Thursday, November 05, 2015

SitcomsOnline Book Club Review - The Facts of My Life by Charlotte Rae and Larry Strauss; Bewitched Back on TV Land, While Jeannie Is Out

The Facts of My Life

SitcomsOnline Book Club Review - The Facts of My Life

by Todd

Charlotte Rae's career spans more than seventy years, from the golden age of television to Shakespeare in the Park, the New York Cabaret scene of the late 1940s and 50s to her hit series, The Facts of Life and well beyond.

Off stage and screen, Charlotte's life has been of joy and challenge, raising an autistic son, coming to terms with alcoholism, the heartache of a broken marriage, the revelation of a gay husband and the sudden challenge of facing middle-age with financial and emotional uncertainties--an crisis she ultimately turned into the determination that brought her stardom.

The Facts of My Life is written by Charlotte Rae and her son, Larry Strauss. It's the first opportunity for Charlotte fans to explore the fascinating story of her extraordinary life; poignant and hilarious, a story of courage and triumph, one that speaks for a generation of women breaking barriers, taking on challenges, overcoming personal tragedy, and paving the way for others.

The early chapters of the book focus on her childhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She talks about how her parents, Meyer and Esther, first met. Charlotte Rae Lubotsky was born on April 22, 1926, in Milwaukee. Her father owned a tire store. She has two sisters, the late Beverly and Mimi. Beverly and Charlotte were always very competitive with each other. They didn't always have the best relationship until their later years. She talks about her family often throughout the book.

Rae attended Shorewood High School where she became passionate about theatre. She discusses her time at Northwestern University where she studied acting. Her classmates included her future Facts of Life sister Cloris Leachman and Paul Lynde. Leachman and Rae also shared an apartment in New York City for a time. Rae talks about changing her last name and how it upset her father. She discusses her early work as a saloon and cabaret singer when she was making $60 a week.

Much of the book details her work as a stage actress. She received two Tony nominations for her roles in Pickwick in 1966 and Morning, Noon and Night in 1969. She shares many behind-the-scenes details of her work in various plays and musicals. Rae gives much praise to many people she worked with, but she's also not afraid to talk about a few people she found difficult to work with.

She married composer John Strauss on November 4, 1951. They had two children together, Andy and Larry. She provides many stories about her sons sprinkled throughout the chapters. Her son, Andy, had autism. They struggled to get him help as not much was known about autism back then compared to today. She also discusses her husband coming out as bisexual and their divorce in 1976. Other struggles she discusses in detail include her battle with alcoholism and various health problems. She's had sobriety for over 40 years. She's also a pancreatic cancer survivor.

Rae provides many details about her television work throughout the book. She talks about her guest appearance on The Phil Silvers Show, which her husband worked on in the sound department. She briefly talks about her role as Sylvia Schnauser, the wife of Officer Leo Schnauser (Al Lewis), in Car 54, Where Are You? In 1975, she starred as Mrs. Bellotti in the short-lived Hot L Baltimore. She that this was Norman Lear's favorite series, interestingly enough. She shares a story about her appearance on All in the Family as the tupperware lady, Miss Lillian Henderson.

Her time on Diff'rent Strokes is discussed in a chapter titled Strokes of Good Fortune. She talks about how about she almost didn't play Mrs. Garrett because she was under contract with CBS at at the time. She has some nice things to say about the cast members, but she thought the parents were problematic. It's interesting that she didn't really enjoy her time on the series very much. She was concerned they were phasing her character out by giving her fewer lines.

The Facts of Life is talked about in parts of two chapters. Rae has given many interviews over the years, so there is probably not much new information here for the die-hard fans. Topics she discusses include how she discovered Mindy Cohn, the first season cast, her weight loss after the first season, her favorite guest star and her decision to leave the series. She also talks about her favorite trip to Paris when they filmed The Facts of Life Goes to Paris. I thought it was a little surprising that she didn't mention the 2001 reunion movie at all.

The final two chapters detail her life after The Facts of Life. Despite some health struggles in recent years, she has continued to have roles on television and in films. Most recently she had a small role in Ricki and the Flash.

There's a nice section of over 75 black and white photos in the middle of the book. She provides captions of the many photos of her family and from her show business career. There is one with Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges. Several Facts of Life cast photos and one with Geri Jewell are included. These are fun to see, so it's great that she shared them. Her career highlights and acknowledgments are presented at the end of the book.

