You take the good…
You take the bad…
I have to tell you, when it comes to classic television sitcoms, there’s nothing quite like The Facts of Life. It tackled issues of the day, and had an amazing cast. The series ran for nine seasons, and is now celebrating it’s 35th anniversary.
To celebrate the anniversary of the series, Pinky, Scotty, Susan, Keith, and I made awesome shirts. They were done by the girls of Rainbow Alternative and rock. Seriously, when I saw them I was blown away!
Most of the original cast reunited at the Paley Center for a fun evening of memories, stories and more. Charlotte Rae, Mindy Cohn, Lisa Whelchel and Nancy McKeon got together to pay tribute to the series that has captivated audiences.
“I don’t think any of us realized how much impact at the time it had on people,” said Charlotte Rae. “But we’re getting the message now.”
Charlotte Rae is planning a book about her life and time on the show. Which I can’t wait for.
Watching the cast, you could clearly tell that they cared about each other and the series that started it all for them. Seeing the girls interact was the best part of the evening for me.
“My favorite episodes are when we could have an adventure, the four of us,” said Mindy Cohn. “Like the paint episode, anything where it was just us.”
“I like all the broad comedy, I prefer that. Too much drama, too real. I don’t want to do there in life. I think my favorite episode was where Jo handcuffed herself to Blair.” said Lisa Whelchel. “I like the big broad comedy.”
“It’s life. It was our job, but we had a life.” Said Nancy McKeon, “We were so young, when your 14 to your early 20’s on the show, puberty and just… If you think about those times in your own lives, the growth that you had and everything you went though, hormones, experiences, relationships, losses, there was so much going on. Actually, going to work was such a relief. The headrest thing we had to do, was find the funniest way to tell a story. What a joy. It was extraordinary.”
“Obviously, I did not peak in high school!” Said Mindy Cohen, “Personally, there were a couple years there I had a challenging time because you want to look cute and everyone is going to see you and you get egocentric about it.”
“And yet the box set is coming out!” Said Nancy McKeon.
“If we were making Friends money, we would be on season 17!” Interjected Cohen.
Some of the stories were so fun to hear. Seriously, it was just a blast to be in the room.
Facts of Life had so many awesome guest stars, it seems like everyone in the 1980s appeared on the show.
“I love Charro!” Said Mindy, “That was just a kick in the pants. If you were working in the 1980s, you did an episode on the Facts of Life.”
“Alex Rocco.” Said Nancy, “My dad number two. He’s extraordinary. I just saw him a day ago. I have to give credit to the writers. They wrote those scenes. I so enjoyed working with him.”
“Molly Peacock” Said Charlotte Rae, “She was a national treasure. Such wonderful stories came out of it. She played Natalie’s Yiddish grandmother.”
And what about George Clooney, who appeared as George the handyman for two seasons on the show.
“I am all for repressed memories, but why would I repress that one.” said Lisa, “I was doing an interview and they asked what was it like to kiss George Clooney. I said well, I don’t know he was the handyman and we were just friends. They said, oh no you kissed him, I said I think I would remember that. I pulled it up on youtube and Blair was pretending to be his Fiance and comes in and lays one on him. I’ve since watched it several times.”
“Casey Siemaszko, he was my first kiss ever. On the show and in life.” Said Mindy, “I think it was the Bates Academy episode. Casey and I… Yes.”
And what about Facts fandom.
“They always want a hug and you know it was so funny. Some very sophisticated actors, you wouldn’t believe it, but they wanted a hug from Mrs. Garrett.” Said Charlotte Rae.
“From me, they don’t want much.” Said Mindy. “People will recognize me and smile. It’s the greatest thing in the whole world to engender that. In foreign countries too. I can see that look. It’s lovely.”
“They usually say, you look a lot thinner in person. “ Said Lisa. “I’m also much shorter. I’m only 5’3 but I got to wear heels on the show. I don’t have the money, I don’t have the accent and they say…. Oh, I don’t want anything from you!”
“People are just lovely.” Said Nancy, “They always want to know about Lisa. We were all saying the same thing. It’s just such a privilege to have someone come up to you and be so kind. They always want to know about Lisa, but they say Blair.”
Then as a surprise out comes Geri Jewel who of course played Cousin Geri on the series.
The audience q and a was nice, for the first time and too many q and a’s to count I asked a question. When I stood up everyone loved the shirts and Lisa even commented that she saw them on Twitter!
I asked about the transition from Edna’s Editables to Over Our Heads and why they changed the store at that time.
Lisa said, well of course the store burned down! And Mindy remarked that New York and Los Angeles had a lot of Kitschy stores like that cropping up and they producers wanted to make it hipper… Because you know, it’s Peekskill!
After the q and a the normal rush to the stage ensued.
It was a little more chaotic than I thought, I did manage to get to Lisa who signed my Lunchbox and vintage 1982 TV Guide.
Then I headed down and talked to Charlotte Rae for a second. She signed a photo I had and the TV Guide as well. She was adorable.
Mindy Cohen signed on my other side, but sadly I didn’t get to talk to her at all.
Nancy saw me and said, “I love those shirts!” She signed my lunchbox and then the TV Guide, remarking that, “I have one of those too!” Love her. Then she signed my cast photo as well.
I did manage to get a photo with Nancy, but sadly it’s a bit of a flop. Doh!
All in all, it was literally an amazing night, one that I won’t soon forget.
Until next time kids…
Share on Facebook