With an astonishing run of 210 episodes, the beloved TV series, The Facts of Life gave true insight into what it was like to transition from girlhood to womanhood. The show resonated with generations of teens across the world and was lauded for its traditionally “taboo” ideas such as adolescence and promiscuity.
But what made it really special, was the truly unforgettable cast. Curious to see what they’ve been up to forty years later? Take a look at your favorite stars then and now.
Charlotte Rae – Then
Known for her portrayal of Edna Garrett in both Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life, Charlotte Rae essentially mothered the girls at Eastland prep school, taking on the roles of housekeeper and caretaker. If not for Charlotte, The Facts of Life wouldn’t have even been made into a show!
The Facts of Life gave Rae her best-known role, as it became increasingly more popular and won the ratings, and hearts of America.
Charlotte Rae – Now
In 2001, after the big reunion, Rae shed light on some of the realities of working in the television industry. She revealed on Entertainment Tonight that the producers kept a scale off the stage to weigh the girls and threaten them to lose weight. “It’s not the way you handle adolescence. You don’t do that.”
In 2015, Rae made one of her final appearances on the screen, in film Ricki and the Flash. She will be remembered for her character which broke down social barriers, as well as for her personal presence within the industry.
Lisa Whelchel – Then
Playing the gorgeous, snobby and rebellious Blair Warner, at just 14, Welchel had the looks and the dollars! Seen smoking cigarettes, drinking underage and being chased by boys, she was the stereotypical ‘bad girl’.
After the first season, Blair’s character was tweaked depicted her as a spoiled “Daddy’s Girl. We bet it would’ve been a difficult time in her life, what with growing up right before the eyes of the nation!
Lisa Whelchel – Now
Known for her great faith, it’s no surprise that Lisa Whelchel forged a career that was closely affiliated with her Christian beliefs. Producing a Christian music album in 1984 (which, by the way, was nominated for a Grammy Award!), she enjoyed some success as a musician.
Whelchel has since found strengths giving inspirational talks at churches and conferences. In2004, she founded Momtime Ministries which was designed to help mothers after having children and raising them.
Kim Fields – Then
Born in Harlem, New York, Kim Fields landed her first acting gig at the age of 5, on Sesame Street! It wasn’t until 1978 however that she really gained some recognition, after scoring the role of Tootie Ramsey on Diff’rent Strokes.
Her character gave a very real insight into how kids dealt with real-life issues such as racism and inappropriate behavior towards children.
Kim Fields – Now
After her time on The Facts of Life, Fields had a five-year gig on the TV show Living Single which took her through the 90s. Sure, she was involved with The Facts of Life reunion and various interviews, however, she decidedly moved on with her career and life.
After graduating from university, Fields went on to direct, and in fact, has directed several Nickelodeon shows. After Fields left the series Living Single, she also dabbled in rap music and R&B and even released an album, called Smooth is Spoken Here.
Julie Piekarski – Then
With her first big break in the industry as a Mouseketeer on The New Mickey Mouse Club, Piekarski was destined to be an actress. Following her popularity working for Disney, Piekarski was cast as Sue Ann Weaver on the NBC sitcom The Facts of Life from 1979-1981.
Piekarski, however, was among those who were culled from the show when the network decided to reboot the series. Whilst she appeared occasionally over the seasons, and in a reunion, her time with the show was short!
Julie Piekarski – Now
After she was let go in 1981, Piekarski deciding to take a short break from acting. So she put on her best newsreader voice and dabbled in entertainment reporting for KPLR-TV in her hometown, St Louis, Missouri.
She’s taken a back seat these days, now married to dentist John Probst. The pair have three wonderful children and returned to Piekarski’s hometown, living in St Louis!
Mindy Cohn – Then
Apparently, the crew visited an all-girls preparatory school Cohn was attending at the time, in the research phase of preparing for the show. Rae was so impressed with Cohn’s personality that she convinced the producers to create a role that reflected the real Mindy Cohn.
Despite the fashion at the time to be thin and scrawny, Cohn was on the fuller side, pushing the message that all girls are beautiful no matter their shape or size. This reassured those girls watching, and US audiences.