If you're a fan of Charlotte Rae, this is a must read. There's only a limited amount of information on her available online, so this book provides her complete life story from her early childhood in Milwaukee up to the present day. They do a nice job of blending in the details of her personal life with her professional career. There's a good mix of comedic and dramatic sections. She also shares some pretty wild stories, such as the first time she smoked pot! It's easy to picture her as Mrs. Garrett, but she has a bit of a mischievous side.

Fans of The Facts of Life may be a little disappointed that only two chapters are devoted to the series, but I think it's a fair amount. This wasn't meant to be a tell-all book on the series. She talks about many of the highlights and has many good things to say about the cast and her time on the show.

The book is well written. It provides all the facts you could ever want to know about Charlotte Rae. It feels like she is almost talking to you as she shares many funny and heartbreaking stories. She has an incredible memory to recall so many names and details. She has overcome many struggles in her 89 years. I don't think you have to be a fan of The Facts of Life or her other work to be inspired by her life story. She seems like a very sweet little woman. She has been blessed to live a long and productive life. Hopefully she has many more healthy years and projects in the future. We have been blessed to have her bring us so many great laughs and memories over her 70 years in show business.



(4/5 stars)

To purchase the paperback version, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

To purchase the hardcover version, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

Bewitched

TV Land has re-added Bewitched to its lineup. The classic '60s sitcom is airing on the network weekdays from 5-6pm replacing an hour of Gilligan's Island. That sitcom will continue to air in the mornings from 10am-12pm following Three's Company which moves to an earlier timeslot replacing I Dream of Jeannie. So essentially, Bewitched is back, and Jeannie is out. The rest of the TV Land line-up will remain the same including The Facts of Life every weeknight from 6-8pm. Both Bewitched and Jeannie will also continue to air on sister Viacom network Logo. Keep it right here for continued updates.


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Sunday, January 17

The Simpsons - "The Road to Cincinnati" (Fox, 7:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Odd couple Skinner and Chalmers embark on an 800-mile car ride to Cincinnati to attend an administrator's convention.

Bob's Burgers - "Mommy Boy" (Fox, 7:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Linda joins a women's business group, Gene gets possessive of her time; Louise and Tina want to learn how to fight.

The Simpsons - "Sorry Not Sorry" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Lisa calls her teacher, Ms. Hoover, a hack and refuses to apologize; Lisa learns Ms. Hoover's private pain.

The Simpsons - "The Dad-Feelings Limited" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Comic book guy and his wife, Kumiko, debate having a baby; his origin story is revealed.

Bob's Burgers - "Yachty or Nice" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When the Belchers get an unexpected invitation to cater the Glencrest Yacht Club's holiday boat parade, Bob wonders if there's a catch; Louise has her eye on the present-loaded Santa Schooner.

Family Guy - "CutawayLand" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Peter and Lois accidentally set up a cutaway gag together, which somehow transports them into the cutaway itself.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 11)

Friday, January 15

  • Cole Sprouse (The Suite Life on Deck/The Suite Life of Zack & Cody/Grace Under Fire) - Watch Cole on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Amy Poehler (Duncanville/Parks and Recreation) - Amy is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Jennifer Love Hewitt (Shaky Ground) - Jennifer appears on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Regina King (The Boondocks/227) - Regina talks about One Night in Miami on Tamron Hall, so check your local listings.
  • Maureen McCormick (The Brady Bunch/The Brady Brides) - Maureen and Dan Vicky talk about about the nostalgic HGTV home renovation series Frozen in Time on Tamron Hall, so check your local listings. They will also be on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Jenna Ortega (Stuck in the Middle) - Jenna talks about her uplifitng book It's All Love on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • Malcolm-Jamal Warner (The Cosby Show/Here and Now/Malcolm & Eddie/Listen Up!) - Malcolm-Jamal talks about Fox's The Resident on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • George Lopez (Lopez/Saint George/George Lopez) - George chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (September-January)

Young Sheldon - The Complete Third Season Mom - The Complete Seventh Season The Flintstones - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Head of the Class - The Complete Second Season The Office - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)

