I’m sad to report the death of Charlotte Rae, one of those familiar TV faces many of us grew up with. She passed away Sunday at 92, surrounded by family at her home in L.A.
Most people remember her as the motherly Mrs. Garrett on two long-running shows, “Diff’rent Stokes” and “The Facts of Life.” But her career stretched over seven decades. She first came to fame playing Mammy Yokum in the original Broadway production of “L’il Abner;” appeared on such early TV shows as “Car 54, Where Are You;” and kept working almost to the end, on such recent teen shows as “Pretty Little Liars” and “Girl Meets World.” She was one of those rare actors whose colleagues describe her as being as warm, funny and down-to-earth in real life as she appeared on screen. In fact, she once said that at a book signing, the fans “all wanted a hug from me! And I gave it to them. All of them."
She will be missed by fans, and boy, will her attitude be missed in Hollywood.
My condolences also to the family of conservative elder statesman Paul Laxalt, who has died in Virginia at 96. I’d urge you to click on the link and read his full obituary, which is one of the great American rise-from-humble-beginnings stories of all time. In his memoir, “Sweet Promised Land,” Laxalt told of his father, a Basque who left the Pyrenees in 1906 to herd sheep in the American West. After surviving horrific combat in the Philippines in World War II, Laxalt went to law school, then into politics, eventually becoming a US Senator, Governor of Nevada and trusted adviser to President Reagan. As he said, "Not bad for a Basque sheepherder's kid."
Laxalt even ran for President himself in 1987, an experience he later described as “the four most miserable months of my life.” But if you want to know all the inside dirt, sorry: he was too much of a gentlemen ever to cash in by writing a tell-all book. There aren’t many like him in politics today, sadly for us all.