Friday, August 10, 2018


Originally, today's Friday Hall of Famer was going to be someone with a name similar to our final choice and in keeping with this month's showcase for TV Westerns.  Unfortunately, we had to switch from an honorary induction to a memorial induction....

From the LA Times:
Charlotte Rae, the actress best known for her role as Mrs. Garrett, den mother to a group of rambunctious teenage girls on the long-running 1980s sitcom “The Facts of Life,” has died at 92.

Spokesman Harlan Boll said Rae died Sunday at her Los Angeles home. A cause of death was not immediately provided, but she was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2017.

And so we're going to honor the memory of Charlotte Rae with this memorial tribute to her character of Edna Garrett Gaines.

From Wikipedia:

Edna Ann Garrett Gaines, known as Mrs. Garrett or Mrs. G, was played by actress Charlotte Rae from 1978 to 1986.

Garrett was the youngest child in a large family, born and raised on a farm near Appleton, Wisconsin. Her exact age was never disclosed during the series, but on several occasions, it was hinted or implied that she was somewhere in her fifties. On 'Diff'rent Strokes', she was the housekeeper to the Drummond family in New York City after Willis and Arnold's mom Lucy (the Drummonds' original housekeeper) died. In 1979, she took a job as house mother at the Eastland School for Girls in Peekskill, New York (Kimberly Drummond attended Eastland).

Over the years, Mrs. Garrett's role on 'The Facts of Life' changed. At first she was merely a live-in supervisor for the girls of Eastland; in the second season she became their in-house dietitian who managed the school's cafeteria.

Garrett was married twice, divorced (first marriage), and widowed (second marriage); one early episode showed Mr. Garrett coming to town to woo her and reconcile, but he was unsuccessful because Edna felt that his gambling problem would always be an obstacle.

Edna Gillin and her son Raymond
She had two sons, a singer/songwriter/carpenter named Alex (Tom Fitzsimmons) (born 1953) and an accountant named Raymond (Joel Brooks). Raymond helped her raise funds and secure commercial space so she could open her own gourmet food shop, "Edna's Edibles", in the fall of 1983. The girls, who had previously lived with Mrs. Garrett at Eastland, and worked with her in the kitchen to pay off various restitution-related expenses (see below), moved into the living space attached to "Edna's Edibles" and continued to work for Mrs. Garrett in the shop (this time on the payroll).

In the fall of 1985, "Edna's Edibles" was extensively damaged by fire; it was rebuilt as a gift shop called "Over Our Heads." Since the insurance on "Edna's Edibles" had lapsed by the time of the fire, the girls contributed their insurance claim checks to help rebuild, effectively making Mrs. Garrett and the girls equal partners in the business.

Edna Garrett was a mentor to the girls at Eastland, functioning in loco parentis. At times the girls would take her for granted, and forget that Edna herself had problems. Many times Edna would lash out at the girls when they got careless with her. In one episode, she actually fires them from "Edna's Edibles" when their irresponsible behavior ends up costing her $500 in fines after a dismal health inspection. She hires them back the next day when the girls promise her that they will be more responsible at their jobs. She also fires George, when he falls behind on his work constructing "Over Our Heads," but they later make up. Mrs. Garrett is a Democrat. She is also against censorship, such as book banning.

Mrs. Garrett remarried in 1986. She and her new husband, Dr. Bruce Gaines (Robert Mandan), rejoined the Peace Corps to work in eastern Africa. (Charlotte Rae did not want to continue with the series). Edna was replaced by her sister, Beverly Ann Stickle (Cloris Leachman). However, in the reunion movie that aired in 2001, Mrs. Garrett reunited with the three girls (Blair, Natalie, and Tootie) at a hotel owned by Blair and which was run by Mrs. Garrett's son Raymond. It was also revealed that Mrs. Garrett and Tootie were widows. It's revealed that she was in a romantic relationship with a ship captain.

Mrs. Garrett also appears on the 'Hello, Larry' episode "The Trip", the first of three crossovers between 'Diff'rent Strokes' and 'Hello, Larry'.

In an episode of 'Halt and Catch Fire', a man fencing computers refers to married mother Donna Clark (played by Kerry Bishé) as Mrs. Garrett, in reference to her conservative appearance and critical opinion of him.

