Born Charlotte Rae Lubotsky, the actress grew up in Milwaukee and later attended Northwestern University - studying alongside a slew of acting greats, such as Charlton Heston and Paul Lynde. The actress had been diagnosed with bone cancer in April 2017, and pancreatic cancer about seven years earlier. Rae also had starring and supporting roles in "The Love Boat", "101 Dalmatians: The Series", "Sesame Street", "Car 54, Where Are You?". Initially set at a girls' boarding school, that NBC series ran for nine seasons, though Rae left after its seventh year.
In her role, Rae played the house mother at the Eastland School for Girls on The Facts of Life, in a role that earned her an Emmy nomination in 1982. Her ex-husband, composer John Strauss, died in 2011 after a battle with Parkinson's. "I'm feeing so terrific and so glad to be above ground".
The television star continued to confirm that she had chosen to live her life rather than treatment. She recorded a solo album, Songs I Taught My Mother, in 1955 and received two Tony nominations in the '60s, including for Best Featured Actress in a Musical and Best Actress in a Play.
"She was so sweet, funny, wise, lovely, and brilliant.' tweeted Audra of a photo of herself and Charlotte, adding: 'She will be so missed".
She remained single after her marriage ended, but "I have wonderful friends", she told The Associated Press in 2015.
Charlotte Rae's death has sparked an outpouring of condolences from celebrities and fans.
Her career in the theater included numerous roles on Broadway stage as well as Shakespeare in the Park and Summer Stock. "I'm not just a lonely old lady".
In addition to Rae's son Larry and his wife, Eleanor, survivors include her sister Miriam, and grandchildren Sean, Carly, and Nora. There she was cast in the short-lived Norman Lear sitcom "Hot L Baltimore" and a similarly unsuccessful variety show hosted by Rich Little before scoring "Diff'rent Strokes", on which Mrs. Garrett was the family's housekeeper.