Mindy Cohn – Now
Following a number of TV shows, including guest appearances in Charles in Charge, 21 Jump Street, The Help and later The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Mindy’s other famous role came about. She was Velma Dinkley of the Scooby-Doo franchise.
Cohn is a strong supporter of the LGBTI community, even going as far as to label herself as a “fag hag” – you do you boo!
Molly Ringwald – Then
Ringwald's role in the show was short but sweet. Appearing as Molly Parker during the first season of the show, the character was cut after producers decided to overhaul the show and its direction.
Whilst she was disappointed to be let go so soon, she was certainly destined for success regardless of how long she spent on the show!
Molly Ringwald – Now
After Molly was axed from the show, that was exactly the moment that her career took off. Ringwald quickly became a teen star throughout the 80s; think Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink – absolute classics! With her trademark red hair and pink pout, Ringwald was a sensation, and admired by all the boys! (and girls too, we’re sure!)
She even ranked number 1 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Teen Stars! In recent times, Ringwald appeared in a number of films, as well as in 2018 starring in the popular Netflix film, The Kissing Booth.
George Clooney – Then
A bit of a latecomer onto the show, next up is Hollywood A-lister, George Clooney. First appearing on The Facts of Life during season 7 of the show, Clooney portrayed the amiable (and obviously very handsome!) handyman George Burnett.
We really cannot get over that shocking hair-do – but we guess that was just the fashion at the time…really slick! The cheeky handyman even stole a kiss from Blair Warner on the show! He was clearly a bit of a ladies’ man from the very beginning!
George Clooney – Now
With a name that carries more weight than anything else, George Clooney is just one of those names that everyone knows. With a reel of successful films, Clooney has paved quite the career. Also dabbling in directing and producing.
Sadly, however, he is indeed off the market. Whilst it took a while, it was certainly well worth it, finally marrying the glamorous, intelligent (and did we say glamorous?) Amal. The pair recently welcomed twins into the world.
Cloris Leachman – Then
With a career spanning seven decades, garnering eight Primetime Emmy Awards and an Academy Award, Cloris has a certain charm that is shared by only the best in the industry. Making her debut in season 7, Cloris, playing Beverly Ann, had humongous shoes to fill, replacing the legendary Edna Garrett.
Beverly Ann was to be the new caretaker of the girls, as well as a businesswoman. We love the fact that even in the 80s producers weren’t afraid to portray women as successful and entrepreneurial! In a typical Charlotte Rae move, the actress hand-selected Cloris to be her replacement, assuring producers that she was the right fit…and she was, of course, right!
Cloris Leachman – Now
The 92-year-old is fighting fit, and looks absolutely amazing for her age! After her time on The Facts of Life, she went on to appear in films such as A Troll in Central Park, Now and Then, Spanglish, New York, I Love You and The Croods.
We feel almost rude for not acknowledging the fact that Leachman has over 200 credits to her name. We’re absolutely flabbergasted! She’s certainly the busy lady, and we think she’s got the tenacity (and wit of course) to keep her career going!
John Lawlor – Then
Another one of our ‘short and sweet’ The Facts of Life stars, is John Lawlor. Playing the role of Headmaster Steven Bradley on the series, sadly, the character of Steven Bradley was axed during the show’s rejigging between seasons 1 and 2. Four other girls were also ousted from the show, including Molly Ringwald as we saw earlier!
Due to Mrs. Garrett’s commanding presence and role on the show, the producers felt that the character of the Headmaster was redundant.
John Lawlor – Now
Lawlor has starred in a number of series’, including the hit series Breaking Bad. He also enjoyed a number of film roles, appearing in National Lampoon’s Movie Madness, S.O.B., Billy Jack Goes to Washington, The Gumball Rally, Wyatt Earp and Mr. Fixit.
More recently, Lawlor has starred in series Godless. Indeed, good stuff, Lawlor!
Felice Schachter – Then
Felice began her career in show biz in 1978. But her big break came in 1981 when she was cast as Nancy Olson on The Facts of Life. The producers also kept her in mind and cast her in the spin-off!
