Their Favorite Things: "Facts of Life" Star Charlotte Rae Shares Her Theatregoing Experiences, Including Her Favorite Rose

Favorite Things   Their Favorite Things: "Facts of Life" Star Charlotte Rae Shares Her Theatregoing Experiences, Including Her Favorite Rose
Stage and screen veteran Charlotte Rae, who is best known for her role as Mrs. Garrett on the long-running TV series "Facts of Life," shares the Broadway performances that most affected her as part of the audience. Rae will release her autobiography, "The Facts of My Life," Nov. 1.
Charlotte Rae
Charlotte Rae


Uta Hagen as Martha in the original Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

She put me on the edge of my seat and kept me there.

Marlon Brando, of course, as Stanley Kowalski in the original A Streetcar Named Desire

He mined every moment, every nuance of every scene. His performance was a master class.

In keeping with Tennessee Williams, Burl Ives as Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

He made Big Daddy big, not just with his size but his stage presence — he owned the stage. Same with Charles Durning, who I saw in the same role on Broadway years later.

Lee J. Cobb as Willy Loman in the original Death of a Salesman

Like all great performances, he just was the salesman in all his pain and imperfection.

Mildred Dunnock on that same stage as Lee J. Cobb's wife, Linda

What a stunning performance. When she said, "Attention must be paid." And later when she said, "We're free and clear." Goosebumps.

In the original Long Day's Journey Into Night, Fredric March as James Tyrone

Masterful. And when he delivered that monologue in which he explains his experience with poverty, he really made that nasty, miserly grouch sympathetic.

The next time I saw Long Day's Journey was with Colleen Dewhurst as Mary Tyrone

She was wonderful, chilling. Instead of getting angry like you expect, right before she goes to shoot up, she'd get quiet, contain all that rage. Amazing. She was also pretty darn spectacular in A Moon for the Misbegotten.

James Earl Jones as heavyweight boxing champion and revolutionary Jack Jefferson in The Great White Hope

What can I say. Breathtaking. Larger than life. That commanding voice. I mean, he was Jack Jefferson. Hard to analyze the great performances. They just are.

Same with George Rose in The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Such charm. He had an incredible rapport with the audience.

And my friend, Tyne Daly in Gypsy

Let me tell you, she was the best Rose. I saw Ethel Merman in the original on Broadway, and she was terrific — gave me goosebumps when she sang "Rose's Turn," but for me Tyne just was Rose. Remarkable.
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