The Facts Of Life: then & now

Wait until you see what Nancy McKeon (Jo Polniaczek) looks like today.

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The Facts of Life ran for nine seasons during the golden age of television. It was one of the most successful spin-off series of all time, spawning from Different Strokes, and revolutionized the coming of age concept before the Brat Pack dominated the last half of the 1980s. The show followed Mrs. Garrett and her group of young, prep school girls, who struggled with the changing decade, their personal and family lives, as well as their education. Today, the show is a great American classic and is revered by all who watched it loyally.


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Actresses Lisa Whelchel, Kim Fields, Mindy Cohn, Nancy McKeon and Charlotte Rae were the stars of the show, that went through a serious metamorphosis between season one and season two, at which time many of the cast members were changed and the storyline went through a major shift as well. The girls each were very different and represented a different kind of teenage angst to deal with. Mrs. Garrett was their caretaker and confidant who was on the show for most of the seasons until her own storyline was ended due to Charlotte Rae’s desire to leave the show at its height.

The show had a massive following in the ’80s when it was on the air, but continued to gain more and more viewers as the years went on and the show went into syndication. Today, there are still channels that will show reruns of the show and introduce the Blair, Tootie, Natalie, Jo and Mrs. Garrett to a whole new generation. We were there to grow up with the girls on screen and see their characters develop as they grew older and more mature. For those of us who were watching the show as it was being filmed, it was like growing up with them.

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Charlotte Rae | Mrs. Garrett – Then

Iconic actress and Hollywood star Charlotte Rae played Mrs. Garrett on The Facts of Life. In the show’s first season, she was the house mother to seven girls who attended Eastland Prep School and by the second season, she was caring for only four. While her character began as a simple caretaker for the group of teenage girls, she quickly transformed into their mother away from home and taught them many valuable lessons in education, love, and ultimately, life. For her role as Mrs. Garrett, Rae earned herself an Emmy.

Today, Charlotte Rae is alive and kicking at 90 years old, though she has retired from acting. Before retiring, Rae starred in Ricky and the Flash, alongside Rick Springfield, Kevin Kline, and Meryl Streep, as well as Love Sick Love and You Don’t Mess With the Zohan. The veteran actress had also tried her hand at voice over work and can be heard in animated features and shows including Noah’s Ark, Itsy Bitsy Spider, The Brothers Flub, 101 Dalmatians: The Series, and the videogame Red Dead Redemption.

Kim Fields | Tootie – Then

Kim Fields played the incomparable Tootie, known for her rollerblades and perky optimism. What most fans of the show don’t know, is that Kim Fields was asked to roller blades on the show not because of Tootie’s love for them, but because at the age of ten, she was too short for the role. Some of the most interesting plot lines surrounding Tootie are the ones that address social injustice and racial bias in 1980s society. As the only African-American female on the show, Kim Fields often found herself scripted in these storylines.

Kim Fields | Tootie – Now

After The Facts of Life, Kim went on to star in Living Single from 1993 until 1998. Afterward, she decided to pursue a different career and venture down the education avenue – She got her degree from Pepperdine University in California and continues to work in the entertainment industry as a director at Nickelodeon. Fields also competed in the reality tv competition, Dancing with the Stars, and starred on The Real Housewives of Atlanta for one season.

Molly Ringwald | Molly Parker – Then

It’s not common knowledge that Molly Ringwald was an original cast member of The Facts of Life. She was cast as Molly Parker in the show’s first season, only to be written out of the script by the time season two started filming. Allegedly, Molly wasn’t too thrilled with being cut from the show but as the world has seen, it appears as if she’s gotten the last laugh…

Molly Ringwald | Molly Parker – Now

In the ’80s, Molly was a part of the Brat Pack, a group of young actors who dominated teen films and coming of age flicks until the ’90s. She’s famous for her starring roles in The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Pretty in Pink. Molly continued a career in film after the ’80s but eventually, fell out from the spotlight by the new millennium. She had a supporting role in Secret Life of the American Teenager and did, however, make a big-screen comeback in films like King Cobra and Raising Expectations. In 2007, Molly married her second husband and they have three children.

