Jessica Max Stein

Pioneering Facts of Life Star and Disability Activist Comes Out

Filed By Jessica Max Stein | February 17, 2011 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Gay Icons and History
Tags: cerebral palsy, facts of life, geri jewell, Jessica Max Stein, lesbian

Ever wish that smoldering Jo Polniaczek on 80s sitcom The Facts of Life was a dyke?

Well, keep wishing. But the show's recurring guest star Geri Jewell has come out as a lesbian in her upcoming memoir, I'm Walking as Straight as I Can: Transcending Disability in Hollywood and Beyond.

Jewell pioneered a different kind of visibility as the first person with cerebral palsy to play a regular role on prime-time television. Her Facts of Life character Geri Tyler,
cousin of blonde Blair Warner, incorporated Jewell's existing standup routines, addressing her condition with self-deprecating yet respectful humor.

The Buffalo, New York native went on to play the comedic spitfire character Jewel on historic Western drama Deadwood, and also appeared on 21 Jump Street and The Young and the Restless. Her memoir is due out in April.

Clips of Jewell's work after the jump.

As a courageous undercover cop on 21 Jump Street:

And here's a surprisingly funny mashup of Jo and Blair to Katy Perry's "Hot and Cold":


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Welcome to Bilerico, Max! What a great post to start your tour of duty! :)