I was on Diff'rent Strokes for the show's first season, and Gary must have been about 11 years old at the time. I used to hold him in my arms and he was just light as a feather. He called me Miss Rae, and I said, oh no, you can call me Charlotte. I remember Gary as the sweetest, most adorable, kind, polite, eager, affectionate human being, filled with good spirits and joy.
The tabloid reports about his troubles later in life made me very sad. He suffered a great deal. He worked hard. He was very conscientious about his job. Even that first year, he was very eager. It was pretty obvious right away that he was just a special performer; he was really the king of the show at the time. I mean, we were all good. But what can I say? He was phenomenal. Everything that came out of his mouth was so adorable, so funny. But at the same time, he was just a little boy from Zion, Ill. And he gave joy and laughter to millions of people all over the world.
Rae, an actress, played Mrs. Garrett on the first season of Diff'rent Strokes and earned an Emmy nomination for the role on the spinoff, The Facts of Life
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