The Facts of Life Cast: Then and Now

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For nearly decade between 1979 to 1988, the United States and the world enjoyed the wholesome sitcom which was The Facts of Life. Over the course of nine seasons and close to 210 episodes, this primarily female casted show shared the screen and the stories of what it was like to mature as a woman.

The show itself is actually a spin-off of the sitcom Diff’rent Strokes, which gained world wide popularity in the 1980’s. Facts of Life takes Mrs. Garrett, the housekeeper from Diff’rent Strokes, and followed her as she continued being a housekeeper at an all girls’ school. The show reached audiences all over the United States and the world, as well as touching the hearts and souls of a generation of people worldwide.


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The show broke down social barriers for what was acceptable during that time, from having a girl have her first time with a boy to introducing a semi-recurring character who was afflicted by cerebral palsy.

The show spawned numerous made for television movies, such as The Facts of Life goes to Paris, the Facts of Life Down Under, and one reunion episode in 2001.

Facts of Life was one of the shows which helped launch the careers of a multitude of actors and actresses who are today considered to be household names, actors such as George Cloony, Molly Ringwald, Mayim Bialik, Seth Green, and many others. Additionally, a plethora of famous guest stars also appeared on the show, ranging from Zsa Zsa Gabor and Jenny O’hara to Anne Jackson and Doug Savant.

Ever since the show ended back in 1988, it has been in syndication and played on various TV networks on cable and regular television. However, there were a ton of secrets about the show and the cast and crew. Crazy, incredible things such as…

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Charlotte Rae | Mrs. Garrett

The role of Mrs. Garrett, the character that made the spin-off possible, was played by actress, Charlotte Rae. Mrs. Garrett was the caretaker and housekeeper for a group of girls attending the Eastland Preparatory School. During the first season of the show, Mrs. Garrett was taking care of seven young women. As of season two, Mrs. Garrett was in charge of four ladies. Mrs. Garrett though, was much more than just a caretaker and housekeeper to the girls, she was the glue that held them all together, and her character would evolve over the course of the many seasons, to also become Eastland’s dietician and her very own business venture.

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Charlotte Rae | Mrs. Garrett

Charlotte is now 90 years old (wow!), and is still seen on red carpets and other television events. Rae won an Emmy Award for her role as Mrs. Garrett, as well she should have since she was the reason for the very creation of the show! Since the end of the show, Rae has enjoyed a long career in television and film. She appeared in the film, Ricky and the Flash, costarring with Rick Springfield, Kevin Kline, and Meryl Streep. Rae has also landed very fun voice roles over the years, such as, Itsy Bitsy Spider, and The Brothers Flub. In recent years, Rae has taken her work down a notch, which is well deserved in our book!

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Kim Fields | Tootie

Tootie! We loved this little one. Actress, Kim Fields, played the role of Tootie, also known as Dorothy Ramsey. Fields was 10 years old when she began playing Tootie, which is the reason you always saw her rolling around the house in her roller skates – producers wanted her to seem taller than she really was, since Tootie was supposed to be 12 years old. Tootie was the only African-American girl on the show at the time and was therefore used in storylines that related to racism and other social injustices. Like Whelchel, Fields’ character was on the show from its inception to its end.

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Kim Fields | Tootie

Kim Fields comes from a family of actors, as her sister and mother are also in the acting business. The years following The Facts of Life were filled with other television shows for Fields. Fields went on the be a regular on the show, Living Single, from 1993 to 1998. Fields was a part of all of The Facts of Life reunion movies and interviews (we couldn’t imagine it without Tootie!). Fields kept busy by getting her university degree and beginning her directorial work, which she now does for the Nickelodeon channel. Kim has most recently been on reality shows like, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, and dancing her way through Dancing with the Stars.

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Mindy Cohn | Natalie Green

Mindy Cohn’s story of how she got on The Facts of Life is probably the most unique one on here. Charlotte Rae came with producers to a prep school during the pre-production stage of the show, to get inspiration and fact checking the setting. Rae ran into young Mindy and just fell in love with her spunk and attitude. Rae was taken with her so much that she had producers create a characters just for her! And so the character of Natalie Green was born. Mindy was 13 years old when she started playing Natalie, with her full figure entering the storyline on multiple occasions and discussed in a positive way through her Natalie’s positive attitude about her self-image.

