Charlotte Rae was born and raised on a farm in Wisconsin just as her character Edna Garrett was. Being the middle child, she never felt as though she fit in....her older sister Beverly was very secure and Mimi, her younger sister, was the cute one. She has said that she seemed to always be the woman character role and skipped her teenage years. She changed her last name to Rae whenever a radio station guy told her Lubotsky would not do.
Charlotte Rae attended the college Northwestern in Evanston, IL. She was friends with Cloris Leachman there who later joined the cast of "The Facts of Life" when Charlotte left. Once she moved to NYC, she and Cloris Leachman became roommates. She started off as a singer.
Charlotte Rae was married to John Strauss but divorced him just before her big break on "Diff'rent Strokes." They had two sons, Larry, and Andrew. As I understand it, her son Larry teaches in California and I have not been able to find information on her other son other than that he had autism and the character Andy on "The Facts of Life" was named after him....much information on her children contradicts itself on the internet. On the "E! True Hollywood Story," Geri Jewel mentioned she felt Charlotte had feelings towards her that had nothing to do with her, but rather her son. Charlotte, however, said that Geri just never felt comfortable around her.
While she had made her mark on Broadway, her fame on the small screen was yet to come. Ms. Rae's claim to fame would most likely her role as Edna Garrett on "The Facts of Life." However she has had many note-worthy jobs in her life. She was Mrs. Garrett from 1979 through 1986. Then she felt as though her role as the girl's (from the show) main confidante was being lessened due to the fact that they were confiding in each other. So she said good-bye and the network brought Cloris Leachman in as her sister Beverly Ann.
Currently, Charlotte Rae is working only when she wants to. She is enjoying her time at home and being with her son and grandchildren.