Even as a teenaged performer with the Shorewood Players, a Milwaukee community-theatre group, Charlotte Rae thrived in playing characters much older than herself. Example: at 16, Charlotte starred as Dolly Gallegher Levi in a Shorewood production of Thornton Wilder's The Merchant of Yonkers (her 28-year-old "Horace Vandergelder" was future Broadway director Morton DaCosta). Following graduation from Northwestern University, Rae made her Broadway bow in 1952's Three Wishes for Jamie. The following year, she scored a hit as Mrs. Peachum in the long-running off-Broadway revival of Brecht and Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera, and within three years she was portraying the ancient, wizened Mammy Yokum in Li'l Abner. She was a favorite of TV producer Nat Hiken, who hired her for several guest spots on The Phil Silvers Show. In 1961, Hiken cast the 35-year-old Charlotte as middle-aged hausfrau Sylvia Schnauzer, virago wife of officer Leo Schnauzer (played by fiftyish Al Lewis) on Car 54, Where are You? Rae's other TV series credits include the 1950s daytime drama From These Roots, the 1975 Norman Lear sitcom Hot L Baltimore and the 1976 Summer replacement The Rich Little Show. In 1978, Rae was cast as flibbertigibbet housekeeper Mrs. Garrett on the Gary Coleman series Diff'rent Strokes; the character struck such a responsive chord with audiences that she was spun off into her own starring sitcom The Facts of Life, in 1986. Rae remained with Facts as Mrs. Garrett until 1986, by which time she had been nominated for two Emmies (she has also received Obie and Tony nominations; an actual win is long overdue). More recently, Charlotte has provided voices for such animated offerings as Tom and Jerry: The Movie (1993) and TV's Itsy Bitsy Spider. An off-and-on nightclub and revue performer, Charlotte Rae took her one-woman "Broadway highlights" show on the road in 1994. Rae would continue to act in the decades to come, providing the voice of Nanny on the 101 Dalmations animated series, and appearing in films like You Don't Mess with the Zohan. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi