06:14 AM EDT 07/24/2014
Originally posted 07/19/2014 04:25PM
When Lisa Whelchel and Kim Fields landed starring roles on The Facts of Life in 1979, they had no idea that their characters would become '80s icons – or that they'd become such close friends.
After Facts ended in 1988, the girls (along with Nancy McKeon and Mindy Cohn) went their separate ways but always kept in touch.
Originally posted 06/26/2014 01:30PM
Over the course of nine seasons on The Facts of Life, Lisa Whelchel was an expert at taking the good with the bad.
Originally posted 11/24/2013 09:50AM
Lisa Whelchel has tried every exercise in the book – and she's suffered the injuries to prove it.
"I hurt my shoulder playing racquetball, I have a lower back injury from an aerobics class and I messed up my feet while training to climb Mount Whitney," she tells PEOPLE. "Even on Survivor, when I did the mud challenge, I developed sciatica that has continued to give me trouble."
So what's an active gal to do? "I decided to make my own exercise video," says Whelchel, who turned 50 in May. "It's a doable full-body workout that you can do in 20 minutes. It has stretching, resistance, cardio and a cool down. Exercise is different once you get a little older. It doesn't always have to be high impact."
Originally posted 01/17/2013 03:00PM
Prepare to see more of Lisa Whelchel.
Almost 25 years after The Facts of Life went off the air, Whelchel, 49, has joined the cast of Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas.
But instead of playing a spoiled prep school student, she'll be someone in charge. "I play the role of Nancy Porter, the country school principal," Whelchel tells PEOPLE. "I'm having fun!"
Since The Facts of Life ended, Whelchel has put her career on hold to raise her three children, acting in just two TV movies. (Her last role was a Facts of Life reunion in 2001.)
Originally posted 12/20/2012 09:50AM
She didn't win the million dollars, but Lisa Whelchel still cleaned up on Survivor: Philippines.
After tying for second place with Mike Skupin (prize money for the tie: $87,500), she received an extra $100,000 for being crowned the player of the season – an award chosen by the viewers. Plus: she also received an extra $10,000 for attending the live finale. But Whelchel tells PEOPLE that the experience may have done more than just line her pocketbook.
"I didn't really go into Survivor to restart my career," says Whelchel. "I loved the game, and I wanted to play it. That really was my sole reason. I wanted the adventure. I'm really thankful that there were people out there who liked how I played it. It's very flattering."
Originally posted 12/17/2012 08:00AM
The latest season of Survivor was volatile, cutthroat and ultimately satisfying with the crowning of the show's newest winner on Sunday night.
After an intense final tribal council, where the unrepentant final three pled their cases, sex therapist Denise Stapley beat returnee Mike Skupin and former Facts of Life star Lisa Whelchel by a vote of 6-1-1. The win capped off an invigorating competition that Jeff Probst called "a wild, unpredictable season."
Stapley won $1 million and the title of Sole Survivor.
Originally posted 12/13/2012 11:45AM
"You're going to want to show that either you were the top villain or the top hero or the top something. You're going to want to show you had the gameplay to get you there, and you even turned on your own to get you there. That is the game."
– Rupert Boneham, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains
Oh, Lisa. I don't know why week to week I let you toy with my heart the way you do.
Almost every episode, Lisa announces her Survivor coming-out. She's been passive – but she's finally ready to take control of her destiny and make a big move. Tonight. Seriously. Right now.
Except it never quite comes together. The wrong person wins immunity or the right person makes a heartfelt appeal. "I could've played a great game," Lisa told her brother last week, channeling Marlon Brando in On The Waterfront.
Originally posted 12/04/2012 04:45PM
They're hungry. They're tired. They're uncomfortable. But by day 31, Survivor contestants can often struggle with crippling homesickness.
As one of the most emotional contestants on Survivor: Philippines, Lisa Whelchel developed a coping mechanism to survive being away from her family. "I tried not to think about my loved ones at home, except to pray for them," Whelchel tells PEOPLE. "But I couldn't help but anticipate and hope that I made it long enough in the game to get to see my brother."
On Wednesday's episode of Survivor, Lisa is visited by her younger brother, Justice Coleman, 28, a pastor from Chatsworth, Calif., and the visit didn't go as planned.
Originally posted 11/29/2012 04:45PM
Stephen Fishbach was the runner-up on Survivor: Tocantins and has been blogging about Survivor strategy for PEOPLE.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter @stephenfishbach.
"You need to pick one side or the other. You can't keep flipping."
– Amanda Kimmel, Survivor: Micronesia
Hey guys – I have a secret. It's a really, really big secret. You'll never discover it. Not even if you follow me around all day. Look – just follow me a little. Please? For your sake. This secret is frickin' huge. It's going to change everything.
Okay, here's a hint. Starts I. Ends with DOL.
It's an immunity idol, alright?! And I have this secret paper here, which proves it. But I'm going to rip it up into little pieces. Because it's soooo secret.
Poor Abi. Is there anything more heartbreaking in this broken world than someone pretending that they have a secret? The dreamy Malcolm said it best on Survivor: she's like a wounded ex-girlfriend.
Originally posted 11/29/2012 11:30AM
Lisa Whelchel is full of surprises. Sitting in her home outside Dallas, she still looks every bit like Blair Warner, the pretty rich girl from the 80s sitcom The Facts of Life. But what she's saying is decidedly un-Blairlike.
"I'm outdoorsy," she says. "I love to exercise and be outside. I don't care what I'm wearing, and I don't care if I'm uncomfortable. I am nothing like Blair."
Whelchel, 49, has proved this to fans of Survivor: Philippines, in which she has demonstrated hard work around camp, a surprising proficiency for puzzle challenges, plus all the backstabbing and social skills necessarily to go deep into the game. (She made the final six without a single vote cast against her.)
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