The Tony- and Emmy-nominated actress appeared on the popular 1980s sitcom “The Facts of Life” for nearly 10 years, sharing her personal struggles with the writers for the show to keep things realistic.
In the early 1960s, she created the role of Sylvia Schnauzer on TV series “Car 54 Where Are You?” She also worked extensively on Broadway, in Shakespeare in the Park and in summer stock.
Rae’s other television work included a year on “Sesame Street,” and a recurring role on “Hot L Baltimore,” then a season on “Diff’rent Strokes,” where her character Mrs. Garrett was born before spinning off on “The Facts of Life,” for which she earned an Emmy nomination.
Todd Bridges, who played Willis Jackson on “The Facts of Life” and “Diff’rent Strokes,” tweeted, “You were loved by everyone on our show.”
Born Charlotte Rae Lubotsky in Milwaukee, she began her career on the radio and at the Wauwatosa Children’s Theatre before attending Northwestern University. She roomed with Cloris Leachman and also befriended Paul Lynde, then she began doing standup comedy in the New York cabaret scene in the early 1950s.
She was married to composer John Strauss, with whom she had two sons. Andy Strauss died in 1999, and she wrote her memoir “The Facts of My Life,” with Larry Strauss.
She is survived by a sister, her son Larry, three grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
Donations may be made to the The Actors Fund, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (Pan-Can) or the Clare Foundation.