Lisa Whelchel. The Facts of Life And Other Lessons My Father Taught Me. Colorado Springs, Co.: Multnomah Books, 2001.
This autobiography describes a busy and public life that included much religious devotion. Whelchel was adopted and grew up in Texas. She realized God’s love at age 10.
The future TV star was a shy child. She was enrolled in a summer theater program. The teacher was impressed and recommended, and her parents agreed. That Whelchel should take professional acting instruction. Whelchel studied acting, dancing, mime, etc. for five years. She was very disappointed when she wasn’t picked for a school talent show. She decided to learn ventriloquism to develop her entertainment skills. The next year, as a 4th grader, her act won her public school’s talent show.
A Disney Studio audition happened locally without Whelchel knowing about it. Her teachers and directors wrote enough letters to Disney that they decided to audition her. They loved her and selected her to be a Mousketeer on the “New Mickey Mouse Club” TV show. She did 186 episodes. She also was in live performances at Disneyland. The TV show was canceled when she was 13. She did some movie roles and TV guest appearances. She was faced with a choice of accepted a role on an existing TV series, “Hello Larry” or a role on a new series, “The Facts of Life”. Her choice of “Facts of Life” gave her several years on TV whereas “Hello Larry” did not last as long.
Whelchel’s character Blair was to lose her virginity during sweeps week to boost ratings. Whelchel objected as sex before marriage was against her views and she felt her character was a role model. The producers yielded to her. A later episode involved another character losing her virginity. She asked not to appear on the episode and her request was granted.
The 5’3” inch Whelchel wore high heels so her character would appear taller.