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Mindy Cohn | Natalie Green

Mindy is also well known for her voice work, as she was the voice of Velma Dinkley in the Scooby Doo series from 2002 to 2015. Mindy has kept very busy with television appearances, all the while keeping her bubbly personality that captivated audiences for decades. Cohn was on shows like, Charles In Charge, The Help, and 21 Jump Street. In terms of film roles, her most recent one was in 2010 in the film, Violet Tendencies. Her sitcom appearances are where she truly shines though, and her cameos in shows like The Middle, Hot in Cleveland, and Secret Life of the American Teenager, were made so much better by her comedic timing.

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Molly Ringwald | Molly Parker

We mentioned that the first season was different from the other seasons because the cast was much larger at the time. Actress Molly Ringwald, a very young Molly Ringwald, played the role of Molly Parker. Molly’s role as, well, Molly, was cut after the first season, along with others, so she was only on the show from 1979 to 1980. Molly was pretty upset about being cut, but with the career she went on to have we are sure she got over it really fast.

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Molly Ringwald | Molly Parker

Speaking of the amazing career Molly went on to have, she starred in three practically cult movies today – Sixteen Candles., Pretty in Pink, and The Breakfast Club. Molly’s role in these films solidified her as a teenage hit. Ringwald still keeps busy with television and film roles, although not as busy as her life in the 80s, she has been in films like King Kobra, and Bad Night, and made appearances in shows like, Riverdale, and Raising Expectations. Molly has been married since 2007 (her second marriage), and has three children with her current husband.

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George Clooney | George Burnett

There seems to be a pattern of character’s first name being the same as the actor or actress playing it. George Clooney, before he was the award winning stud he would become, played the role of George Burnett, the adorable and lovable handyman. Clooney started appearing on The Facts of Life in season seven and would stay until the end of season eight. His stint on the show would be 17 episodes long and we were blissful about it. Little known fact: Clooney’s character kissed Whelchel’s character and Lisa has no recollection of the kiss whatsoever; what a shame!

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George Clooney | George Burnett

Obviously, George Clooney went on to be a HUGE celebrity. Clooney really broke out with his role as Dr. Doug Ross on the hit television show, ER. He later transitioned into film roles that got his a wide range of critical acclaim and awards. The Academy Award winning actor has starred in films like, Oceans Eleven, Gravity, Syriana, Burn After Reading, and Michael Clayton. He has been named the sexiest man alive more than one year, and we totally agree. Most recently, Clooney finally settled down with wife, Amal and is expanding his family as we speak.

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Cloris Leachman | Beverly Ann

By the end of season six of The Facts of Life, actress Charlotte Rae had had enough of her role as Mrs. Garrett and wanted to go on to different projects. Step in, Cloris Leachman, personal friend of Rae’s, and funny woman to boot! Cloris played the role of Beverly Ann from season seven (1986) until the end of the show. Writers wrote that Mrs. Garrett is going to Africa and therefore Beverly Ann is coming in. Beverly’s character owned a shop, where the girls would frequent quite a bit. Cloris was chosen by Charlotte to fill her part on the show because of the relationship she had with the producers who trusted her judgment and choice.

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Cloris Leachman | Beverly Ann

Cloris is a well-known and loved actress, with the innate ability to make anyone laugh to the point of tears. Cloris has won eight Primetime Emmy Awards in her life, more than any other actor today! She is also a Daytime Emmy Award, and Academy Award winner. Once The Facts of Life was done, Cloris appeared on the show The Beverly Hillbillies, as Daisy May Moses, as well as on show like, Raising Hope, Malcolm in the Middle, and Dancing with the Stars.

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John Lawlor | Steven Bradley

Going back to the first season of The Facts of Life, actor John Lawlor, played the role of the then-Headmaster, Steven Bradley. He played the role from 1979 to 1980. Much like the others in season one, he was also cut by the beginning of season two, along with four other young women who were under Mrs. Garrett’s supervision. Producer’s believed that John was no longer needed on the show as Mrs. Garrett was enough of a personality to fill the small screen aplenty.

