Today marks the 56th birthday of “The Facts of Life” star and Velma from Scooby Doo, Mindy Cohn. She faced many challenges in her life, including cancer, yet she never gave up dreaming.
Mindy Cohn, a veteran actor, “accidentally” became an instant television sensation as a teenager after appearing on the most successful American sitcom of 1979, “The Facts of Life,” which ran for nine seasons until 1988.
Young Cohn never considered a career in the performing arts. She grew up wanting to be a doctor because she wanted to assist people and had a “knack” for it.
Actress Mindy Cohn as Natalie Green in the American sitcom, “The Facts of Life,” on January 1, 2000 ┃Source: Getty Images.
In the eighth grade, Mr. Reynolds, the headmaster of Cohn, entered their classroom in search of kids ready to participate in TV producers’ arranged interviews. They wanted their scripts to be as accurate as possible because they would film a sitcom with a school for only girls as its setting.
Cohn and her friends decided it would be good to take a break from class to enjoy some fresh air, so they raised their hands to indicate their interest and exited the room as the headmaster made his way to his office.
Once there, they came across television producers Norman Lear, Alan Horn, and seasoned actress Charlotte Rae. For an hour, the trio happily interrogated the girls on “all sorts of girls’ school questions” as they munched on doughnuts.
Mindy Cohn as Natalie Green in “The Facts of Life,” on May 2, 1980 ┃Source: Getty Images
That was supposed to be the last time they spoke, Cohn said. The universe, however, apparently had other ideas for her. When Mr. Reynolds came for her the next day at his office, she discovered she had left quite an impression.
“It seemed that Charlotte Rae had fallen madly in love with me, partly because I reminded her of her best childhood friend, Natalie, and I was irresponsible, charming, and hilarious. So she asked the show’s producers to write a part for me.”
Cohn was surprised by the offer, but she was excited and discussed the idea with her mother over dinner. Her mother then took the next day off work to accompany her to the meeting with the producers. She was informed that only four episodes would be shot, with production wrapping up at the end of the summer.
Luckily, Cohn and her mother concurred, and she decided to take the role of Natalie Green. Later, she kept reflecting on that experience: “I think we made the right decision.”
During the frequent commercial breaks, Cohn decided to hone her acting abilities, started attending auditions, and eventually landed guest appearances. She appeared in “Table Settings,” a New York stage version of James Lapine’s play, and later in “The Boy Who Could Fly.”
“My ‘Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll’ years were more like ‘Hand-jobs, Cigarettes, and Hair-holding,'” She added that she worked “12-hour days” while still a minor and frequented nightclubs, movie premieres, international destinations, and concert backstage areas.
Cohn mentioned that people encouraged her in the entertainment industry and connected her to openings. After trying out for an anime role, she started voicing Velma in the animated series and franchise “Scooby Doo.” In 2013, she talked about the possibility:
“I stepped into a billion-dollar industry that includes weekly animated series, DVD movies, and video games. I am now going on my 12th year as the voice of Velma. “What a rarity!”
Cohn’s life, however, has not always been easy. In 2012, she faced her most difficult challenge ever. She became exhausted while walking in her Los Angeles neighborhood one morning. The Emmy Award nominee recalls how difficult it was to get to her destination:
“I just couldn’t go anymore.” […]I texted my friend Helen Hunt and said, “Something’s wrong with me.” “I need help.”
When Cohn visited the doctor, a scan revealed something in her breast. Soon after receiving a biopsy, she received the following devastating news regarding her health:
“It was breast cancer.” “I kept that secret for a long time.”
The California native had radiation, chemotherapy, and a double mastectomy over the following five years. Even though she had a positive outlook on life, the incident impacted her, especially when it “metastasized” and “kept spreading and coming back.” As a result, Cohn became impatient with the conflict.
“I was frustrated and enraged.” I couldn’t control any of this. I couldn’t fix it.”
Later, she decided to leave Hollywood to heal in the company of her close friends, lifestyle experts Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Dr. Brent Ridge, widely known for their reality series “Beekman Boys.”
Cohn stayed with the couple on their 60-acre farm on the outskirts of Sharon Springs, New York, and fought cancer gently until she recovered. The “Violet Tendencies” actress is cancer-free and has returned to the world.
She expressed excitement about returning to work and the prospects for her acting career in the future. “I’m feeling great. And I’m so ready to get back to work. “I think I’m a good actress, and I have a lot to offer,” said Cohn.
At the farm with her friends, she publicly announced that she had been diagnosed with cancer and wanted to go there to focus on her recovery. Cohn said she could “heal” there “because it was away from everything” when she was in Sharon Springs. After all, she wanted to concentrate on her health.
While in the countryside, she continued to keep herself busy. In October 2017, Kilmer-Purcell told people she had cheerfully assisted in cleaning and storing “shelves” while caring for 113 goats.
“She’d go out and feed the chickens on the farm. She liked to keep busy.
Ridge explained that by peering through the window, he could see where she was on the property. She would “see her working in the garden.”
Cohn’s life appears to be returning to normal now that her disease is in remission. She played Velma in the “What’s New, Scooby-Doo?” remake and other voice and acting roles.
Cohn has a social media presence and is active on Twitter and Instagram. She also has a trip to Machu Picchu planned for 2023 with Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell.
Cohn is supposedly a single woman who plans trips and her job. She has never been married or given birth to children. She has, however, stated her wish to one day wed and, ideally, begin a family, which has always been her ambition.
In a serious discussion about her life, the “A Nice Girl Like You” actor has also admitted that she does not use drugs and is not in debt.
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