She appeared in 19 episodes, however, also was subject to the brutal culling of actors from the series after the first season. But as they say, when one door closes, another opens, as was the case for Felice Schachter.
Felice Schachter – Now
After her role on The Facts of Life didn’t quite work out, Felice was snapped up real quick, starring as Bernadette in the cult film Zapped! Opposite Scott Baio.
She did however still have ties to the show, making guest appearances over the next five years! However, she found more success in production. She’s since worked on film and TV projects including JAG, The Citizen, Law, and Order:SVU, and 30 Years to Life.
MacKenzie Astin – Then
Holding the role as Andy Moffett over four seasons of The Facts of Life, between 1985 and 1988, comes Mackenzie Astin. Andy became somewhat part of the furniture, after one day wandering into Edna’s Edibles seeking a job. The rest is history!
Ever opportunistic, little Andy was always looking to make some money, as well as make an impression on the girls! He sure was a bit of a fan favorite, and even won a Young Artist Award for his role on the show in 1986!
McKenzie Astin – Now
Alas, they can’t stay that cute forever, and Mackenzie is now married and in his 40s! He certainly left the small screen behind, with roles in major motion films including Wyatt Earp, The Evening Star (alongside Shirley MacLaine) and The Last Days of Disco.
During the filming of The Evening Star, Mackenzie was involved in an accident that saw the top edge of his ear lost! He was then fitted with a prosthetic for continuity in the film!
Julie Anne Haddock – Then
A child actress at age 10, Haddock is known for her portrayal of tomboy Cindy Webster. Sadly, she became a victim of the show’s restructuring. and appeared in seasons two and three.
The producers’ excuse for axing characters like Cindy is owing to the fact that they wanted to “change the direction” of the show. Perhaps it was the right move in the end.
Julie Anne Haddock – Now
Not a fan of the spotlight, Julie now lives in California, enjoying the sun with her lovely family. She’s also found a deep spirituality, with a love for singing in church!
She hasn't done much acting, though. In 2008 however, Haddock was reunited with former co-stars. Aside from raising her family, Haddock is quite the philanthropist, filling her days with work for charitable causes.
Sherrie Austin – Then
On The Facts of Life between 1987 and 1988, appeared the Australian born songbird and actress Sherrie Austin. With a start in music opening for legendary Johnny Cash in Australia at the age of 14, Austin has deemed a talent and moved to the U.S. to pursue acting.
Her character was an Australian exchange student who appeared in 15 episodes, most often joined at the hip with Andy on his monetary schemes. She was even adopted by Cloris Leachman’s character Beverly Ann and became a sister to Andy!
Sherrie Austin – Now
Austin really dove into her music career and even had a song that was featured on Baywatch in 1992! She released two albums for Arista, and occasionally produced covers, such as a cover of Dolly Parton’s hit “Jolene.”
Her song “Streets of Heaven” in 2003 was a Billboard chart-topper, her biggest country hit to date. However, she didn’t stop there; she pursued Broadway before returning to Nashville and releasing her fifth album in 2011, titled Circus Girl.
Geri Jewell – Then
Producer Norman Lear hand-selected Geri to star on the show following a stand-up performance at the Media Access Awards in 1980. Jewell was the first actor with a disability (specifically, cerebral palsy) who was a fixture to a primetime series.
Jewell looks back on her time on the series and notes that “it did help children get comfortable dealing with a person who has a disability and taught them the value of a good sense of humor.”
Geri Jewell – Now
Today, she is best known these days for her roles on HBO’s Deadwood, Glee, Alcatraz, Strong Medicine, and 21 Jump Street! As far as the silver screen goes, you might have seen Geri on The Night of the White Pants and Two of a Kind.
But at heart, Geri was destined to bring joy and laughter, continuing with her comedic roles, despite her disability. The fact that Geri could laugh at herself, and create infectious laughter against all odds, is a true credit to her and her nature.
Alex Rocco – Then
Taking on the role of the mischievous Jo’s father Charlie Polniaczek is Alex Rocco. It was sort of one of his side gigs because when you’re Moe Greene in The Godfather, you’re definitely going to be in demand as an actor.
