Charlotte Rae is best known for playing beloved housemother Edna Garrett on the 1980s hit sitcom “The Facts of Life,” but things were no laughing matter off-screen before her years on set.
The 90-year-old actress recently unveiled a memoir, “The Facts of My Life,” and she got candid about her battle with alcoholism.
“Alcohol became my drug of choice so I could get sleep at night,” Rae told Fox News. “It was difficult. I was doing ‘Sesame Street’ [1971-1972] as Molly the Mail Lady and I had to get to sleep so I could get up for the kids and do the TV show Monday-Friday.”
Rae was drinking alcohol long before that though. When she was enrolled as a student at Northwestern University in Illinois, she and fellow classmates would go to Chicago to find alcohol because their area was “dry.”
“We would get a shot of whiskey and chase it with beer,” she said. “That was the thing to do.”
After Rae graduated, she met her husband, composer John Strauss, in the Adirondack Mountains in New York where he was an industry musician and she an entertainer at a summer resort.
“He would say, ‘Why don’t we get a bottle instead of sitting by the bar? It’s cheaper! We’ll go up to your room and drink,’” she recalled. “And then I became very, very used to drinking. We were real drinking buddies.”
When Rae gave birth to her eldest son, Andy, doctors informed her that he was autistic and mentally disabled. That further led her to a downward spiral. It wasn’t until a friend advised her to attend Alcoholics Anonymous that she ultimately decided to seek help in her 40s.
“After the wrap party for ‘Sesame Street,’