Cloris Leachman | Beverly Ann – Then

At the end of season six, fans of The Facts of Life had to say goodbye to Charlotte Rae as Mrs. Garrett. Fortunately for us, Rae’s good friend and equally talented actress, Cloris Leachman stepped in to fill the coveted role of house mother. Leachman played Beverly Ann, who previously owned a shop that the prep school girls used to visit in their free time. Mrs. Garrett was written out of the show respectively, the storyline stating that she traveled to Africa.

Cloris Leachman | Beverly Ann – Now

Throughout her successful career, Cloris has won 8 Primetime Emmy’s, a Daytime Emmy, and an Academy Award. Since The Facts of Life, Cloris made numerous appearances on the sitcom circuit, popping up classics like The Beverly Hillbillies, Daisy May Moses, Raising Hope, and Malcolm in the Middle. She also competed on Dancing with the Stars! Old age? What old age? Cloris Leachman obviously doesn’t know the meaning of such a concept.

McKenzie Astin | Andy Moffett – Then

McKenzie Astin played Andy Moffett on The Facts of Life, joining the cast of the young age of 12. From 1985 until 1988, Andy was the troublemaking, neighborhood kid who was constantly coming up get rich quick schemes. One of his longest running gags was walking into Edna’s Edibles and begging Mrs. Garrett for a job. We gotta admit, at least this kid wanted to learn how to make his own money!

McKenzie Astin | Andy Moffett – Now

These days, you might’ve seen Astin on tv shows like Lost, NCIS, Psych, House, and Grey’s Anatomy. He’s starred in a few big-screen productions as well, such as The Evening Star, The Last Days of Disco, and Wyatt Earp. Formerly, Astin has works as the Director of the Johns Hopkins University Theatre Arts Program. You know what they say – those who can’t do, teach!

Julie Anne Haddock | Cindy Webster – Then

Julie Anne Haddock is one of the remaining members of the original cast that was cut from the show on our list. During season one, Julie played Cindy Webster and delightful as a character she was, she just didn’t make the cut when the writers opted for a new storyline direction. She was, however, brought back in seasons two and three for a couple of guest appearances.

Julie Anne Haddock | Cindy Webster – Now

After Julie departed from The Facts of Life in 1986, she made a serious life decision; the former child actress decide to leave acting and entertainment behind to start a family and focus on more personal goals. Today, Julie lives in California, raising her children with her husband and singing at the local church. She’s active within the religious community and in a Facts of Life DVD commentary, she describes how she dedicates her time to church-associated charities.

Sherrie Austin | Pippa McKenna – Then

For 15 episodes during its final season, Sherrie Austin played Australian exchange student, Pippa McKenna. In real life, she was a pop singer and Australian actress who agreed to join The Facts of Life cast for its final run. As it turned out, the character of Pippa ended up becoming quite acquainted with the character of Andy; together, they worked on Andy’s get rich quick schemes.

Sherrie Austin | Pippa McKenna – Now

After The Facts of Life ended in 1988, Sherrie returned to her budding music career. She was the front woman of 90’s band, Colohaus, and after touring Australia left the band to move to the United States. In 2003, her single ‘Streets of Heaven’ debuted at the top of the Billboard Charts, although, the hit was a one-hit wonder for Sherrie. The former actress is still working on new music has released 3 albums over the last 15 years.

Geri Jewell | Geri Tyler – Then

After Norman Lear, one of the show’s producers, saw Geri Jewell perform a comedy skit at the Media Access Awards, he immediately wanted to cast her on The Facts of Life. She was a permanent cast member from 1980 until 1984, as the character of Geri Tyler. Geri made television history as the first person with Cerebral Palsy to be featured and star on a hit sitcom in the 80’s.

Geri Jewell | Geri Tyler – Now

Geri still acts today and trust us, she performs to stick to what she knows best – comedy. You’ve probably seen her on more television shows than you realize; she’s appeared on The Young and the Restless, Alcatraz, Strong Medicine, 21 Jump Street, Glee, and Deadwood. She’s also had roles in films like Two of a Kind and The Night of the White Pants.

