As ‘The Facts of Life’ Turns 40, Lisa Whelchel Looks Back at Her Life on the Show (Exclusive)

There are a lot of Classic TV shows celebrating significant anniversaries this year, and The Facts of Life is one of them. A spinoff of Diff’rent Strokes, the show’s housekeeper Edna Garrett (the late Charlotte Rae) becoming housemother at a dormitory at Eastland Academy, an all-girls school in upstate New York. Among the students she oversees are the wealthy and spoiled Blair Warner (Lisa Whelchel), the humorous Natalie Green (Mindy Cohn), the youngest among them, Dorothy “Tootie” Ramsey (Kim Fields); and tomboy Jo Polniaczek (Nancy McKeon).

Running from 1979 to 1988, The Facts of Life is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, which provides the perfect opportunity to look back at the series through the eyes of Lisa Whelchel. Born May 29, 1963, in Littlefield, Texas, when she was only 10 years old, Lisa became a born-again Christian, and ever since has devoted her life to the Christian faith. Two years later, she became a Mouseketeer on The New Mickey Mouse Club, which saw her relocate to California. When her time on that show ended, she segued over to The Facts of Life. Since then, she’s become a singer, songwriter, author, public speaker, life coach, a contestant on Survivor(!) and will next be seen in ME-TV’s first original reality series, Collector’s Call.

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Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

The focus of Collector’s Call is, as the title suggests, on people who live their life as collectors, taking their passion for a subject and focusing it on memorabilia that they acquire. “I’m a lifelong learner, and I homeschooled my kids, and so I know the power of really hands-on learning, and using images and symbols, and not just kind of abstract, rote knowledge,” Lisa explained to Closer Weekly in an exclusive new interview. “And I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned by seeing these collections. As far as [something like] pin-back buttons, you can really trace the history of political debates, and where we were in our country with them. And, of course, the vintage movie posters over the years, and certain classic television memorabilia, and books, and presidential artifacts. So, that struck my fancy right off the bat. What I didn’t realize was going to end up being the most fun of all, though, was the collectors themselves. As you can imagine, anybody that’s passionate about one certain thing is going to be a character, and that has proven to be true.”

For more on our exclusive interview with Lisa and our look back at The Facts of Life, just scroll down! 

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