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John Lawlor | Steven Bradley

John’s short time on The Facts of life was not the last of him, for sure. Lawlor went on to appear on television shows like, Knots Landing, L.A. Law, Barney Miller, Mr. Belvedere, Ellery Queen, The Rockford Files, Alice, and Baa Baa Black Sheep. His most well-known role as of yet is his time on the show, Breaking Bad, as Skyler White. Some of Lawlor’s film appearances include, Wyatt Earp, and Billy Jack Goes to Washington.

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Felice Schachter | Nancy

Nancy was played by actress, Felice Schachter on The Facts of Life. Felice was on the show for season one only and was cut between the two seasons. Schachter was unfortunately the first of the girls to be removed from the show, but certainly not the last of them. As unfortunate as her departure from the show after only one season was, Schachter managed just fine for herself, so don’t feel bad.

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Felice Schachter | Nancy

Schachter’s career in film and television did indeed continue past her time on The Facts of Life. Felice was in the film, Zapped! co-starring alongside Scott Baio (who was a big deal back in the 80s and 90s). She worked as a production assistant, and assistant to the director on several projects, including commercials and industry films. Felice was a part of the production team on televisions show like, Law and Order, High Tide, JAG, The Citizen, and 30 Years to Life.

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Julie Piekarski | Sue Ann Weaver

Very much like Felice, Julie landed the role of Sue Ann Weaver, only to be cut one season later. Sue Ann would appear once again on The Facts of Life in a much later season. Before her time on The Facts of Life, Julie was a Mouseketeer, participating as such between 1977 and 1978. Julie has continued to act on the small screen throughout the years.

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Julie Piekarski | Sue Ann Weaver

After her time on The Facts of Life came to an end, Julie continued acting as her primary job and love. She was on shows like, Three’s Company, Quincy M.E., The Best of Times, and ABC After School Specials, to name a few. In addition to her acting roles, Julie was an entertainment reporter for her local television channel, KPLR-TV, in St. Louis, Missouri. Julie married John Probst, a dentist, and together they have three children. Julie has always said that she cherished her time on The Facts of Life and wouldn’t change a thing.

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McKenzie Astin | Andy Moffett

McKenzie Astin was just 12 years old when he joined the cast of The Facts of Life, as young and charismatic, Andy Moffett. He was on the show from 1985 to the end of the show in 1988. Andy was a staple on the show, adding some trouble-making and youth to the cast. Andy’s character would walk into Edna’s Edibles begging for a job, as well as master the art of makeshift business deals, or basically anything that would make him some form of income.

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McKenzie Astin | Andy Moffett

McKenzie Astin is now far from being a little child. Astin is now in his 40s and a frequent face on a plethora of television shows. His roles in shows like, Lost, NCIS, Psych, House, and Grey’s Anatomy, have not gone unnoticed by producers in Hollywood. Astin did not limit his acting to the small screen and has been in major motion pictures as well. His film credits include, The Evening Star, The Last Days of Disco, and Wyatt Earp. McKenzie is most recently involved in the Theatre Arts program at Johns Hopkins University, as the Director of the program.

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Julie Anne Haddock | Cindy Webster

Back and forth we go! Julie Anne Haddock played the role of Cindy Webster on the first season of The Facts of Life. After season one she was no longer a part of the main cast but made appearances in seasons two and three as a guest star. The network, NBC, explained to the public that the reason so many characters were cut at the time was due to the fact that they decided to change the course of the storyline and therefore these characters, like Cindy Webster, became obsolete.

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Julie Anne Haddock | Cindy Webster

Julie Anne’s last episode was in 1986, after which she decided to shift her focus from television and acting in general to cultivating her own personal life and family. Julie Anne currently lives in California with her husband and children, and spends her time singing at her local church. Julie Anne’s last time in front of the camera was for The Facts of Life DVD, where she told the interviewer that she spends much of her time doing charity work through her local church.

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Sherrie Austin | Pippa McKenna

Sherrie Austin is an Australian born actress and singer, and was part of The Facts of Life cast the last year of its production between 1987 and 1988. Sherrie played the role of Pippa McKenna on the show, an exchange student from Australia, coming to the Eastland Academy from thee Australian Koolunga Academy. Sherrie appeared on the ninth season for 15 episodes total. The character of Pippa was put for added comedy, as Pippa was always going along with Andy’s money making schemes.

