The Facts of Wife
Lisa Whelchel, The Facts of
Life's stuck-up Blair,
traded TV stardom for home-schooling.
Tresniowski and Samantha Miller
in Santa Clarita and Amy Brooks in Los Angeles
Blair Warner may have learned The Facts of Life at
boarding school, but Lisa Whelchel's three children will
learn them close to home. Whelchel, who starred as the
spoiled, rich Blair on the popular prep school sitcom,
which wrapped up its nine-season run 10 years ago, says
she has been listening to a tape about teaching kids the
birds and the bees. "My son's getting to be close to 9," she
says," so I thought, 'I want to be prepared.'"
And when the time comes for that Big Talk, Whelchel, now
35, will deliver it as both parent and teacher. Having
happily exchanged acting for married life just after taping Facts' finale,
the former actress's starring role these days bears little
resemblance to her old one: Shi is home-schooling son Tucker,
8, and daughters Haven, 6, and Clancy, 5.
Talent agents everywhere may scratch their heads at her
decision, but for Whelchel, a devout Christian, motherhood
beats Hollywood by a mile. As her three pupils gallop through
her airy, Spanish-style home in Santa Clarita, Calif.,
Whelchel, whose husband, Steven Cauble, 47, is a pastor
at their church, talks about her decision to turn her back
on the bright lights. "For the first few years, I thought
I'd go back to TV," says Whelchel (who now goes by the
name Cauble), her Texas drawl a far cry from Blair's upper
crust whine. "But if I did I'd only have about an hour
of influence in my children's lives every day. And I just
wasn't willing to put a price on that."
Whelchel, who left public school after sixth grade for
on-set tutoring and earned her high school diploma at 16,
is determined to shield her children from sex, drugs, and
violence. "Kids now come into contact with things at a
much earlier age, before the are ready to handler them," she
says. "I want them to have a fighting chance at the real
world, but they need to get strong first in who they are,
the love of their parents, the love of God."
Having joined the ranks of the 700,00 other home-schooling
families in the U.S., Whelchel gives lessons on history,
science, and math four morning a week, followed by afternoon
reading sessions. Monday, Cauble's day off, is reserved
for family field trips. "She's patient and dedicated," he
Whelchel sends her children to classes in art and musical
theater, and they frolic with friends in a weekly playgroup
she hosts. The kids seem contact with the program. Should
they ask to go to school, Whelchel says she would consider
it, "Bit if this keeps going well, I'll teach them until
they go to college."
Since the age of 10-when, she says, her desire to dress
up led her to attend church even without her parents-Whelchel
has been charting her own course. The daughter of Jimmy
Whelchel, an electrician in Fort Worth, and Jenny, a real
estate agent, Whelchel became a Mouseketeer on The
New Mickey Mouse Club at 12. In 1979 she landed on The
Facts of Life, developing fast friendships with her
costars. "It was such a bonding experience," adds Nancy
McKeon, who played Jo and remains Whelchel's close pal.
During off hours, Whelchel attended Cauble's church, which
is affiliate with the International Church of the Foursquare
Gospel, and the two wed in 1988.
Whelchel plans to join McKeon and ex-costars Kim Fields,
Mindy Cohn and Charlotte Rae this month for a party marking
the anniversary of the show's end. "I'd like to go back
[to acting] someday, but I just don't know when," she muses. "I
really don't want to leave my kids to chance at any age.
You need to be there when they need you."