Mindy Cohn | Natalie Green – Then

Mindy Cohn was offered a spot as a cast member on The Facts of Life during its pre-production stages but not because she auditioned for any part in particular. Charlotte Rae and the show’s producers were doing some prep and research for the spin-off at a real school when Rae ran into a young, Mindy Cohn going about her day. Rae was immediately captivated by her spunky attitude and asked for the show’s creators to develop the character of Natalie Green specifically for her. On the show, Natalie’s perception of body image and positivity was a recurring theme.

Mindy Cohn | Natalie Green- Now

Once The Facts of Life ended, Mindy went on to guest star in shows like 21 Jump Street, Charles in Charge, and The Help. In 2002, she began doing voice over work for Scooby-Doo as Velma Dinklet until 2015. In 2010, she made her big-screen debut in Violent Tendencies and continues to make surprise appearances in hit, modern sitcoms that include Hot in Cleveland, Secret Life of the American Teenager, and The Middle.

Mayim Bialik – Then

Who remembers that Mayim Bialik was on Facts of Life? Don’t feel bad if you don’t recall. Mayim was on the show on the very last season and the last two episodes of that season too. Here we see a young Bialik in 1988, very excited to be in the public eye and working as an actor. The last two episodes of the show were meant to be groundwork for a spinoff show that never ended up happening.

Mayim Bialik – Now

Today, Mayim is one famous lady. It’s thanks to her role as Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory that she has catapulted into a new area of fame. She plays a Neuroscientist and the better half of the very geeky and smart couple that is Amy and Sheldon. Art imitates life with Mayim, in real life she holds a PhD in Neuroscience! Also, you may recognize Mayim from Blossom.

Alex Rocco | Charlie Polniaczek – Then

Alex Rocco played Charlie Polniaczek, Jo’s father, on 11 episodes over a span of seven seasons. Since the actor was only occassionally called to the Facts of Life set, he also appeared on other shows like Return to Horror High, Lady in White, P.K. and the Kid, The A Team, Murder She Wrote, St. Elsewhere, and The Golden Girls. For a fairly obscure actor, Rocco was able to snag minor roles on a long list of favorties and television classics.

Alex Rocco | Charlie Polniaczek – Now

In 2015, Alex Rocco died at the age of 79 of pancreatic cancer. He is fondly remembered for his role as Moe Greene in The Godfather and the large collection of voice over work he did for shows like The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Disney/Pixar’s A Bug Life. In his career, he was rewarded with an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

Roger Perry | Charles Parker – Then

From 1981 until 1983, Roger Perry played Charles Parker on The Facts of Life for a total of 10 episodes. He was often seen showing up at the girls’ house to speak with Mrs. Garrett and in doing so, he dropped one of the most famous short monologues of the series; “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 | Charles Parker – Now

After his run on The Facts of Life, Roger Perry settled down in Palm Springs, California with his wife, Joyce Bulifant. It was his first marriage and joyce’s fourth. Together they have children and were presented with their own Golden Palm Stars on the Walk of Stars in Palm Springs. In terms of his professional acting career, he mainly held parts in made-for-tv movies and made minor appearances on shows like The Fall Guy and Falcon Crest. He also had a part in major motion pictures which include Operation Warzone and Wreckage.

Marj Dusay | Monica Warner – Then

Marj Dusay played Blair’s mother, Monica Warner, on eight episodes throughout the series run. Her character added depth to the usually spoiled and seemingly shallow Blair, addressing many mother-daughter issues that are relatable to viewers and their own family dynamic at home. Marj first appeared on The Facts of Life as Monica in 1981 and made her final appearance as Blair’s mom in 1987.

Marj Dusay | Monica Warner – Now

Marj Dusay’s career entered the soap opera genre after her time on The Facts of Life and it remained quite successful for many years to follow. From 1993 until 2009, she played the role of Alexandra Spaulding on Guiding Light. From 1999 until 2002, she also played the role of  Vanessa Bennett on All My Children. She became a staple in the dramatic world of soap operas and is now mostly recognized for these two roles.