In the 70s Rocco appeared in both films and television series, in films including Return to Horror High, P.K. and the Kid, Scenes from the Goldmine, and Lady in White. His other acting gigs include television roles in, St. Elsewhere, The Golden Girls, The A-Team, and Murder, She Wrote.
Alex Rocco – Now
Alex Rocco had a recurring role on The Simpsons as the head of Itchy and Scratchy Studios! He’s also appeared The Wedding Planner, Find Me Guilty, Smokin’ Aces and Scammerhead.
In a nod to his role in The Godfather, Rocco was part of Audi’s R8 ad during the Super Bowl in 2008, which was a tongue-in-cheek yet very clever and successful commercial! However, such is a life that good things come to an end, with Rocco, at the age of 79 passing away. He leaves behind a legacy with his acting credits and his four children.
Roger Perry – Then
After being discovered by none other than Lucille Ball, he was already in the industry for over 20 years!
He was known for his one-liners and for attempting to tame the chaos brought on by the girls!
Roger Perry – Now
After the show, Roger did slow down a little, enjoying life with then-wife Jo Anne Worley. They later split, and he remarried Joyce Bulifant in 2002.
A little-known fact about Perry is that he, in fact, served as an intelligence officer in the United States Air Force during the early 50s! After 16 years with Joyce, Perry was to take his final bow, with prostate cancer claiming him in 2018. Rip Mr. Parker!
Jami Gertz – Then
Discovered on Norman Lear’s talent search, Gertz actually appeared in an episode of Diff’rent Strokes. Off the back of this role, she had a recurring role on The Facts of Life as Blair’s friend Boots St. Clair.
She didn’t appear as frequently as some of the mainstays, but like the other guest appearances and cameos, her role certainly left an impression!
Jami Gertz – Now
Married to billionaire Antony Ressler, Gertz now is one of the wealthiest women on the planet, with a net worth of over $2 billion. Her husband is part of the investment group which was bought out by Milwaukee Brewers.
Whilst there’s clearly no need for cash, she, Gertz has kept herself busy in shows like Ally McBeal, ER, Still Standing, Entourage and This Is Us.
Marj Dusay – Then
A recurring guest on the show, Marj Dusay played the pompous Blair Warner’s mother. While the show was a comedy, Monica held a serious tone, making her the magical ingredient that kept the show balanced between humor and drama,
It spoke to audiences and was not afraid to tackle the many issues teenage girls faced at such a crucial point of their lives; be it crazy parents, body changes, or those pesky boy problems!
Marj Dusay – Now
Born Marjorie Ellen Pivonka Mahoney, she was best known as Alexandra Spaulding on Guiding Light, the 82-year-old carved out quite the career on the small screen.
These days, the actress devotes her time to philanthropic work and enjoying the success of her long career!
Jenny O’Hara – Then
Jenny O’Hara was basically guided along a path that was ultimately going to lead her to a career in showbiz! With a mother who was just as eager as getting on Broadway as she was in pushing her children, the young O’Hara moved to study in New York to be closer to the stage.
Whilst her career began in the early 60s, it wasn’t until after that she’d really get work on not only the small screen but the big screen too!
Jenny O’Hara – Now
We could sit here all day listing her combined 50+ appearances, but we’ll skip through to the highlights reel! You may have seen Jenny on television in Beverly Hills, 90210, Law & Order, ER, Party of Five, NYPD Blue, Nip/Tuck, Grey’s Anatomy, CSI, NCIS, Supernatural or more recently, Transparent.
And we didn’t even mention The Mindy Project, The King of Queens, Big Love, Costello, or Dangerous Minds! Her career has seen her utilize her chameleon-like skills, transforming into a variety of characters and roles, and, believe it or not, O’Hara has done it whilst juggling marriage and two children! What a legend!
Ryan Cassidy – Then
Despite coming from a family with a background in the entertainment industry, Ryan decided to first try his hand at law enforcement before the screen,
He then found himself one year later on The Facts of Life, portraying Kevin Metcalf. With his good nature and good looks, he was a success on the show, despite getting on Blair Warner’s nerves on more than one occasion!
