There was one star missing from the ABC special “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: The Facts of Life and Diff’rent Strokes” Tuesday night.
Lisa Whelchel, Mindy Cohn and Kim Fields from the original “Facts of Life” sitcom made an appearance, leaving some wondering what happened to fellow castmate Nancy McKeon.
“We missed Nancy McKeon,” Whelchel told Extra on Wednesday. “It was sad not to have the four of us together, but it’s always fun.”
“Nancy was home and they just recently moved and her kids just got into school, so it was difficult for her to make the trip out,” the 58-year-old shared.
Whelchel told the outlet that the women keep in touch.
“We have a little group thread we call the ‘sisters thread,’” she noted.
Jennifer Aniston took on Whelchel’s original role as Blair. The actress praised the 52-year-old’s performance.
“Are you kidding? Jen Aniston would not have had to say one word and I would have been honored that she played the part, but she just killed it – she was amazing,” Whelchel gushed.
“I showed up fangirling about everybody but I didn’t expect that this was… this was the show they grew up with. It went both ways, and that was a nice surprise,” Whelchel added.
“The Facts of Life” originally aired from 1979 until 1988. While Whelchel released a solo album in 1984, she didn’t release another after that.
Back in 2020, Whelchel admitted to Fox News that she didn’t “enjoy singing.”
“I’ve never thought of myself as a singer,” she explained at the time. “I’m not a great singer. Thankfully, even back then, they could do miracles with little turning knobs and buttons. The only reason I recorded the album in the first place was that I was on ‘The Facts of Life’ and I knew that it was teenagers watching it.
“I wanted to use my platform to be able to influence and impact teenagers in a way, specifically around my faith and letting them know that God loves them and that they are accepted just the way they are,” Whelchel continued. “But I knew if I stood up there and preached that, they wouldn’t listen for longer than five minutes. But if I put some of the things I wanted to say to music, then it would be entertaining, but it would also be, hopefully, impacting them with a message that was life-changing for good.
“So I approached a friend of mine who had a record company and said, ‘Can I do this?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ So once I did that, that was the only reason. It wasn’t because I wanted to have a recording career.”