Jenny O’Hara | Emily Mahoney – Then

Jenny O’Hara was known as Emily Mahoney on The Facts of Life and had a recurring role during the show’s first season on air. She played the part of Mrs. Garrett’s comical sidekick, presenting an off balance comedy routine that ping-ponged back and forth between the two characters. If Jenny O’Hara sounds like a familiar name to you, it must be because of her lengthy stage career. In the 1970’s, she was offered the opportunity of a lifetime when she replaced her sister in a play she had previously auditioned for…

Jenny O’Hara | Emily Mahoney – Now

Jenny O’Hara’s career kicked off after the 80’s. Today, she’s a widely received television and film actress who has appeared in The Mindy Project, Transparent, Costello, Dangerous Minds, and The King of Queens. Additionally, Jenny is a happily married woman, to British-American actor Nick Ullett, 2 adult daughters. For a few good throwbacks, some Jenny O’Hara movies to watch on your next day off would include Mystic River, Extract, and 2010’s Devil.

Seth Green – Then

Much like Mayim Bialik, Seth was also on the last two episodes of Facts of Life and was meant to be a part of the spinoff that never came to fruition. A very young Seth landed the role of Adam Brinkerhoff but it was a very brief time as the character. Seth started his acting career a few years before he was on Facts of Life but not that much earlier, this was one of his first roles.

Seth Green – Now

Seth is a much cooler dude these days. We remember him best as the best friend side kick on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as well as the wicked son in the Austin Powers films. His television credits continued to thrive with his appearances on That 70s Show and Entourage. His latest gigs have been in voice roles as well as directing, writing and producing roles.

Ryan Cassidy | Kevin Metcalf – Then

Ryan Cassidy, who also happens to be the younger brother of David Cassidy, was given the role of Kevin Metcalfe in the show’s sixth season during 1985. The role of Kevin was specifically created around Ryan Cassidy’s image at the time and to the producer’s surprise, he was fairly liked by The Facts of Life fanbase. His 5 episode-run on The Facts of Life was enough to deem him a “teen heartthrob” for the remainder of the ’80s.

Ryan Cassidy | Kevin Metcalf – Now

After his stint on The Facts of Life Ryan opted for a career behind the camera. He tried his hand and therefore, discovered his passion, within the realm of set designing; he’s responsible for the artistic and design aspects of popular 90’s shows like The Secret World of Alex Mack, JAG, and Muppets Tonight. He’s also worked behind the scenes on Good Luck Charlie and The King of Queens.

Juliette Lewis | Terry Rankin – Then

Before Juliette Lewis became a critically acclaimed actress, she was best recognized for her tole as Terry Rankin on the final season of The Facts of Life. Her character was introduced to set the stage for a Facts of Life spinoff but unfortunately, production plans for the show’s follow-up fell through before the pilot could shoot. Regardless of her canceled plans, Juliette went on to pursue a successful acting career in iconic films that would help make her mark on Hollywood in no time.

Juliette Lewis | Terry Rankin – Now

Today, Juliette is an Academy Award-nominated actress with a long list of accolades that directly contributed to her success. In 1991, she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars for her supporting role in Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear. She has also starred in films such as What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Other Sister, Whip It, Catch and Release, and August: Osage Country. On the small-screen, you can catch Juliette in reruns of My Name is Earl, Wayward Pines, and The Firm.

Scott Bryce | Rick Bonner – Then

In the final season of the show, Jo and her fiance, Rick Bonner, tied the knot amongst their family friends. Played by Scott Bryce, Rick was a temporary character who only appeared in 4 episodes but was a necessary element during this pivotal time of the show; a time when all of the girls grew into women and shaped their own careers, love lives, and futures.

Scott Bryce | Rick Bonner – Now

Today, Scott Bryce is still working in the entertainment industry, behind the scenes and on camera. After playing Rick on The Facts of Life, he went on to appear in shows such as Who’s the Boss?, The Golden Girls, Murphy Brown, and LA Law. His film credits include Lethal Weapon 3 and Up Close and Personal. More recent productions that he has been involved in are Deception, Blue Bloods, and The Good Fight.

