BORN: Charlotte Rae Lubotsky, April 22, 1926, in
DIED: Sunday August 5th 2018 at 4:30pm, in Los Angeles
California, she was 92.
Tony and Emmy nominated actress, comedienne and
singer, Charlotte Rae passed away in her Los Angeles home, surrounded by
family, on August 5th, 2018. Charlotte began her career on the radio and at the
Wauwatosa Children's Theatre at the age of 16. For nearly a decade, she was the
wise housemother of four girls at a boarding school, and to millions more
watching their televisions, on the hit series, The Facts of Life.
She shared advice on the challenges of growing up while she struggled privately
with a developmentally disabled son. This and her other personal struggles,
well as triumphs and a deep humanity found their way into the episodes of the
sitcom as she pushed the show-writers to keep things real and tell stories
that might inspire teenagers and their parents.
Charlotte was the
middle daughter of Esther Ottenstein and Meyer Lubotsky, Russian Jewish
immigrants who settled in Milwaukee. Charlotte came of age during the Great
Depression and the Second World War. Her older sister, Beverly had a brief
career as an opera singer and her younger sister, Miriam co-wrote several
musicals and for many years has performed as a singer and pianist at various
venues in and around Dallas. Charlotte was a part of the Northwestern
University's renaissance of theater and music and comedy along with many great
creators and performers of her generation; she spent many crazy
days and nights in Evanston and New York cavorting with
roommate, Cloris Leachman, comedy partner, Paul Lynde, and other rising stars of
the late 40's and early 50's.
Her career spanned more than sixty
years, beginning in the New York Cabaret scene of the early 50's. She
performed standup and special material at the Village Vanguard, Blue Angel, and
other legendary night clubs and then appeared live on the Ed Sullivan Show,
Playhouse 90, and other classics of the small screen. She played The
Twitcht and other iconic comic television roles on the Phil Silver's Show and
created the role of Sylvia Schnauzer on TV's classic, Car 54 Where Are You?
Her career in the theater included numerous roles on
Broadway stage as well
as Shakespeare in the Park and Summer Stock. She earned the respect of peers,
admiration of fans, multiple Tony Award nominations, and had a rich array of
experiences with some of the great actors of her generation. Her work on the
small screen included a year with the Muppets on Sesame Street, as well as
seasons on the ground-breaking Hot L Baltimore, Rich Little's variety show and
then a season on Different Strokes on which she created Mrs. Garrett who spun
off into the iconic house mother on The Facts of Life, a hit show that
earned her an Emmy nomination and launched the careers of writer/director Paul
Haggis and international star George Clooney.
and off-screen, Charlotte's life was a rich mixture of joy and heartbreak that
included a 25 year marriage to and creative partnership with legendary
composer and music editor and supervisor, John Strausswith whom she had two
sons, Andy Strauss (who died in 1999) and Larry Strauss with whom she wrote her
memoir, The Facts of My Life, in 2015.
Charlotte is survived by her
sister, Miriam Guten as well as son, Larry, his wife, Eleanor Strauss,
grandchildren, Sean Strauss, Carly Fox and her husband Ethan Fox, and
Nora Sidoti Magdol and her wife Katrina Sidoti Magdol and their
daughter Louisa Sidoti Magdol. Private and public services are yet to be
announced. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made
to the, The Actors Fund, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (Pan-Can) or the Clare
Approved photos available upon request.
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or call 626.296.3757