Born on this date: Lisa Whelchel

facts of life cast
The Facts of Life cast: Tootie, Blair (Lisa Whelchel), Mrs. Garrett, Jo, Natalie

Lisa Whelchel, famous for her portrayal of the spoiled, narcissistic Blair Warner on The Facts of Life from 1979 to 1988, turns 51 today.

Whelchel survived The Facts of Life’s Season 2 purge, when the number of regulars was whittled down to four girls. Castmate Molly Ringwald was not so lucky. (Or maybe she was luckier, depending on your point of view.) From Season 2 forward, Blair was closest with schoolmate Jo, played by Nancy McKeon, though the two characters constantly clashed.

lisa whelchel with survivor backdrop
Lisa Whelchel on the red carpet after the live Survivor: Philippines reunion show

In 2004-05, Whelchel was in the public eye for her advocacy of hot-saucing as a method of disciplining children. “I prefer my child receive a small amount of pain from my hand of love than to encounter a lot more pain in life,” she said.

Whelchel was a contestant on Survivor: Philippines in 2012. None of the younger contestants recognized her (even though she still looks exactly the same), nor had they ever heard of The Facts of Life. Plus, to add insult to injury, they referred to her as “that older lady.” Those young punks. Stay off my lawn or I’m calling the police. I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.

hot sauce
Lisa Whelchel’s favorite tool for disciplining children

Below, Whelchel appears on The Talk with  Julie Chen, Sara Gilbert, and the other panelists dressed as The Facts of Life characters. Chen as Mrs. Garrett is worth a few chuckles, as is Gilbert as Jo. The question is raised about the persistent rumors that butch Jo was a lesbian. Born-again Christian Whelchel politely denies this and points out Jo had lots of boyfriends and got married in the series. Gilbert, a lesbian, notes that she had boyfriends herself, and quips that Jo might have been one of them.

Lisa Whelchel on The Talk with the panel dressed like The Facts of Life (Oct. 30, 2012)

Of course, I have to include the memorable theme song in this post. Although I like the first season’s opening the best, the lyrics from subsequent seasons seem to be more popular, so that’s what I’ve posted. “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both, and there you have…”

The Facts of Life opening credits, Season 2 (1980-81)


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