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Sherrie Austin | Pippa McKenna

Sherrie left The Facts of Life in 1988 and transitioned to a musical career, her first and true passion. In the 90s, Sherrie was part of the band, Colohaus. After her time with the band, Austin moved to the United States to pursue her music more seriously and internationally. Her song, Streets of Heaven, topped the 2003 Billboard charts. Over the years, Sherrie has been releasing albums every couple of years, with her latest one being released in 2011.

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Geri Jewell | Geri Tyler

Geri Jewell played the role of Geri Tyler on The Facts of Life thanks to producer Norman Lear, who saw Geri perform her comedy skit at the Media Access Awards. Geri was on the show from 1980 to 1984, seasons two through five. In terms of history changing, Geri was the first person with a visible disability to be a part of the main cast on a television show, and especially with a condition like Cerebral Palsy.

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Geri Jewell | Geri Tyler

Geri has continued her acting career and has made appearances on shows like Glee, Deadwood, The Young and the Restless, Alcatraz, Strong Medicine and 21 Jump Street. Her roles in films include, Two of a Kind, and The Night of the White Pants. Geri’s love and knack for comedy has not left her and has been used in every role she has taken. Despite having a disability like Cerebral Palsy, Geri had not let anything slow her down.

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Alex Rocco | Charlie Polniaczek

Actor Alex Rocco landed the role of Charlie Polniaczek, Jo’s father, on The Facts of Life. He may have only been on 11 episodes in total but they were over the span of seven years and seasons. Because his job on The Facts of Life was so few and far between, Alex took other roles, such as, P.K. and the Kid, Return to Horror High, Lady in White, and Scenes from the Goldmine. He was also in productions like, Murder, She Wrote, The A Team, St. Elsewhere, and The Golden Girls.

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Alex Rocco | Charlie Polniaczek

Rocco is known throughout Hollywood for his talent and professionalism. He has been in productions like Maron, and Episodes, along with films like, The Wedding Planner, Find Me Guilty, Scammerhead, and The Job. Sadly, Alex passed away in 2015 when he was 79 years old. His time in front of the screen will be remembered by many generations.

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Roger Perry | Charles Parker

Roger Perry played the role of Charles Parker from 1981 to 1983 and seasons three through five. He was on the show for a total of ten episodes and is remembered most of all for his line to Mrs. Garrett: “You know there are parents here whose names I’ve only seen on checks? And I’ve been getting angry phone calls from them all week. They are furious I allowed those books to be removed from the library. I mean Edna, they hate me.”

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Roger Perry | Charles Parker

Roger did not continue acting after his time on The Facts of Life. He instead opted to get married and have children while working in odd jobs. He married wife, Joyce Bulifant, and settled down in Palm Springs, California, where he and his wife got the Golden Palm Star on the Walk of Stars in Palm Springs. His wife had been married four times before she met Roger, however, he was the one!

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Jami Gertz | Boots St. Clair

Blair needed a friend to bounce ideas off of and make her look good, right? Well, step in Jami Gertz as Boots St. Clair. Gertz played the role of Blair’s equally spoiled best friend. During the years Gertz was on The Facts of Life, she was also on shows like Dreams, Family Ties, and For Members Only. Gertz was also on Diff’rent Strokes in 1983, but as the role of Lindsay and not anything to do with The Facts of Life.

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Jami Gertz | Boots St. Clair

In an interesting twist, nowadays, Jami is one of the richest women in the world! She and her husband, Antony Resslet, are involved in the investment group that was purchased by MLB franchise Milwaukee Brewers. Needless to say the buy out left Jami and Antony very wealthy. Jami continues to act today, and has been in films like, Twister, Jersey Girl, and Dealin’ with Idiots. Her television game is also very strong, as she has been on shows such as, Ally McBeal, Still Standing, This Is Us, ER and Entourage.

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Marj Dusay | Monica Warner

Marj Dusay spent eight episodes between 1981 and 1987 as Monica Warner, Blair’s mother. She was on The Facts of Life as a returning guest star that added a lot to Blair’s character and situation. With the show being as funny as it always is, there are serious undertones to many episodes that are calmed by the implementation of comic relief.

