‘Facts of Life’ star Lisa Whelchel explains why co-star Nancy McKeon missed special with Jennifer Aniston

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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.

Lisa Whelchel, left, and Nancy McKeon.
(Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)

Whelchel told the outlet that the women keep in touch.

“We have a little group thread we call the ‘sisters thread,’” she noted.

"The Facts of Life" originally aired from 1979 until 1988.
(Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

“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.

Lisa Whelchel appeared in the third reiteration of the Emmy® Award-winning "Live in Front of a Studio Audience," which featured live reenactments of the hit series "The Facts of Life," created by Dick Clair and Jenna McMahon, and "Diff’rent Strokes," created by Bernie Kukoff and Jeff Harris. 
(ABC/Christopher Willard)

“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.” 

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