Popular shows often hide behind-the-scenes drama - and The Facts of Life comes as no exception. After the show's first season, the network ordered the series to cut more than half of its child actors, including a young Molly Ringwald. This proved only to be the start: breakout star Lisa Whelchel, who played spoiled rich girl Blair, faced intense scrutiny for her weight. At the same time, producers told Mindy Cohn, who played Natalie, to gain 40 pounds. Whelchel also shared surprising thoughts about her on-screen kiss with George Clooney and her views regarding her co-star Nancy McKeon dating Michael J. Fox.
From drama among the Golden Girls to the struggles of the Brady Bunch kids, memorable shows often have a hidden dark side. The Facts of Life included Brady Bunch crossover drama when the actress who played Jan Brady unexpectedly hit Whelchel in the face. Moreover, Charlotte Rae, who played Mrs. Garrett, voiced her objections to the show, which may explain why Mrs. Garrett eventually left Facts of Life.
Here's the good and bad from behind the scenes of The Facts of Life.
Eve Plumb, who played Jan Brady on The Brady Bunch, appeared on The Facts of Life as Blair's sister. On the show, the sisters got into a fight. Behind the scenes, during their rehearsal, Plumb dealt an inadvertent blow to Lisa Whelchel's face.
"It didn't really hurt, but I milked it a bit," Whelchel later admitted. She asked the makeup artists to give her a black eye as a joke, noting, "Everyone was rushing around trying to figure out what to do."
George Clooney joined the cast of The Facts of Life in Season 7. He played a handyman who eventually shared a kissing scene with Lisa Whelchel. Apparently, it wasn't memorable - Whelchel said she remembers nothing about their kiss.
The cast saw Clooney as "just another actor," according to Mindy Cohn. She added, "It wasn't a big deal for him to be on the show."
Clooney wasn't the only future star who appeared on the show. Helen Hunt, David Spade, Juliette Lewis, and Seth Green all had guest spots. Richard Dean Anderson, the future MacGyver, even played Tootie's uncle.
During the program's first season, Molly Ringwald played one of the girls who lived in the boarding school. Low ratings, however, led to an order from NBC: cut cast members who weren't fitting in on the show. Ringwald was only 12 years old when she was fired; the actress later recalled, "I was definitely hurt. I didn't like it at all."
Ringwald went on to become a major actress in the 1980s, starring in Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink.
Charlotte Rae played the role of Mrs. Garrett on The Facts of Life. As the school housemother, Mrs. Garrett provided practical advice and guidance for the girls. But Rae had a different idea about her character and tried to get producers to work with her proposed character choices.
In her memoir, Rae admitted she begged the producers to let Mrs. Garrett "lose her temper, yell at the kids. Let her be a human being."
The producers refused, insisting that on screen, Mrs. Garrett remain a calm, steady presence.