The famous 80s television series The Facts of Life is best known for its female cast. It was rare for sitcoms to star as many women back then for men were more dominant during that time. Still, it became one of the most popular shows that produced some of the biggest celebrities we know today.
Lisa Whelchel was 14 when she started playing the role of Blair Warner. Although she was spoiled and rebellious on screen, the singer-actress pursued a career in Christian music after the show ended. She even received a Grammy nominatin for her album All Because of You. Her latest major appearance was winning second place in Survivor: Philippines.
Being the youngest of the main characters, Dorothy Ramsey was portrayed by Kim Fields. She was only 11 when she starred in the show and was the only African-American in the cast. When the show ended, she starred in another series called Living Single for five seasons. That was before she became one of the directors of Nickelodeon’s Kenan and Kel. She also guest-starred in Real Housewives of Atlanta and Dancing With The Stars.
Molly Ringwald was one of those who were dismissed after the first season. However, this made way for many career opportunities that made her one of the iconic stars of the 80’s. She starred in blockbuster films such as The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Pretty in Pink.
Cloris Leachman will always be known as the “replacement” for Edna Garrett as Beverly Ann. However, she turned out to be the actress with the most Primetime Emmy awards. Her superb acting talent also won her an Oscar for her supporting role in the 1971 movie The Last Picture Show.
Yes, George Clooney actually appeared in a number of The Facts of Life seventh season episodes as handyman George Burnett. This was just a minor achievement, though, compared to the roles he got after the show. It was his role as Dr. Doug Ross on ER that actually made him famous. He eventually landed the role of Danny Ocean in the Ocean’s franchise. Also, the Batman star has won two Academy Awards.
Former Disney Mouseketeer Julie Piekarski played the role of Sue Ann Weaver. However, she only appeared in season 1. That wasn’t too bad for Julie though as she was later casted in popular shows such as Three’s Company, Quincy M.E., The Best of Times, and ABC Afterschool Specials. She even became a reporter at KPLR in St. Louis! Now, the actress spends most of her time with her family.
Sherrie Austin only joined the cast in the final season. Despite that fact, her character Pippa McKenna still left a mark. Her Facts of Life stint was the launching pad of her successful career. Not only was she talented in acting, the Aussie star was a singer as well. She performed in the 90s band Colorhaus and ended up reaching the Top 20 country music charts with her solo single “Streets of Heaven” in 2003.
Geri Jewell had cerebral palsy which made her the first actor with disabilities to appear on a television show. She played the role of Cousin Geri but she didn’t really last that long. Nevertheless, she didn’t let this discourage her. She eventually starred in CBS’ The Young and the Restless in 2004 and HBO’s western show Deadwood.
Alex Rocco, who played Jo’s dad Charlie Polniaczek, was one of the recurring characters on the show’s entire run. Although it was only for 11 episodes, he didn’t lose the job until the final season. Before the series, the actor was popular for his appearance in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather. He later won an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Sadly, he died on July 18, 2015.
Roger Perry replaced John Lawlor’s headmaster role by playing Charles Parker after the first season. This is one of his funny quotes: “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.” However, his The Facts of Life stint was one of the final roles of his career.
Known as Boots St. Clair, Gertz appeared on four episodes in the spinoff during Season Five. She also appeared in shows such as Ally McBeal, ER, Entourage and Difficult People. Now, along with her businessman husband, Anthony Ressler, she has some shares with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Being the youngest of a famous family, Ryan Cassidy’s natural talents and looks casted him as Blair’s love interest Kevin Metcalf. However, he only lasted for five episodes. Also, acting wasn’t really in Ryan’s heart so he decided to pursue a career in the art department. He worked for the set of shows like JAG, The King of Queens, The Secret World of Alex Mack, Muppets Tonight, and Good Luck Charlie.
Juliette Lewis, whose character Terry Rankin debuted in the final season of The Facts of Life, was one of the most familiar faces. After her stint, she was casted in Martin Scorsese’s 1991 thriller film Cape Fear as Danielle Bowden. This got her nods for both the Academy Award and Golden Globes. The brilliant actress then starred in My Louisiana Sky and Hysterical Blindness.
Scott Bryce became a familiar face when he played the character Bonner, Jo’s boyfriend as she was finishing high school. This was a perfect sort of an ending as the characters transition into a mature phase. Following the show’s finale, he was casted in the hit show The World Turns, which earned him two nominations for the Daytime Emmy’s. He also appeared in the popular TV series Law and Order.
Mayim Bialik actually started as a child actress. She had a minor role in The Facts of Life and also appeared in the movie Beaches which got her a Young Artists Award. Although her role on the show as Jennifer Cole was only in the last two episodes, she still ended up to be one of the biggest stars from the show. She was later casted as Amy Farrah Fowler on the popular show The Big Bang Theory that gave her three Primetime Emmy nods. Moreover, the actress also obtained a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. How impressive is that?
Another successful actor who began his career as a child is Seth Green. He starred in The Facts of Life as it approached its end as Adam Brinkerhoff. He later appeared in the hit show Buffy The Vampire Slayer and in the Austin Powers movie franchise. His recent gigs include Seth McFarlane’s Family Guy (he’s the voice behind Chris Giffin). Also, Green is the creator, writer, director, and performer of his own animated show Robot Chicken.
Mindy Cohn was one of the young mainstays in The Facts of Life, playing the role of Natalie. She later starred in different movies such as 21 Jump Street, The Second Half, and The Secret Life of an American Teenager. Aside from acting, she also guest-starred in the eight episodes of the Worst Cooks in America where she learned how to wing her cooking.
Mrs. Edna Garrett was The Facts of Life’s iconic main character. She was the housekeeper of Eastland prep school, played by actress Charlotte Rae. After a few acting stints, she starred in her final movie, 2015 film Ricky and the Flash. The respected actress died at the age of 92 in 2018.
McKenzie Astin was one of the lucky ones that survived the Season One makeover. He was 12 years old when he started to play the role of Andy Moffett. He eventually became one of the main characters beginning season seven. The successful actor then later appeared in hit shows like Grey’s Anatomy, NCIS, Lost, Scandal and House.
When the producers had to lay off many actors after the first season, they also had to add in some characters. That’s when Nancy McKeon came in and played the remarkable character of Jo, whom many kids could actually relate to. After a long hiatus following the show’s end, Nancy then starred as Inspector Jinny Exstead in the show The Division.