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'Facts of Life' star files for divorce after long-term marriage

Texas TV viewers may remember the 80's sitcom "The Facts of Life." One star of that show, Lisa Whelchel, who played the wealthy Blair Warner, can now be seen on the hit TV show "Survivor: Philippines."

Why would the actress want to put herself through the agony of "Survivor"? According to an interview, she took the job to help her make a fresh start after her divorce from her husband of almost a quarter of a century. The divorce was filed quietly and was finalized on March 1. Whelchel shipped off to the Philippines for "Survivor" on March 10.

Whelchel and her husband met at prayer group in 1986, while Whelchel was still acting on "The Facts of Life." Her husband, 61, is a pastor with the evangelical Church on the Way. When the show was taken off of the air, the couple worked together in Christian ministry. Whelchel, 49, is a Christian author and speaker, as well as an Emmy-nominated performer of contemporary Christian music. She has been outspoken about her life and her relationship with her husband, particularly in her memoir, which is also called "The Facts of Life."

"I just never thought it would happen to me," she recently told "People" magazine about the divorce. "It was painful to realize that it wasn't going to work out." However, she says that she and her husband remain good friends.

As for competing on "Survivor," she described her experience as challenging and cathartic -- a bit "like childbirth."

"Those days on the island were the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. It pushed me to my extreme limits physically, mentally, spiritually, and especially, emotionally. I'm so very grateful for the opportunity and I'm so glad I did it," she told reporters. "Going out to Survivor was helpful for me, to divert my attention and not just dwell on the loss."

The couple's children are adults, so no child custody decisions needed to be made. Details of how the couple divided their assets, whether there was a prenuptial agreement in place, and whether either spouse receives spousal support were not revealed to the press.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Lisa Whelchel Divorce: 'Survivor' And 'Facts Of Life' Star Leaves Husband After 24 Years," Sept. 21, 2012

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