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Marj Dusay | Monica Warner

Marj has been on television since the beginning of her career and to this day. After The Facts of Life, Dusay spent years playing the role of Alexandra Spaulding on Guiding light, from 1993 to 2009, and the role of Vanessa Bennett from 1999 to 2002. Dusay is a very good dramatic actress, who knows when to make a scene more serious and when to lighten it up.

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Jenny O’Hara | Emily Mahoney

Jenny O’Hara played the role of Emily Mahoney as a reoccurring guest role during the first season of The Facts of Life. Emily Mahoney played a form of side kick for Mrs. Garrett and added a lot of humor to the already funny cast. In the 70s, O’Hara acted in a play, replacing her sister; and thus began Jenny’s long career.

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Jenny O’Hara | Emily Mahoney

Jenny’s name and face are now synonymous with Hollywood films and television. In terms of television roles, she has been in The Mindy Project, Transparent, Costello, Dangerous Minds, and The King of Queens. Jenny is happily married and a mother to two children (adult children at this point). She has always been good with work and personal life balance, and her work shows it.

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Ryan Cassidy | Kevin Metcalf

The role of Kevin Metcalf went to actor Ryan Cassidy, the youngest of the Cassidy boys, with brother, David Cassidy known for his role in The Partridge Family. Ryan played the role of Kevin during the sixth season of the show in 1985. Ryan’s portrayal of Kevin was perfect, as his looks matched the 80s style perfectly; total heartthrob material.

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Ryan Cassidy | Kevin Metcalf

Ryan decided to go for work that was more behind the scenes than anything in front of it. He had his hand in the art department on sets of shows like, The Secret Life of Alex Mack, JAG, Good Luck Charlie, Muppets Tonight, and The King of Queens. In more recent years he has been trying to get back into the acting game.

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Juliette Lewis | Terry Rankin

Juliette joined the cast of The Facts of Life for the final season of the show, as Terry Rankin. Juliette was added to the show as groundwork for a spinoff that never came to fruition. Juliette was still unknown at the time she was on The Facts of Life, but there are those who say that her brief time on the show is what got her noticed for future roles.

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Juliette Lewis | Terry Rankin

Now, Juliette is a full fledged Hollywood star. Lewis is an award winning thespian with a ridiculously long list of roles. One of her biggest roles was in the 1991 Scorsese film, Cape Fear, that got het nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award. Other roles that Juliette has starred as are, August: Osage Country, Nerve, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and The Other Sister. Her television roles include, Wayward Pines, The Firm, and My Name is Earl.

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Lisa Whelchel | Blair Warner

Ah, Blair Warner, the snobby girl in the bunch. Lisa Whelchel played the role of the beautiful and bubbly, Blair, from the very first season until the very last. During the first season of the show though, Blair had a completely different personality. Writers made Blair rebellious and unruly, not listening or caring of others. However, when season two came about, Blair had a total change of heart and behavior, since producers thought it fit her better, and the character of Jo was introduced, and Jo encompasses everything rebellious that Blair initially had.

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Lisa Whelchel | Blair Warner

Since the end of The Facts of Life, Lisa has gone into more of a singing and reality television show career. A devout Christian, Whelchel recorded a Christian music album, in which one of her songs – All Because of You, was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1984. Her reality television stint began with her participation in the show, Survivor: Philippines, where she finished in second place. In addition to music and reality shows, Whelchel also appeared in several television movies, like, Heart of Spring, A Snow Capped Christmas, and For Better or For Worse. Whelchel is divorced with three children.

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Nancy McKeon | Jo Polniaczek

Oh, Jo! Nancy McKeon landed the role of rebellious and witty, Jo Polnianczek. Nancy played Jo from the second season to the end of the show. Jo’s character was introduced as a way of countering Blair’s initial character traits from season one, and add a little more spunk to the group of very girly girls. As the seasons went on, Jo got more and more refined and less boyish, but still didn’t let anyone take her for a ride!

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Nancy McKeon | Jo Polniaczek

Nancy’s career, after The Facts of Life, went from good to better. She went on to play the role of Jinny Exstead on the show, The Division, in addition to a role on Disney Channel’s Sonny with a Chance. McKeon’s personal preference has always been to television movies, such as, A Cry For Help: The Tracey Thurman Story, Comfort and Joy, and The Wrong woman. In 2003, Nancy married her longtime boyfriend and has since had two children with him.

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