Charlotte had previously revealed that she had been diagnosed with bone cancer in April 2017. “Last Monday, I found out I have bone cancer. About seven years ago, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer — which is a miracle that they found it because usually, it’s too late. My mother, sister, and my uncle died of pancreatic cancer,” the actress told People at the time.
“After six months of chemotherapy, I was cancer-free. I lost my hair, but I had beautiful wigs. Nobody ever knew. So now, at the age of 91, I have to make up my mind. I’m not in any pain right now. I’m feeling so terrific and so glad to be above ground. Now I have to figure out whether I want to go have treatment again or opt for life. I love life. I’ve had a wonderful one already. I have this decision to make,” Charlotte continued.
Despite her diagnosis, Charlotte was determined to stay optimistic. “At 91, every day is a birthday. [In my memoir] I want to tell everybody to celebrate every day, to savor the day and be good to yourself, love yourself, and then you can be good to others and be of service to others,” she said.
Born Charlotte Rae Lubotsky in Milwaukee, WI in April 1926, the actress first got her showbiz start doing radio and later NYC theater in the late 1940s. Charlotte’s TV debut came in 1954 on the anthology series The United States Steel Hour. Though she’d worked in Hollywood for serveral years, Charlotte’s career really took off in 1978 when she landed the role of Mrs. Edna Garrett in Diff’rent Strokes.
Because her character was so beloved on Diff’rent Strokes, Charlotte got her own spin-off show, The Facts of Life, in 1979 which also famously starred Mindy Cohn, Kim Fields, Nancy McKeon, Lisa Whelchel, Molly Ringwald, and Charlotte’s dear friend Cloris Leachman.
Throughout her more than 60-year acting career, Charlotte also appeared in popular movies including Tom and Jerry: The Movie, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, and 2015’s Ricki and the Flash. She also starred on TV shows Car 54, Where Are You?, Sesame Street, Hot l Baltimore, The Rich Little Show, The Love Boat, 101 Dalmatians: The Series, Diagnosis: Murder, Strong Medicine, The King of Queens, ER, Pretty Little Liars, and Girl Meets World.
Our thoughts are with Charlotte’s friends and family during this difficult time.