Ryan Cassidy – Now
Throughout the 80s, Cassidy enjoyed some success, however, he decided that he wanted to be behind the lens rather than directly in front of it, switching to work behind the scenes. His first gig was in the art department at Jim Henson Productions.
After more than a decade in this area of the industry, it seems he’s itching to get some scripts in his hands, more recently acting in the stage production of The Family Game for which he enjoyed much praise!
Juliette Lewis – Then
Born in 1973 in Woodland Hills California, this talented cutie began her acting career really young. Her parents both encouraged her creative sensibilities, and as a result she landed her first gig at age 12.
Whilst Lewis was only cast in two episodes in the season, there’s no such thing as bad publicity in the entertainment industry, with the brief stint boosting exposure to audiences and allowing her to book more jobs!
Juliette Lewis – Now
These days, Juliette Lewis is a household name, and an award-winning actress, known for her somewhat eccentric character portrayals in films which are less than conventional! Her role in Scorsese’s Cape Fear truly set her apart from the rest, appearing alongside screen legend Robert De Niro. For this role, she was nominated for an Oscar AND a Golden Globe.
Her filmography includes What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Natural Born Killers, From Dusk till Dawn, The Evening Star, The Other Sister, Whip It and August: Osage. County. She even launched a singing career in 2004, starting a band called Juliette and the Licks, however, has since gone solo.
Scott Bryce – Then
One of Jo’s many but fleeting love interests, Rick Bonner was played by Bryce. Whilst he only appeared in four episodes in 1988, he was part of the season which was the reason so many people watched the show.
The emotional season saw the girls follow the paths they were destined for, and we see that Jo ends up walking down the aisle to Rick Bonner! A truly fitting ending to the show!
Scott Bryce – Now
Scott Bryce’s most famous role is as Craig Montgomery on As the World Turns. Bryce was also on The Golden Girls, Who’s the Boss?, Murphy Brown, and L.A. Law. He’s also popped up in major motion films such as Lethal Weapon 3 and Up Close and Personal Most.
Oh, and not forget one of his greatest accomplishments, his beautiful family- he married Jodi Stevens, with whom he has a child.
Dawn Gregg – Then
Another one of our short but sweet actresses next up is Dawn Gregg. Playing Jenny, Gregg featured in 3 episodes between 1982 and 1985. Producers felt this was a little too much estrogen.
Gregg was part of the ‘secret ingredient’ to the show’s longevity; variety! The range of actors and actresses that stopped by with cameo roles gave audiences a kick each time!
Dawn Gregg — Now
Despite her short appearance on the show, Dawn Gregg still enjoyed a relatively successful career. Having been raised in the entertainment industry from a young age, Dawn had a true hands-on film education.
Gregg these days enjoys working alongside her husband producing and acting in short films. She now lives in the desert and home-school all five of their children!
Eve Plumb – Then
You may recognize this next actress as the middle sister Jan Brady from the iconic sitcom The Brady Bunch. While Her two-episode run in 1983 as Meg was, of course, short, but she certainly brought her star power, especially at a time when the series was at its peak ratings.
The producers certainly had a formula that worked for them, and they stuck with it, injecting a bit of life when the routine got a little tired!
Eve Plumb – Now
Eve was in demand after her role on The Brady Bunch and enjoyed acting, however, she was never to reach the success that she gained from being on the series. Pretty sure there are still re-runs of the show to this day...
Most recently, the actress appeared on the cop-drama Blue Bloods. Despite her enthusiasm for the entertainment industry, Plumb is very fond of painting. Her art graces the walls of a number of galleries across the United States!
David Ackroyd – Then
Now David Ackroyd’s time on The Facts of Life was also rather short, with his role as Major Dorsey only spanning two episodes. You can probably guess that from his title as “Major” that Ackroyd’s character belonged to the neighboring boys’ military school, Stone Military Academy.
The episodes surround the upcoming military dance, to which Jo gets asked by her friend Buzz Ryan. The idea was great and all…but the proposal just didn’t get the approval nor the backing to actually result in a show!
David Ackroyd – Now
Following his appearances on The Facts of Life, Ackroyd has gone on to narrate documentaries including History’s Mysteries and UFO Files: Alien Engineering.
