Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Facts of Life
The show was originally meant to be a summer series in 1979, but the head of programming decided to bring it back in early 1980. After a thirteen-episode run, the show was retooled extensively. Four of the girls were fired, and a new one was brought in. Now, in addition to being den mother to the girls (wealthy, spoiled Blair Warner (Lisa Whelchel), chubby, fun-loving Natalie Green (Mindy Cohn), nosy Tootie Ramsey (Kim Fields), and the new girl, street-wise Jo Polniaczek (Nancy McKeon), Mrs. Garrett also became their dietitian.
The show became part of NBC's much-watched Saturday night lineup in 1985, but by this time, the girls were now in their late teens and early twenties, and public interest was starting to wane. In an attempt to increase ratings, Mrs. Garrett's store, Edna's Edibles, was burned to the ground and was replaced with a pop-culture influenced malt shop that the girls ran together, called Over Our Heads. They also sold a few records, and this offshoot business was the springboard for many appearances by popular groups and singers, such as El DeBarge, Oingo Boingo, Michael Damian, and Stacey Q.
The ratings began to fall in 1986, when Charlotte Rae decided to leave the series and was replaced by Cloris Leachman, who played Mrs. Garrett's sister, Beverly Ann Stickle. The show was eventually canceled in 1988, with Blair impulsively buying Eastland Academy and becoming the headmistress.
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