared on Survivor: Philippines in 2012, keeping her celebrity a secret from other, younger contestants.
4. Nancy McKeon
After portraying the tough and tomboyish Jo on The Facts of Life, McKeon nearly nabbed an entirely different role on a smash sitcom. She was a finalist for playing Monica on Friends — Courtney Cox, obviously, edged her. McKeon continued to act. After a couple failed sitcoms in the '90s, she eventually ended up, in 2009–10, portraying Demi Lovato's mom on the Disney channel series Sonny with a Chance.
Image: AP Photo / Charles Sykes
5. Charlotte Rae
The year 2015 was a busy one for the erstwhile Mrs. Garrett. The beloved veteran actor appeared in the film Ricki and the Flash alongside Meryl Streep, and she released her memoir, The Facts of My Life. Earlier this year, Rae was diagnosed with bone cancer at the age of 91. She previously beat pancreatic cancer.
UPDATE: On August 5, 2018, Rae passed away at the age of 92.
Image: AP Photo/Paul Hawthorne
6. Julie Anne Haddock
Apparently, there was only room in the Eastland School for one tomboy. Haddock's sporty young character Cindy was phased out after the first season. MeTV aficionados might recognize Haddock from a tear-jerking Wonder Woman episode, "The Girl from Islandia." These days, Haddock reportedly lives in California and sings in church under her married name, Julie Anne Becker.
7. Molly Ringwald
We all know that Ringwald's early role on Facts was a mere stepping stone to becoming the muse of John Hughes. The Brat Pack icon continues to score roles that tap into nostalgia. Just this year she turned up on Riverdale, playing the mother of America's most famous redhead, Archie Andrews.
Image: Warner Bros. Television
8. Felice Schachter
Like Haddock, Schachter was written off the series after a significant early role, as the wholesome brunette Nancy Olsen. She later landed a co-starring film role alongside Scott Baio in the 1980s teen romp Zapped! In one scene, the actress purposefully wore a Brown sweatshirt — she ended up attending the Ivy League school. Later, she returned to television, behind the scenes, working as a production coordinator for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. "My job now is to work with children with special needs, especially children with autism. I use Applied Behavioral Analysis to help these children learn social and language skills," she explained in an online interview.
9. Mackenzie Astin
The son of Patty Duke and actor John Astin, and the brother to Goonies and Rudy star Sean Astin, Mackenzie continues to work on television to this day. He's currently playing a magician possesed by an evil god named Reynard the Fox in the Syfy fantasy series The Magicians. It's a long way from playing the cute kid.
Image: NBCUniversal Television Distribution
10. George Clooney
Perhaps you've heard of him?