The role of Tootie was not specifically written for a black actress. Kim Fields was simply the only African-American to audition.
Tooties rollar skates are blue, however, in the first episodes they are white. And also in season 8 where Tootie is auditioning for a role that requires rollar skates, she says she has a pair of her own, they would still fit her feet when she's twenty?
The same actor who played Mrs. Garrett's fiancÚ Ted Metcalf in season 6 also played the store detective at Harrisons Department Store, who busted Jo for shoplifting in season 2.
The opening theme song was performed by Charlotte Rae during the first season.
Originally, the premise of the series was that Edna Garrett, the housekeeper on "Diff'rent Strokes" (1978), became the headmistress at the school that Kimberly Drummond (Dana Plato) attended. But after the pilot episode, the producers decided to keep Plato on "Diff'rent Strokes" (1978) and there was never any mention of Kimberly being a student at Eastland again.
In the first season, there were seven students in the main cast. After the first season, the producers decided to drop four characters from the main cast: Molly Parker (Molly Ringwald), Cindy Webster (Julie Anne Haddock), Sue Ann Weaver (Julie Piekarski) and Nancy Olson (Felice Schachter). But Haddock, Piekarski, and Schacter continued to appear occasionally until the third season.
Mindy Cohn wasn't an auditionee for the show. When the producers visited a girls' school to see how the girls interacted, she was a social magnet just being herself, and they created Natalie based on Cohn. She was then tested in the role.
Nancy McKeon joined the cast in the second season by proving that she could not only act tough enough to play Jo - but also cry on cue.
Kim Fields was only nine years old when she started playing Tootie, who was supposed to be twelve. In an effort to make her appear taller (and older) her character was always in roller skates for the first year of the show.
There was an episode written where Blair was suppose to lose her virginity, but Lisa Whelchel refused to do it because of her strong religious beliefs. The episode was rewritten with Natalie (Mindy Cohn) losing her virginity instead. It also was the only episode in the series history that Whelchel did not appear in.
During the last season, David Spade was in an episode that was supposed to be turned into a spin-off series called "Big Apple Blues" about college roommates living in New York City, but it never materialized.
Even though Kim Drummond never ended up at Eastland like the original plot of the series had planned, the show still was connected to the "Different Strokes" universe with Mr. Drummond and Arnold making a few guest appearances.
The character Jo was inspired by then NBC Chief Fred Silverman after he had seen the film Little Darlings. He felt a streetwise scholarship student would contrast well, and add conflict, against the rich, spoiled Blair character.
Eastland was located in the Westchester County town of Peekskill, New York, which is located roughly forty miles north of Manhattan. With a commute of less than forty five minutes to Manhattan, this explains the relative ease in which Manhattanite Blair and Bronx-born Jo are able to go home as often as they do, and also helps to explain the continuous interaction between the Drummond family and Mrs. Garrett after her departure from their household.
If the show had returned for a tenth season, the producers had planned for Blair to buy Eastland to save it from being closed down. However, those plans never came to fruition due to the series' cancellation.
Mrs. Garrett is from Wisconsin, which is Charlotte Rae's native state in real life.
The character of Blair was originally conceived as a down-home charming Texas girl. However, during her audition for the role Lisa Whelchel read several of Blair's lines sarcastically. Producers were so impressed by Whelchel's audition that the rewrote the character to be that of a self involved New York blue blooded socialite.
During the course of the show it was revealed that Mrs. Garrett and Beverly Ann hailed from Appleton, Wisconsin; Blair and Natalie hailed from Manhattan; Jo hailed from the Bronx, and Tootie from Washington D.C.
In the Episode, A Man in the Attic, Blair changes from her old hair do to
her 80s hairstyle in the middle of the episode. And in the episode, Two Guys
from Appleton, 4 episodes before A Man in the Attic, Blair already had her
80s hair style. A mystery or just a simple case of bad timing?
There was supposed to be a Facts of Life spin off after season nine which
centered on Blair and her new role as Headmistress. The show was never
picked up, however, a similar show premiered on the UPN in 1997 called "Social
Studies". The show's premise was about a rich snobbish girl (Julia Duffy)
who returns to her alma to find that it is about to be closed. She invests
all her money to keep the school going, but has to admit boys as well.
Sara Valentine, Madison, and Carla are roommates at Woodbridge Academy
Boarding School. Sara is an aloof popular blonde with an attitude. Madison is
studious and introverted-- the oppposite of Sara. Meanwhile Carla tries to
keep the two from killing eachother. Julia Duffy is Headmistress Francis
Harmon, an uptight blueblood who tries to keep order over the students and
the faculty. Ms. Kathryn Weaver is a hip History teacher. Dan is the Tony
Danza-esque gym teacher. Aired March 18, 1997 to April 22, 1997.
Most people know that first season cast member Julie Piekarski (Sue Ann Weaver)
was a New Mouseketeer along with Lisa Whelchel in 1977-1978. What some folks
may not know is that the show had a guest appearance in Season Two by another former
New Mouseketeer, Shawnte Northcutte. Shawnte appeared as Madge in the episode
titled "Who Am I?" which aired 12/17/80.
Mayim Balik (From the comedy "Blossom")
was on the show. She was in the last two episodes and was the Eastland student who stuffed her bra.
In the movie, Facts of Life Down Under, look at the part where Andy is opening the gate for the sheep, he sits down on the top of the gate, and then when the camera gets another shot of the sheep coming in the gate, Andy isn't there sitting on top of the gate, he has disappeared.
Jo is named after her grandfather, Joseph Polniaczeck.
Beverly Ann is also named after her grandfather, Boris Ann.
Charlotte Rae's real life sister is named Beverly Ann.
Natalie has a sister, they show and mention her only once.
Blairs mother in the episode Like Mother, Like Daughter is not the same actress as in Season 2 through 9.
Tooties Father appears in only one episode.
Natalie is adopted, and her real mother is named, Ellen Manhiem.
That Tootie wore rollar skates in the first season to make her look taller, because she was much younger than the rest of the girls.
Thomas Byrd guest starred in two episodes, one as Blairs boyfriend who was on cocaine, he also played a mentally challenged kid in the third season.
Chip Fields, Kim Field's real life mother, also played her television mom on "The Facts of Life."
In Facts of Life Goes to Paris, Chip Fields playes Frank Bonner's Boss.
In Season 8, episode Out of Peekskill the very last step on the top of the staircase is missing the blue carpet.
In Season 5, Blair does not dye her hair Blonde, however; in Season 8 she reveals she was never a true blonde.
The last episode Geri Jewel appears in is All By Herself, Season 5, they never mention or show her again. It was said that Geri was offered a final episode in the series but turned it down. Basically, they fired her.
The living-room fire place is surrounded by two doors, the door on the left is the front door, but the one on the right is the garage door, sometimes when the girls come in or go out the garage door, you can see the outside, there is no garage. Other times you can see the garage wall.
In the main living room, on Season One at Eastland, the grandfather clock always has the same time on it.
The original "FOL" concept was not new? Facts of Life was a revamped idea taken from a CBS sitcom called "Dorothy". "Dorothy" had a really short run - only three or four episodes before getting the ax. It starred Dorothy Loudon and Linda Manz. The premise was basically the same as the start of the second season with Manz playing Nancy McKeon's part. It's not that well known a fact. The article was in People Magazine, Sept. l978, either the 18th or 23rd issue. The premise of the Dorothy Loudon show to "The Facts of Life" (second season), there are many similarities.
If you know any other interesting facts about the show, please email me.