Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Charlotte Rae Passes On

Charlotte Rae, who played Officer Leo Schnauser's wife Sylvia on the classic sitcom Car 54, Where Are You?, and starred on the shows Hot L Baltimore, Diff'rent Strokes, and The Facts of Life, died on August 5 2018 at the age of 92.

Charlotte Rae was born Charlotte Rae Lubotsky on April 22, 1926 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her family later to moved to Shorewood, Wisconsin. As a teen she worked in radio and at 16 was an apprentice with the Port Players, a local Milwaukee theatre company. She attended Northwestern University in Evanston, University, but did not graduate. She moved to New York City in 1948 and performed in both theatres and clubs.

Charlotte Rae made her television debut in 1951 in an episode of Once Upon a Tune. In the Fifties she appeared on such shows as The United States Steel Hour, Armstrong Circle Theatre, Kraft Television Theatre, The Philco Television Playhouse, The Phil Silvers Show, and Play of the Week. She made her debut on Broadway in Three Wishes for Jamie in 1952. In the Fifties she appeared on Broadway in a revival of Threepenny Opera, The Golden Apple, The Littlest Revue, and Li'l Abner.

In the Sixties she played Sylvia Schnauser on Car 54, Where Are You?. She guest starred on such shows as Way Out, Look Up and Live, The Defenders, and ABC Stage 67. She made her film debut in Hello Down There in 1969 and appeared in the film Jenny (1970). She appeared on Broadway in The Beauty Part; Pickwick; Morning, Noon and Night; and The Chinese and Dr. Fish.

In the Seventies Charlotte Rae played Molly the Mail Lady on Sesame Street and starred on Hot L Baltimore, The Rich Little Show, and Diff'rent Strokes. She guest starred on Temperatures Rising, The Partridge Family, McMillan & Wife, Love American Style, The Paul Lynde Show, All in the Family, Good Times, Phyllis, Barney Miller, Our Town, CPO Sharkey, and Hello Larry. She appeared in the films Bananas (1971), The Hot Rock (1972), Sidewinder 1 (1977), Rabbit Test (1978), and Hair (1979). She appeared on Broadway in Boom Boom Room.

In the Eighties Charlotte Rae reprised her role as Edna Garrett on the Diff'rent Strokes spinoff The Facts of Life. She guest starred on The Love Boat; St. Elsewhere; Murder, She Wrote; and 227. In the Nineties she provided voices for the television cartoon series The Itsy Bitsy Spider, 101 Dalmatians: The Series, and The Brothers Flub. She guest starred on such shows as Baby Talk, Sisters, Can't Hurry Love, and Diagnosis Murder. She provided a voice for Tom and Jerry: The Movie (1992) and appeared in the film Nowhere (1997). From the Naughts to the Teens she appeared in the films You Don't Mess with the Zohan (2008), Christmas Cottage (2008), Love Sick Love (2012), and Ricki and the Flash (2015).  She guest starred on the shows Strong Medicine, The King of Queens, ER, Life, Pretty Little Liars, and Girl Meets World.

I have state here that I have never been a fan of either Diff'rent Strokes or The Facts of Life, but I always thought Charlotte Rae was a wonderful actress with a particular gift for comedy. She was the perfect Sylvia Schnauser on Car 54, Where Are You? and she made many memorable guest appearances over the years. From The Partridge Family to All in the Family, she appeared on a number of different shows.

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