09/01 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - Season 14
09/01 - What We Do in the Shadows - The Complete Second Season
09/01 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
09/15 - Mom - The Complete Seventh Season
09/15 - South Side - Season 1
09/22 - Brockmire - The Complete Second Season
09/22 - Brockmire - The Complete Third Season
09/22 - Brockmire - The Complete Fourth Season
09/22 - Man with a Plan - Season Three
09/29 - The Bob Newhart Show - The Complete Series (2020 Release)
10/13 - The Jetsons - The Complete Series (Diamond Collection)
10/13 - Our Cartoon President - Season Two
10/23 - Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em - The Complete Collection
10/27 - The Flintstones - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
10/27 - Head of the Class - The Complete Second Season (WBShop.com)
11/10 - Letterkenny - Seasons 5 & 6
11/10 - The Office - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
11/10 - Schitt's Creek - The Complete Collection
11/17 - Carol's Second Act - The Complete Series
11/17 - Robbie - Season 1
11/24 - Corporate - Season 1
11/26 - Man with a Plan - Season Four
12/01 - The Neighborhood - Season Two
12/15 - Avenue 5 - The Complete First Season

More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

01/17 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 18, 2021)
01/16 - SitcomsOnline Digest: More Jeopardy! Guest Hosts Announced; NBC Sets Premiere Date for Kenan
01/15 - Fri-Yay: What Does the Future Hold for Sitcoms on Streaming Services?; Disney+ Has Its Teenage Doogie Howser
01/14 - HBO's Insecure Gets 5th and Final Season; Disney's Big City Greens Returns for 3rd Season
01/13 - NBC Orders 3 New Series for 2021-22 Season; Lifetime Slates Winter 2021 Original Movie Slate, Including 400th Original Movie
01/12 - Netflix Gives Us More Bonding Time; Lifetime Movie Club Gets First Original Movie
01/11 - And Just Like That...We Get a Sex and the City Revival Series on HBO Max; Are You Afraid of the Dark? Season 2 Date Revealed
01/10 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 11, 2021)
01/09 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Roku to Acquire Much of Quibi Library; ABC Sees Success in Thursday Night Game Shows
01/08 - Fri-Yay: Why One Day at a Time Cancelation Is a Mistake; COZI TV Remembers Tanya Roberts with Charlie's Angels Special
01/07 - New Punky Brewster Series Drops Feb. 25 on Peacock; Solar Opposites Returns for 2nd Season on Hulu March 26
01/06 - NBC Midseason Pilot Review: Mr. Mayor - Premieres Thursday (Jan. 7); One Tree Hill Duo Return for Comedy Series on Hulu
01/05 - MeTV Network Pays Tribute to Dawn Wells; The Waltons Cast Reunite This Thursday
01/04 - Lifetime January 2021 Schedule with Rizzoli & Isles; Remembering Tanya Roberts of Charlie's Angels and That '70s Show

01/03 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 4, 2021)
01/02 - SitcomsOnline Digest: COVID-19 Shuts Down Production of Several Series; Busy Week of New Premieres
01/01 - Happy New Year!; Murphy Brown Star Heads to The Conners
12/31 - In Memoriam: Remembering Dawn Wells and the Other Sitcom Stars We Lost in 2020
12/30 - New Year's Eve 2020 and New Year's Day 2021 TV Marathons
12/29 - getTV January 2021 Schedule Adds 4 New Series; The Netflix Afterparty Premieres Jan. 2
12/28 - HBO Max Adds More Library Titles in January; The Great North Gets Special Preview This Sunday on Fox
12/27 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of December 28, 2020)
12/26 - SitcomsOnline Digest: ABC Most-Watched Network of 2020; B Positive Gets Full Season Pickup
12/25 - Merry Christmas from SitcomsOnline; Cobra Kai Season 3 Premiere Moved Up!
12/24 - 2020 Christmas Eve and Christmas Day TV Marathons & Movies
12/23 - COZI TV January 2021 Schedule; FX Orders Reservation Dogs
12/22 - COZI TV's New Year's Eve and New Year's Day Marathons; CBS Orders More B Positive Episodes
12/21 - Fox Comedy Premieres Feb. 14; HBO Max Renews Hit Comedic Kaley Cuoco Thriller for Season 2
12/20 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of December 21, 2020)
12/19 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Night Court Sequel in the Works; Superstore Spinoff in Development
12/18 - Fri-Yay: Sitcoms Premiering in 2021; Peacock Renews A.P. Bio for 4th Season
12/17 - BUZZR's Betty White Christmas and Match Game New Year's Marathon; Samantha Bee Gets 6th Season on TBS