Dawn Gregg | Jenny – Then

From 1982 until 1985, Dawn Gregg appeared as Jenny in three different episodes of the show. The role of Jenny was a minor one but by the time she had joined the cast on the rare occasion, the original group of girls were downsized from 7 members to 4. Dawn Gregg subtly added the missing ingredient within the group’s lackluster dynamic that held developed over the course of the final seasons. At least for Dawn Gregg, her brief experience on The Facts of Life wouldn’t be the end of her career in the entertainment industry.

Dawn Gregg | Jenny – Now

Since the 80’s, Dawn has tried her hand at producing and screenwriting, as well directing. She’s become a commercial success in the documentary and short film genres, primarily specializing in the latter of the two. She took a prolonged hiatus from acting until she made an understated comeback in 2012, appearing in one of her own short films. Now, Dawn is also a loving wife and dedicated mother to 5 children.

George Clooney | George Burnett – Then

Yes! George Clooney was a cast member, very briefly, on The Facts of Life. He played George Burnett, Mrs. Garrett’s handyman, and appeared on 17 episodes throughout seasons seven and eight. On the show, George’s character had a kissing scene with Blair, played by Lisa Whelchel, and the actress can’t remember it. We don’t know about you, that’s probably an experience every young, teenage girl might want to stick in her longterm memory vault.

George Clooney | George Burnett – Now

We don’t really need to tell you where George Clooney is now but hey, why the heck not? Today, George is a massively rich, hunky, beloved, international actor. Does that cover it? After years of claiming eternal bachelor status, he finally married the love of his life, Amal Clooney, and the couple are now expecting twins. He’s also an Academy Award-winning actor with an impressive filmography to boast about. The list includes his breakout role in ER, the opportunity to play Batman for Tim Burton, and he’s a part of the ensemble cast of Ocean’s Eleven.

John Lawlor | Steven Bradley – Then

John Lawlor played the Headmaster of the girls’ prep school in season one of The Facts of Life. Lawlor played the role of Steven Bradley for one year, from 1979-1980, before being cutting just before the second season, along with four other female cast members. The producers decided that the show was only in need of one authority figure and obviously, Mrs. Garrett was the supervisor they were always going to keep.

John Lawlor | Steven Bradley – Now

It was a mighty good thing that John Lawlor was cut from The Facts of Life because in return, he landed roles on many successful tv shows that garnered him much respect and well-deserved attention. He went on to play parts in Knots Landing, L.A. Law, Barney Miller, Mr. Belvedere, Ellery Queen, The Rockford Files, Alice, and Baa Baa Black Sheep. In Breaking Bad, he played the role of Locksmith.

Eve Plumb | Meg – Then

Eve Plumb’s guest spot on The Facts of Life was short-lived but it was a big deal for anyone who grew up watching The Brady Bunch. in 1983, she was introduced as Meg in two episodes during the mid-series run. The Facts of Life wasn’t the only show she was making guest appearances on, though. She also surprised audiences on episodes of Love Boat, Murder She Wrote, Wonder Woman, and eventually, That 70’s Show.

Eve Plumb | Meg – Now

Eve continued acting well into the 2000’s, starring in shows such as Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Law and Order, Days of Our Lives, and Army Wives. She’s also a talented painter whose artwork can be seen across the United States, prominently displayed in galleries and at show exhibitions. Recently, Eve gained headline attention for selling her home for $3.9 million, which is an astounding difference from when she first purchased it at the age of 11 for $55,000.

Felice Schachter | Nancy – Then

In season one of The Facts of Life, Felice Schachter played Nancy. Sadly, Felice was one of the five cast members cut from the show after the first season, along with Molly Ringwald, and had to pursue her career elsewhere. Allegedly, Felice was one of the first girls to be removed from the show, even with the on-screen appeal she had that attracted audiences to the show.

