Last Question: Which future “Brat Packer” was written off of The Facts of Life in 1980?
Answer: Molly Ringwald
The pilot for The Facts of Life was originally aired as the last episode of Diff’rent Strokes’ first season. Kimberly Drummond asked housekeeper Mrs. Garrett to help her sew costumes for a student play at East Lake School for Girls, the school Kimberly attended in upstate New York, as her dorm’s housemother had recently quit. Mrs. Garrett agreed to help, and we meet Tootie, Blair, Molly, Nancy, Sue Ann, Jennifer, Laura, and Mr. Crocker, the school’s headmaster. Mrs. Garrett helps put on a successful play, while also solving a problem for Nancy, and is asked to stay on as the new housemother.
The Facts of Life was originally meant to be a summer series in 1979, but the head of programming decided to bring it back in early 1980.
After the first season, the show was retooled. The producers felt that there were too many characters. Since the show was only a half hour long, they could not focus on each of the characters very well. Four of the original actresses — Molly Ringwald (Molly), Julie Anne Haddock (Cindy), Julie Piekarski (Sue Ann), and Felice Schachter (Nancy) — were written out of the show. Now the show was able to focus on Blair, natalie, Tootie, and Jo.
Three of the girls who were cut from the show after the first season returned in the fall of 1986 (season 8) for a “reunion of friends” in an episode titled, “The Little Chill.” Julie Ann Haddock, Julie Piekarski, and Felice Schacter reprised their roles of Cindy, Sue Ann, and Nancy, mentioning that Molly was unable to attend the reunion because she was so busy (a nod to actress Molly Ringwald’s successful film career after her departure).