Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Name: Nancy McKeon
Birthdate: April 4, 1966
Famous Years: 1979-Present
Currently Known For: Dancing With the Stars
|Networth: $6 Million||Famous For: The Facts of Life, The Division, Alice|
April 4, 1966
Dancing With the Stars
The Facts of Life, The Division, Alice
There have been many attempts at spin-off television series over the years, but few were as successful as “The Facts of Life”. The show was derived from “Diff’rent Strokes”, and throughout the 1980s would be one of the most successful shows on television. One of the stars of the show doesn’t do much acting anymore these days, but Nancy McKeon (who played Jo Polniaczek) enjoyed a long career thanks to the series.
McKeon was born on April 4, 1966 in Westbury, New York, and quickly got into acting along with her older brother, Philip (best known for the series “Alice”). Nancy would start to land brief acting roles, appearing in several commercials that included one for Hallmark where she used her ability to cry without being provoked. For an actress, that would be a useful talent, and helped her to land her big break. When her brother started to appear on “Alice”, McKeon’s family headed out west to Los Angeles, where she started to land roles herself. This included brief appearances on shows such as “Starsky & Hutch” and the TV film “Return to Fantasy Island”, and even a minor role in an episode of her brother’s show.
When the 1980s kicked off, McKeon would continue to appear in TV films and had her first series with “Stone” where she played a starring character. Meanwhile, “The Facts of Life” had already gotten started, but seemed to be falling apart quickly. Many of the starring cast members left, including Molly Ringwald. Producers needed to replace some of the departed actors, and McKeon was picked to fill in when the second season had begun.
McKeon played the role of Jo throughout almost all of the 1980s, appearing in nearly 200 episodes from 1980 to 1988. During that time, McKeon would also appear in several TV movies, including “High School U.S.A.”, “Firefighter” and “Strange Voices”. She had become known for her famous “The Facts of Life” role and her TV movie career at this point, but branched out a bit in the 1990s.
During that decade, she’d appear in four movies, which included “Where the Day Takes You” and “The Wrong Woman”. She’d also get back into a TV series, starring in the shows “Can’t Hurry Love” and ‘Style & Substance” in the second half of the decade. However, both of those shows would last for under 20 episodes. It wasn’t until 2001 that McKeon would find a sustained TV series that she starred in, as she played Inspector Jinny Exstead on “The Division” for nearly 90 episodes.
Since her role on “The Division” came to an end, McKeon has been on television a handful of times. She’d pop up in a few more TV movies, and then had a recurring role on the Demi Lovato-led Disney Channel series “Sonny With a Chance” in 2009, and her most recent acting role came in 2011’s TV movie, “Love Begins”.
Fans of McKeon’s that had been wondering what she’d been up to in the past few years would get their answer in late 2018. It was announced then that McKeon would be participating on the 27th season of “Dancing with the Stars”. McKeon was paired up with Valentin Chmerkovskiy, and had to go up against celebrities such as Mary Lou Retton, John Schneider and DeMarcus Ware.
When talking about the tomboy character from “The Facts of Life” that made her famous, McKeon had to joke about it regarding her reality TV appearance. According to McKeon, Jo “would’ve kicked me out of the neighborhood. That’s exactly what she would’ve done. It would not have gone down well.”
For McKeon, it was a big step after being away from the spotlight for so long. At first, she wanted to say no to “Dancing with the Stars”, but said that her family persuaded her. “I think I would’ve said no again because it’s terrifying, but (my family) said, ‘No, we really think that you should do this and it will be something good for you,’” she said.
So why has McKeon chosen to step away from acting for nearly a decade now? She’s been married to husband Marc Andrus since 2003, and the couple has had two daughters since then. For McKeon, that’s been a full-time job that’s received the most focus. That doesn’t mean that she’s done with acting for good, just that her schedule has to line up with what’s being asked of her.
“When I choose to step away (from home), the timing has to be right,” she said. For the most part, she wants to pick roles that film in the summertime so that her daughters can travel with her. Interestingly enough, McKeon’s daughters don’t know much about her acting career. “They don’t really know about mom’s ‘other’ job. They just know my cooking, cleaning and carpooling,” she said.
As for whether or not she’s still in touch with her former “Facts of Life” co-stars, you don’t have to worry as they’re still good friends. “We all see each other when we’re in town, or whenever we can get together,” she said. “They’re my sisters, you know? Forever, and they’re so supportive.” Some more good news for her fans, she also wants to get back into acting on a full-time basis in the future, and there have even been talks about rebooting “The Facts of Life”. “It’s something I just love to do, and so I definitely want to step back into doing that.”