Felice Schachter | Nancy – Now

Following her season spent on The Facts of Life, Felice went on to star in Zapped! alongside Scott Baio. Afterward, like many child stars of her time, she decided to step away from the spotlight and work behind the camera. By now, she has worked as a production and director’s assistant, in both industry films and national television commercials. The former actress spent years on the production teams of shows like Law and Order, High Tide, JAG, The Citizen, and 30 Years to Life.

Jami Gertz | Boots St. Clair – Then

Jami Gertz was a special guest star on The Facts of Life for a number of years, playing the role of Boots St. Clair. Boots was the best friend of Blair who beckoned at her every cal and gave her advice when she needed it most, even though, it wasn’t always the wisest words of wisdom. Gertz also had minor roles on other popular tv shows of the time such as Dreams, Family Ties, Different Strokes, and For Members Only

Jami Gertz | Boots St. Clair – Now

In 1987, Jami Gertz became an official teen queen after the release of The Lost Boys and went on star in films such as Twister, Jersey Girl, and Dealin’ with Idiots. On television, Jami has made more than just a name for herself; she was the family matriarch on Still Standing, had a recurring role in ER, and can currently be seen on the hit tv-show, This Is Us. Jami is also one of the richest women in the world today, as her and her husband, Antony Resslet, have ownership in the same investment group purchased by the Milkwaukee Brewers baseball team.

Lisa Whelchel | Blair Warner – Then

Lisa Whelchel, who played the role of Blair Warner on The Facts of Life, was one of the few cast members who remained on the show from start to finish. Initially, Blair was typecast as the spoiled, narcissistic rebel who was firstly and primarily concerned with herself and what she wanted. By the time the second season had rolled around, the character of Jo was added to the script and Blair was written as a more compassionate and understanding character… even though, she was still a rich brat sometimes.

Lisa Whelchel | Blair Warner – Now

Aside from a few made-for-tv movies, Heart of Spring, A Snow Capped Christmas, and For Better or For Worse, Lisa’s decision to pursue singing ultimately changed the course of her career forever. In 1984, the devout Christian and dedicated mother, released a Christian music album and was nominated for a Grammy in 1984 after the release of her spiritual hit, ‘All Because of You.’ Lisa has also made a few rounds on the reality tv circuit and competed in Survivor: Philippines, where she came in second place.

Julie Piekarski | Sue Ann Weaver – Then

Julie Piekarski was already a child star before she landed the role of Sue Ann Weaver on the first season of The Facts of Life. She was a Mouseketeer from 1977 until 1978, before joining the Facts of Life cast. However, Julie was one of the 4 prep school cut from the show before the second season started shooting. She did make an appearance in a a much later season, reprising her role if only for a moment.

Julie Piekarski | Sue Ann Weaver – Now

Julie continued to act following her time spent on The Facts of Life and made appearances in Three’s Company, The Best of Times, and Quincy M.E. Then, she made a career change and became a local entertainment reporter for KPLR-TV, in St. Louis, Missouri. Today, Julie is married to her husband, John Probst, and they share three children together. Although her acting career was cut short, her experience on The Facts of Life meant the world to her, as she still cherishes the opportunity until this day.

Nancy McKeon | Jo Polniaczek – Then

Nancy McKeon played the token tomboy on The Facts of Life. Jo Polniaczek was the counterbalance to Lisa Welchel’s portrayal of Blair and added a unique, edgy flare to the house of young girls who were otherwise, generally “girly.” Modern, loyal fans of the show could argue that Jo was the 1980’s prototype of a feminist, who did eventually, soften her edges and show her more vulnerable side as the series progressed.

Nancy McKeon | Jo Polniaczek – Now

Nancy’s career has been moderately successful as the former child star continues to balance a successful career in television and raising a family. In 2003, she married her longtime boyfriend and the married couple now have two children together. She’s starred in multiple made-for-tv films including Comfort and Joy, A Cry For Help: The Tracey Thurman Story, and The Wrong Woman. Nancy can also be seen in supporting roles on the Disney’s Sonny with a Chance, as well The Division, starring as Jinny Exstead .

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