08.08.2018

Todd Bridges on Death of 'Diff'rent Strokes' Co-Star Charlotte Rae: "I'm the Last One Left"

Todd Bridges on Death of 'Diff'rent Strokes' Co-Star Charlotte Rae: "I'm the Last One Left" Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

For a generation of latchkey kids growing up in the 1980s, Charlotte Rae was more than just a sitcom character. Her Edna Garrett was a surrogate maternal figure, raising her teenaged wards — first as a housekeeper on Diff'rent Strokes, then as a prep school administrator on its spinoff The Facts of Life — with a firm, if frazzled, hand.

But for Todd Bridges, who played Willis on Strokes, Rae — who died Aug. 5 at 92 — was no surrogate. She was the same nurturing and ebullient woman who appeared on the screen.

"She was always so bright and bubbly and had so much energy," recalls Bridges, now 53. "So much energy that we almost didn’t know how to deal with her. It was almost as if every time was the first time she was acting — that’s how excited she was."

Bridges is now the sole surviving member of the show's core cast. Conrad Bain, who played his wealthy adoptive father Mr. Drummond, died after a stroke in 2013 at age 89. Bridges' TV siblings are deceased as well: Gary Coleman was 43 when he died in 2010 of an epidural hematoma, while Dana Plato fatally overdosed on painkillers in 1999 when she was 34. 

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