In the new issue of Closer Weekly, The Facts of Life star Charlotte Rae opens up about her struggle with alcoholism, telling Closer she often slept with a liquor bottle under her pillow.
Charlotte says she hit rock bottom when a doctor told her that her six-year-old autistic son, Andy, may have to be institutionalized. She cried herself to sleep each night terrified at the thought. Back then, “Nobody even knew what autism was,” she remembers, and a diagnosis of the little-understood affliction often meant a lifetime locked up in a psychiatric ward.
Charlotte during the The Facts of Life days. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
“I cried and cried and nearly went out of my mind!” she tells Closer. “That’s when drinking became a nightly thing. I kept the bottle with me at my pillow to help me go to sleep.”
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Eventually, Charlotte was able to find doctors who could help Andy, but her alcoholism progressed unchecked for many years until a friend referred her to Alcoholics Anonymous. “I said, ‘AA? I am not an alcoholic! I just have a little drinking problem!’” she recalls to Closer.
Charlotte and son Larry at her book signing in November 2015. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Charlotte became sober in 1974 and today calls the program “the greatest gift.”
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“My life is like anyone’s life, filled with wonderful, beautiful things and also some things that are pretty hard to accept,” says Charlotte, whose memoir The Facts of My Life, co-authored with her youngest son, Larry Strauss, is out now. “But I wanted people to know that when life is really hard and you just want to die, you can pull through and find joy again.”
For the full interview with Charlotte, including more on her son’s autism diagnosis and her husband coming out as bisexual, pick up the new issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now!
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