10/10/2001 AT 02:28 PM EDT
TV's most popular class acts -- and where they are now -- are the focus of this week's PEOPLE cover story. This includes "The Facts of Life," the 1979-88 sitcom about four boarding schoolgirls under the watchful eye of Mrs. Garrett (Charlotte Rae). Most of the cast -- save for Nancy McKeon, 35, who has distanced herself from her tomboy character (Jo) -- has reunited for a TV film set to air Nov. 18. As for the gang, Mindy Cohn (Natalie), 35, continues to act and doesn't mind being recognized from reruns. "If my car were to break down," she says, "I could knock on any door and they'd let me come in and use the phone." Kim Fields (Tootie), 32 and now directing for TV, went on from the show to earn a B.A. from Pepperdine University and star on FOX's "Living Single." Rae, divorced since 1976, is still acting, mostly onstage near her homes in L.A. and New York City. And Lisa Whelchel (Blair), 38, has been married since 1988 to Steven Cauble, 51, a minister (they have three kids, Tucker, 11, Haven, 10, and Clancy, 8). She says, "If I didn't have kids, I would definitely go back (to acting) -- it's such a creative release. But it doesn't compare to being a mom."