But the Ackroyd train doesn’t stop there! In 2003, he co-founded the Alpine Theater Project — his own acting company, which attracted mentors in Olympia Dukakis, John Lithgow, and Kelli O’Hara!
Mayim Bialik – Then
Mayim Bialik was cast as the vivacious and energetic Jennifer Cole on The Facts of Life for the final two episodes in 1988. Her entrance was in preparation for a spin-off, however, this just wasn’t meant to be!
The show may not have gotten off the ground, but Mayim transitioned from the role into another, playing Frieda in Webster, and later on, starring in Blossom.
Mayim Bialik – Now
Mayim Bialik plays the sassy neurobiologist, originally introduced as Sheldon’s “friend that’s a girl, but not a girlfriend.” Playing Amy is a breeze for Bialik, who has a doctorate in neuroscience. Not only is she talented, but she’s also super smart.
She’s also written two books, as well as founded a site, Grok Nation in 2015 for people of all walks of life to converse on contemporary issues.
Seth Green – Then
Cutie, Seth Green was cast in the final two episodes of The Facts of Life, Green played the role of Adam Brinkerhoff.
With a career beginning in 1984, Green hasn’t dropped the acting ball; during the time he appeared on the show, he was also working on three other roles -Big Business, Divided We Stand and My Stepmother Is an Alien.
Seth Green – Now
Seth has cropped up everywhere over the years since his start on the show, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, That 70’s Show, Entourage and even working on animated shows including American Dad! and Family Guy (did you know he voices Chris Griffin!?).
Seth’s got a multitude of projects always going, and on the backburner; owing to the fact he’s an actor, director, writer, AND producer. He may indeed be doing his daddy Dr.Evil proud by taking over the world with his talent!
Loren Lester – Then
Starting out as a teen in cult classic Rock ‘n’ Roll High School in 1979, Loren Lester showed he had what it took to be an actor. He appeared as Roy for 8 episodes of The Facts of Life between 1981 and 1987.
His role involved heavy interaction with Jo, as the flirtatious delivery boy! He carried this role for 6 years, however of course in between he was busy furthering his career in other ways!
Loren Lester – Now
Lester’s main credit is as the voice of Robin in the animation Batman! He’s also appeared in a number of television shows, including Parenthood, Bones, NCIS, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Desperate Housewives, Cold Case, Criminal Minds and Two and a Half Men!
Lester is also fond of the theater, both acting in, and even writing shows, including Fallen Angels and It’s Magic – The Life. And Music of Doris Day. Seems that the somewhat blasé delivery boy certainly delivered in the entertainment industry!
Nancy McKeon – Then
Where in the first season Blair Warner was the big mouth and did whatever she pleased, producers decided to write these parts of her personality and replace them with the new badass on the block, Jo!
As Jo’s character grew and developed however, her appearance was softened, and she evolved into a more feminine (and subsequently more attractive) character. This was around the time that producers decided it was right to introduce romantic relationships into Jo’s world!
Nancy McKeon – Now
Did you know that she was up against Courteney Cox for the role of Monica Geller on Friends? We’re not sure we can imagine anyone other than Cox playing Monica, and neither could McKeon, who was quoted as saying “the role went to the right person"
Whilst she was traditionally a small-screen actress, she also appeared in films such as Teresa’s Tattoo, The Wrong Woman and Just Write, the role she’s currently filling is that of mother to her two daughters Aurora and Harlow Andrus.
Nicolas Coster — Then
Nicolas Coster was working in show business long before Facts of Life started casting. Having studied his craft in Both England and in the US, his versatility allowed him to act alongside big names such as Elizabeth Taylor (in "Little Foxes") and in big shows such as "The Secret Storm."
So, when he came to Facts of life to play David Warner (Blair's Father), he'd already had quite a distinguished list of credits to his name.
Nicolas Coster — Now
After Facts of life, Coster kept on acting, but mostly stuck to the soap opera circuit with parts in "Another World", "Santa Barbara", "All My Children," and more.
Coster's other passions include philanthropy and scuba diving, which he has managed to combine as the leader and founder of sailing trips and scuba lessons for disabled people.