0307 Sesame sign
Charlotte Rae, Bob McGrath, Daren R. Dochterman cropped

Charlotte Rae on the Sesame Street set with Bob McGrath and set visitor Daren R. Dochterman.[1]

Charlotte Rae (1926-2018) was a character actress best known for her role as Mrs. Garrett on Diff'rent Strokes and The Facts of Life. Prior to that, she played Molly in the third season of Sesame Street. She was one of six human cast members to join the show in season 3 — but, like Raúl Juliá and Larry Block, left after that season.

Rae had her earliest acting stint on Chicago radio (the soap opera Pepper Young's Family) in the 1940s while attending Northwestern University. She moved to New York City, performing in clubs and revues and on Broadway in Three Wishes for Jamie (1952) and The Littlest Revue (1956) and off-Broadway in as Mrs. Peachum in The Threepenny Opera (1954, with Paul Dooley and John Astin). During this time she began appearing in New York-shot TV plays and was cast by Nat Hiken on The Phil Silver's Show as the title character in "The Twitch." After originating Mammy Yokum in the Broadway musical Li'l Abner (1960), Rae reunited with Hiken for a guest spot as a bank teller on Car 54, Where Are You, leading to a semi-regular role as Sylvia Schnauser. More Broadway followed (Mrs. Bardell in Pickwick opposite Harry Secombe, the one-act trio Morning, Noon and Night) and early seventies film roles in Bananas (as Woody Allen's mother) and The Hot Rock.

Post-Sesame Street, Rae had guest appearances on The Partridge Family, McMillan & Wife, The Paul Lynde Show, the PBS series The Great American Dream Machine, All in the Family, and Barney Miller. She was a regular on the short-lived Norman Lear sitcom Hot l Baltimore (with James Cromwell and Conchata Ferrell) and The Rich Little Show prior to Diff'rent Strokes. She had a cameo in the 1979 film of Hair and was in the 1986 TV movie The Worst Witch (with Diana Rigg and Tim Curry). Later work included cartoon voice-overs, more guest appearances (ER, The King of Queens), and the films You Don't Mess with the Zohan (with Adam Sandler) and Rikki and the Flash (with Meryl Streep).


  1. Muppet Guys Talking Facebook Group

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