Lew Irwin Reports
116 N. Robertson Blvd/Suite 606
Los Angeles, Ca 90048
213-657-1272




This was a radio program hosted by Lew Irwin that featured a popular entertainer every day.
On Monday and Tuesday, April 16,17 of 1984 he interviewed Charlotte Rae.
She talked about how people gets her confused with Mrs. Garrett and also how the show has helped other people with their situations.

Download the 4 min 29 sec interview. (2.9 Meg)
Or below is the transcript for your viewing pleasure

Back to the Charlotte Rae Web Page.


Irwin:

Charlotte Rae figures she was fortunate that her show, "The Facts of Life", went on the air nearly five years ago instead of now. Today Charlotte suggest, it might not have lasted more than two minutes. Charlotte Rae began portraying her character, Mrs. Garrett, on "Diff'rent Strokes" nearly seven years ago. Two years later Mrs. Garrett was the leading character in a spin-off, "The Facts of Life", and she has remained with us ever since, like a favorite aunt who has taken residence int he guest room. And Charlotte Rae realizes that if "The Facts of Life" had gone on the air in 1984 it might not have survived.

Rae:

Because you can take wonderfully talented actors, wonderfully talented writers and producers, and uh, do a wonderful show! And if it doesn't hit with the public in two minutes it's bye-bye.

Irwin:

Indeed, new tv sitcoms are rarely allowed to remain on the air for more than six weeks if they are not an immediate ratings hit. But it took some time before the public could take Mrs. Garrett and the other characters on "The Facts of Life" into their hearts. Now says Charlotte Rae ...

Rae:

I gotta say that when I walk down the street or I'm in the market or I'm in my car and there's a truck driver next to me and they give me the thumbs up sign and they say we love you, it's so lovely. It's just kinda a bonus. I mean where do you get paid for entertaining people and also be given all of these wonderful warm strokes, along with it. It's beautiful! Uh, yes I think they do love us. I really do.

Sometimes they'd come right over and hug me. Ya know, teenagers, or even twenty-year olds. They'd say, "may I hug you?" I'll say, "Of course..."

Irwin:

But it takes time to build that kind of a relationship with an audience. Viewers of "The Facts of Life" developed their affection for Mrs. Garrett over the course of watching her attend to the crisis around her during many episodes of the series. Not the first six. Nowadays, Charlotte Rae receives thousands of fan letters ever month ...

Rae:

They ask for advice and uh, so on, Oh yea, their uh, they seem to love Mrs. Garrett. Even a little three year old and six year olds like Mrs. Garrett and I can't understand ... uh ... But I guess they relate to her. Isn't that sweet?

Irwin:

But Of course Charlotte Rae is not Mrs. Garrett. She's an actress playing the role of Mrs. Garrett. And sometimes she has difficulty explaining that to people.

People continually confuse Charlotte Rae with Edna Garrett, the character she portrays on "The Facts of Life". And in fact, there are time when Charlotte does too. Charlotte Rae clearly loves to be recognized. She especially like the kind of recognition she receives. Some people even wanted to hug her. Never-the-less, she often wonders who the people she encounters really are relating to, herself, or the character she has portrayed for nearly 5 years on "The Facts of Life", Edna Garrett.

Rae:

And then when little kids or people say, especially little kids, if they say, "Hi Mrs. Garrett ..." I'd say, "Oh that's the part I play on tv. I'm an actress. I play that part of Mrs. Garrett. But my name is Charlotte." Ya know, I want them to be able to distinguish between fantasy and reality.

Irwin:

But there are times in Charlotte's own life when fantasy and reality merge. Like after a recent dinner party at her home. When she looked at the dirty dishes and the disarranged rooms and began about thinking about cleaning up the mess.

Rae:

I was so tired. I really didn't want to do it. And I said, "Now what would Mrs. Garrett do?" Alright! And I played Mrs. Garrett cleaning up. And playing the role of Mrs. Garrett, I got things done in ship-shape in no time at all.

Irwin:

But most of the time Charlotte Rae says ...

Rae:

I have to keep reminding people that I am not Mrs. Garrett. Mrs. Garrett is more together. She is much more organized. Not I ...

Irwin:

And Charlotte Rae realizes that she has affected peoples lives as Mrs. Garrett. And that are times it just doesn't make any difference whether people perceive her as her character or as herself.

Rae:

When I was on a cruise a couple of years ago, this woman said to me, "Charlotte, when you talked about Natalie being adopted ..." she said, "we are adopted parents" and she started to cry. She said we saw it with our child and she did not know she was adopted and it opened up the whole dialog with her. I mean it just gave me chills to believe that we were an instrument to help a family.

Irwin:

And it didn't matter that Charlotte's family, the one that helped, was make believe, and the other woman's family was real.