Mrs. Garrett could be frazzled at times for sure, but she always knew the right thing to do to keep her girls smiling on the old hit TV show, “The Facts of Life.”
Real life for actress Charlotte Rae, however, had its more difficult and darker times. Alcohol addiction took its toll on Rae, and she opened up about the topic recently in an interview with Fox News. She said she used to drink herself to sleep during a battle with alcohol addiction that began in college and dogged her throughout her forties.
“Alcohol became my drug of choice so I could get sleep at night,” Rae, 90, said. “It was difficult. I was doing ‘Sesame Street’ (from 1971-72) 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 through Friday.”
After she met her husband, composer John Strauss, her drinking intensified.
“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,'” Rae told Fox News. “And then I became very, very used to drinking. We were real drinking buddies.”
The birth of her eldest son, Andrew, who was born autistic and with a mental disability, exacerbated her drinking problem. She said she finally sought help from Alcoholics Anonymous in her 40s.
“After the wrap party for ‘Sesame Street,’ I went over to a meeting,” she said. “I was expecting to see a bunch of bums with red noses and burlap flying around. No — I saw a lot of well dressed, beautiful people. At the end of the meeting, we all held hands and said the Lord’s prayer. And I wept. That was the beginning of my sobriety.”
She is now 42 years sober.