For The Facts of Life stars — Mindy Cohn, Kim Fields, Nancy McKeon and Lisa Whelchel — their hit TV series has taught them (and their TV characters) a lot about life and love!
For the past six years, The Facts of Life’s lovable characters — “Tootie,” “Natalie,” “Jo” and “Blair’ — portrayed so sensitively by Kim (age 15), Mindy (18), Nancy (18) and Lisa (21), learn a lesson each week and gladly share their experience with the audience.
Half the cast left the show
When this hit show first premiered in September 1979, the cast was twice as large as the current cast, and the problems on the series were very school-related. But after a couple of seasons, the show centered around the personal problems of only “Jo,” “Tootie,” “Natalie” and “Blair.”
Through the years, the storylines began dealing with more serious problems that many girls face in everyday life.
And how do the four actresses feel about the changes they, like their TV characters, have experienced?
“Our characters have definitely matured,” explains warm and friendly Mindy, a Los Angeles, California-native born on May 20, 1966. In real life, Mindy’s not as sheltered as “Natalie” and the world traveler her character is not.
Hazel-eyed Nancy (who was born on April 5, 1966 in Long Island, New York) confides, “Portraying ‘Jo’ came easy to me. She often acts tough to cover up a soft interior.”
Now, instead of battling “Blair” all the time (as they’ve done in the past), both characters have matured into understanding, caring friends.
“Young girls look up to us”
Blonde-haired Lisa (who was born in Littlefield, Texas on May 29, 1963) has strong religious beliefs that make her extra careful of how her character, “Blair,” is presented on Facts.
“The young girls who watch our show look up to us,” hazel-eyed Lisa confirms, “and I don’t want to promote something I don’t believe in.”
Kim, the youngest of the four-some (she was born on May 12, 1969 in New York City), has changed dramatically on and off the show.
“My character ‘Tootie’ was always on roller skates that first year!” Kim laughs. “In the second season, I got to walk on my own two feet! But my character was ‘the kid’ — the tattletale, the tag-along.”
Four years later, “the kid” has her first real boyfriend on the series and is without the braces she’s worn on her teeth for three years.
“I think I’m more mature than ‘Tootie,”‘ reveals brown-eyed Kim (who, in real life, skipped a grade this year to become a high school junior because of her high grades), “and I would definitely dress differently than she does!”
The girls choose their own clothes and hairstyles
As in the previous years, the girls were usually seen on camera in their school uniforms with ponytails in their hair.
But times are changing. This season, the girls have been allowed to select some of their own wardrobe on the show, and they get to wear their hair the way they do in real life.
Because of their hit TV show, Mindy, Lisa, Nancy, and Kim have learned that growing up (on-screen and offscreen) isn’t always as easy as it looks. But knowing that a lot of people share their same problems and experiences makes the lessons a lot easier to learn … and a lot more fun!