Definitely sounds like a bitter "fact of life" to swallow. Now 86 years old, Charlotte Rae is known and beloved by TV fans as Mrs. Edna Garrett, the widowed, maternal woman looking after Jo, Blair, Tootie and Natalie on classic 80s sitcom The Facts of the Life. But before she became a TV star, the actress dealt with some very serious real-life heartache.
As she writes in her memoir The Facts of My Life -- currently being shopped around to book publishers -- Rae's 25-year marriage to composer John Strauss ended in 1975 with a shocking confession: Shortly after the couple had moved to Los Angeles, Strauss told his wife that he was gay and had cheated on her.
"First came the shock of what he had done behind my back, then the sting of being deceived for years," Rae, who wed the Amadeus soundtrack composer in 1950 and bore him two sons, writes (as excerpted on Page Six). "All I could feel was the betrayal and, worse than that, my shame."
The admission shattered Rae's self image, she admits. "John's secret confirmed my feelings of inferiority . . . That I was less than a woman . . . That I didn't deserve to be loved and valued." Strauss passed away in 2011 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease.
A multiple Emmy and Tony nominee, Rae first appeared as Mrs. Garrett in the first season of Diff'rent Strokes in 1978 before landing a spinoff series in Facts of Life; Diff'rent Strokes' elder star, Conrad Bain (Mr. Drummond) passed away last week at age 89.
This article originally appeared on Usmagazine.com: Charlotte Rae, Facts of Life Star: My Husband Was Gay, Cheated on Me