By: Charlotte Rae and Larry Strauss
Publisher: Bear Manor Media
Publication Date: 2015
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: October 14, 2015
Charlotte Rae can add writer to her accomplishments as she treats her fans to her poignant memoir: The Facts of My Life.
Ms. Rae begins her story with an alarming reality. While she may have been America’s surrogate ‘mom’ to four precocious girls in her long-running series The Facts of Life, she is also a real mom to her own two sons: Andy and Larry. She introduces her first-born, Andy in her prologue and anchors the fact of how challenging it can be to own the role of ‘mom.’
Andy wasn’t like most boys. He was born with Autism. Of course, such diagnosis was well before its time given it was the 70’s. Charlotte and her husband, John, had no idea how to cope with the unpredictability of it all, yet even though they knew something wasn’t right with their beautiful child, he was still their child and they loved him deeply. As archaic as it is to fathom, as recent as the 70’s, the medical profession believed the best course of action in such cases was to institutionalize the child for his own good as much as for the sanity of the parents. Ms. Rae, however, knew there was so much more she could do for her son.
After such a compelling opening, Ms. Rae steps the reader back to her own childhood. She emphasizes the love, warmth and stability she had growing up in the Midwest—Milwaukee. She is cocooned with the love of a mother, father and two sisters and grew up in a time when innocence and boundless love resulted in a connected family. Ms. Rae wasn’t always ‘Charlotte Rae’; she was Lubotsky. Years later, when she secured her place on screen, the first thing ‘Hollywood’ decided to do was discard that last name—hence, Charlotte ‘Rae’ had arrived. For the next 250+ pages, the author takes the reader on a journey of tremendous accomplishments on stage as well as on screen. She touches upon bittersweet moments that are periodically counterbalanced with equally disappointing outcomes.
Charlotte Rae has treated her audience to the inner sanctum of her very public life. There is no over-the-top prose that is peppered with fancy soliloquies, nor braggadocious affirmations of just how superbly great she truly is. Rather, there is the soul of a woman who has walked through her journey of real life in spite of her fame. At the end of the day, I believe the absolute motivation Ms. Rae had in penning her memoir was to share her story of an interesting life filled with highs as much as lows and a balance throughout of what her purpose was meant to be: to live her life to its fullest. There is a tone that is set at the inception of this read that says: ‘this is my life and what a glorious life it has been.’ There are positive affirmations to take away from the many facets of peaks and valleys and I applaud Ms. Rae for staying true not only to herself, but to her intended audience as well. This is an inspirational read that contains not one ounce of scandal or embellishment. Ms. Rae rightfully owns the recognition of the accomplished actress she is and I thank her for penning such an enjoyable and captivating read. She didn’t have to share her life with strangers, but she did. Bravo Ms. Rae for yet another stellar performance!
Quill says: The Facts of My Life is a genuine diamond in the ‘rough’ of Hollywood!