(O'Bservation: Following the Toobworld mantra, Mrs. Garrett and the girls of Eastland were deemed worthy enough to have a TV show made about them.  "The Facts Of Life" has been referenced in 'Mama's Family', 'The Golden Girls', 'Gilmore Girls', 'The Nanny', Wonderfalls', 'Step By Step', and 'Newhart' - which actually means it was Dr. Bob Hartley who had seen the Toobworld version of 'The Facts Of Life',)

Here are the shows (and movies) in which we saw Mrs. Garrett:

Diff'rent Strokes

37 episodes

From the IMDb:
Phillip Drummond, a widowed Manhattan millionaire and president of the mega-firm Trans Allied Inc., adopts two African American orphans from Harlem, 8-year-old Arnold and 12-year-old Willis. Drummond had made a promise to their dying mother, his housekeeper, that he would care for the boys after she passes away; their father had died years earlier. Also part of the family were Drummond's beautiful daughter, 13-year-old Kimberly; and his no-nonsense housekeeper, Edna Garrett. As the years passed, Mrs. Garrett left to become housemother at the Eastland School for Girls. 

Mrs. Garrett with two other Hall of Famers:
Arnold Drummond & Muhammed Ali

Hello, Larry

- Thanksgiving Crossover: Part 2
- Feudin' and Fussin': Part 2 (1979) 

O'Bservation: She was given credit in these episodes, but was not actually seen.  I'm assuming she was at least mentioned.  But she does meet Larry Alder in the crossover episodes for "The Trip" which established Larry's character for the spinoff.)

The Facts of Life 

155 episodes

From the IMDb:
A group of girls attending a boarding school experience the joys and the trials of adolescence under the guiding hand of housemother Edna Garrett. Later in the series, Mrs. Garrett is promoted to school dietitian, and four of the girls move into new quarters above the cafeteria. Eventually she leaves the school and opens her own business, with help from her girls.

The Facts of Life Goes to Paris
(TV Movie)

From the IMDb:
The girls and Mrs. Garrett head to Paris. The girls are going to spend some time in the French counterpart of their school while Mrs. Garrett attends a cooking school. The girls were hoping to spend some time in Paris but find themselves stuck in the countryside with a strict guardian.

When they discover that their last week of school will be spent in Paris, they plan to sneak away and discover the city on their own. Jo decides to go to Le Mans and meets a French boy, Blair encounters a local of her own, while Natalie and Tootie run into an author that Natalie admires. When they discover that he is struggling with writer's block, they decide to help him with his article. Meanwhile, Mrs. Garrett is struggling to trying to impress the French Chef in charge of the class.

'The Wonderful World Of Disney':
"The Facts Of Life Reunion"


From the IMDb:
Thirteen years later Mrs. Garrett's "girls" have all grown into successful, independent women. After a stint in the Peace Corps with her husband, a widowed Mrs. Garrett is heading back to America, ready for a new life and new romance, and also looking forward to seeing the girls again. Blair is wealthier than ever, after building a hotel empire with her husband, Tad. But she suspects he is having an affair. "Tootie," now preferring to be called by her real name, Dorothy, has forsaken her acting hopes to host her own talk show. Natalie is a dedicated TV news producer, juggling an active love life with a frenetic work schedule that takes her all over the world. Jo, ever the free spirit, is a devoted cop, wife and mother. It's been years since Natalie has had a Thanksgiving back in America, so she's talked all the girls and Mrs. Garrett into spending the holiday together back in Peekskill, NY. When Jo is unable to attend the reunion, her teenage daughter, Jamie, and husband, Rick, come instead. They're all in for a surprise when Natalie's not one but two boyfriends unexpectedly show up at the reunion. Trouble soon starts, as both men compete for Natalie's attention and exclusivity, so it's up to the girls to help solve Natalie's predicament.

There's another theoretical connection I'd like to make for Mrs. Garrett: she and her sister Beverly Ann Stickle had a cousin named Sylvia Schwarzkopf. In fact, Edna and Sylvia were that Toobworld staple, identical cousins.  As to why they looked so similar and Beverly Ann didn't... well, I'm not going there.

Sylvia married an NYPD police officer named Leo Schnauser who worked out of the 53rd precinct in the Bronx.  During one (of many) tempestuous squabbles with her husband, Sylvia declared herself no longer married to Leo.  She borrowed a maid's outfit from her cousin Edna so that she could continue living in the same apartment with him, but as his housekeeper.

As far as I can tell, there's nothing that would void that theory of relateeveety.

Good night and may God bless Charlotte Rae.  But thanks to the movies and television, her characters will live on.  And in our small contribution, we've given Mrs. Garrett an added bonus of immortality.


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