Born Charlotte Rae Lubotsky in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Rae started out in local theatre and radio before landing her big TV break as Sylvia Schnauser on the classic comedy auto 54, Where Are You?
She previously battled pancreatic cancer in private, telling the outlet that the public was unaware she was undergoing chemotherapy until she announced her recovery. "I'm not in any pain right now", she explained at the time. She first charmed audiences as housekeeper Edna Garrett on the sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes" before spinning off the role into a new sitcom, "The Facts of Life", which made her a star. "I'm feeing so terrific and so glad to be above ground".
Todd Bridges, who famously played young Willis Jackson along Rae's Mrs. Garrett on Diff'rent Strokes, paid tribute to all of his late costars: "RIP IN PEACE ALL OF MY CAST MATES". I lost my hair, but I had handsome wigs. "I love life. I've had a wonderful one already." she continued. I'd like to choose life.
Mrs. Garrett began on the show "Diff'rent Strokes" (1978-84.) She also briefly reprised the role on the shore-lived "Hello, Larry".
After leaving Facts in 1986, replaced by Cloris Leachman for the last two years of the show's run, Rae took a variety of voice and acting roles on shows ranging from the animated 101 Damations: The Series to ER to Girl Meets World.
In 2014, the cast including Mindy Cohn, Geri Jewell, Lisa Whelchel and Nancy McKeon all got back together for a 35-year reunion.
Rae also wrote about the grief of losing her son Andy, who had autism and epilepsy and died of a heart attack in his mid-40s.
In her April 2017 statement, Rae also said, "At 91, every day is a birthday".
She married composer John Strauss in 1951, and the couple had two sons, Larry and Andrew. "[In my book] I want to tell everybody to celebrate every day, to savor the day and be good to yourself, love yourself, and then you can be good to others and be of service to others".