Instagram.com/mindycohn | Getty Images
Source: Instagram.com/mindycohn | Getty Images

Mindy Cohn’s World Now after She Suddenly Felt Exhausted & Had to Fight for Her Life for 5 Years against Cancer

Junie Sihlangu
Mar 29, 2022
11:40 A.M.
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Mindy Cohn struggled with a disease that had her fighting for her life for years after finding out about it over an incident during a walk. She fought bravely and managed to come out stronger on the other side. 

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Mindy Cohn is a television personality and actress who's had the pleasure of having roles on small and silver screens and the theater stage. She's well-known for her role as Natalie Green in the comedy "The Facts of Life."

Cohn has also made appearances on "Diff'rent Strokes," "Suddenly Susan," "21 Jump Street," "Charles in Charge," and "The Help." At one point, she took a break from acting to study and earned a master's in education and a bachelor's degree in cultural anthropology.

Mindy Cohn as Natalie Letisha Sage Green on season 2 of "The Facts of Life" in 1980, and her in Liberty State Park on December  29, 2018. | Source: Herb Ball/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty Images & Instagram/mindycohn

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In Catholic School Girls, the actress was awarded a Dramalogue Award for her stage work and then returned to her television work. Cohn also does voice-over work as Velma on the animated "Scooby-Doo" series for some fans who aren't aware. 

She was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for her voice-over work. Some people might also recognize her from these movies, "I Heart Huckabees," "Under the Gun," and "Alone with a Stranger."

Mindy Cohn as Natalie Letisha Sage Green on season 2 of "The Facts of Life" in 1980. | Source: Herb Ball/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

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Her latest stage performance was in "Celebrity Autobiography." Cohn has since become less of a professional when it comes to cooking, but she joined "Worst Cooks in America: Celebrity Edition" to reintroduce herself to the art.

The star is generally a private person, but she's since opened up about her past battle with a dangerous disease. The actress revealed that she fought with her diagnosis for five years!

MINDY'S ROAD FROM A PUPIL TO A STAR

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In 1979, Cohn was a student at an all-girls private school called Westlake School for Girls in Bel Air. The star confessed in a 2013 Huffpost article that she probably wanted to be a doctor while growing up because she wanted to help people, with the star noting:

“Have I said anything at all about performing, or wanting to be an actress? No, sir.”

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The acting wasn't even on her radar, especially since her bat mitzvah performance left her feeling nervous and ready to faint or vomit. Two months later, television producers came to her school looking for students for a new sitcom enacted at an all-girls school.

Cohn and her friends volunteered to get out of doing the regular school day's work. She thought they'd only have that interview, but by the following day, she was called back to the headmaster, Mr. Reynolds' office, with Charlotte Rae stating:

“We asked all sorts of questions... But this one little girl had this funny little voice and she was fat, chubby, and Jewish. [She] would be a wonderful supplement to the other girls.”

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Rae had loved Cohn and asked the producers to create a role for her. Her mother agreed to her shooting episodes for the show over the summer instead of going to day camp, and it was a big thing for Cohn, who thought:

“Honestly, the whole thing seemed so fantastic I didn't know what to think.”

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Even though Cohn had no acting experience, she warmed up to her character, and by season three of "The Facts of Life," she began feeling like an actor. She stopped playing the role as herself and created a character for Green. 

When she wasn't working on the series, the star began taking other auditions and landed guest roles and a spot on the film "The Boy Who Could Fly." She loved snagging the position in the movie because the director didn't know who she was when she came to audition.

SURVIVING HOLLYWOOD'S CRITICISM AS A TEEN AND KEEPING HER ACTING GOING

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Cohn was only 13 when she started her role as Green in the 1980s. In 2013, she was now 46 and opened up about her experience of starring in the series at such a young age, stating:

“Imagine having your entire puberty onscreen. That’s what we lived with!”

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Speaking candidly, the actress confessed that things were quite different compared to 2013. She revealed one of the things she had to battle with back in the day, saying:

“At this stage of our lives, we’re both focusing on doing things on our own terms. But it’s different than when we were on 'The Facts of Life.' Weight was always an issue back then.”

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Her co-star, Lisa Whelchel, was only 16 when she nabbed the role of teenager Blair Warner. She supported Cohn's views about the battles they faced daily because of their weight issues, confessing it was:

“Our bodies were a topic of conversation... we knew what [they said]. Joan Rivers called us ‘The Fats of Life’.” "We didn’t talk about weight on-set, [we] were so tired of that conversation."

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Cohn worked long hours on set and had the pleasure of doing other fun things. The actress admitted, "I am definitely one of a group of underage stars who worked 12 hour days, hit the clubs, attended premieres, hung backstage at concerts, and globe-trotted."

Speaking about getting to voice Velma on "Scooby-Doo" for years, the star said, "What a rarity. I haven't felt unemployed in 11 years. How many actors can say that?" The actress shared how proud she was of all her acting roles at that point, noting this about her acting abilities:

"I know the difference between being an actor and being a star, and I'm 100 percent actor."

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MINDY'S SECRETIVE 5-YEAR BATTLE WITH A DISEASE

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In 2017, Cohn revealed to People magazine how she discovered she had cancer. Five years before, the actress mentioned, "I was walking around my neighborhood in Los Angeles, and I suddenly got so tired, I just couldn't go anymore."

She couldn't take another step and texted a friend, Helen Hunt, asking for help. The actress then went for a scan, and the doctor discovered the heartbreaking news that she had breast cancer and reacted this way:

“I kept that secret for a long time.”

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Cohn underwent chemotherapy, radiation, and a double mastectomy for five years. Throughout that time, she held to deal with the disease spreading and coming back and was left drained; and confessed, "I was frustrated and enraged. I couldn't control any of this. I couldn't fix it."

Luckily, the star is now cancer-free and ready for work, with her admitting: "I'm feeling great. And I'm so ready to get back to working. I think I'm a good actress, and I have a lot to offer. I'm excited to see what I get to do next!"

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Cohn has been fortunate to have a great support system throughout her cancer battle, with the star sharing, "I have so many friends who supported me during the siege. They're people who I consider my family by choice. They were always there for me."

The star told People how "The Fabulous Beekman Boys'" creators, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Dr. Brent Ridge, helped her recover from her diagnosis. She got to stay at their Sharon Springs, New York farmhouse to heal because it was far from everything. 

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The actress would help clean, stock shelves, feed the chickens, work in the garden, and keep busy on the farmhouse. Kilmer-Purcell and Ridge ended up seeing her as part of their family, with the former admitting:

“We knew that she was family the first time she came down to the kitchen in her bra.”

Cohn's diagnosis made it easy for her to see that she had friends who would be there for her no matter what. She confessed, "Having cancer was horrible, and I lived in a lot of sadness for a lot of the time. But the people in my life helped me through it, and I'll always be grateful."

COHN'S LIFE NOW: DOES SHE HAVE A HUSBAND AND KIDS?

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In 2017, Cohn revealed that she wasn't married and didn't have a husband. However, she explained that she didn't feel alone, saying, "I don't have a husband — and for the record, I'd be happy to find a husband — but I'm not alone."

It was said they [Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt] made her [Mindy Cohn] the godmother to two of their six children...

The star continued, "I've got so many people who I love to spend time with. I can be strong for them, and I can ask them for help when I need it. I am almost overwhelmed with how many people I've got in my life," adding "Sure I want a husband, kids -- a family of my own. I always have."

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Speaking to HuffPost, she also noted, "And while I am not with the man of my dreams (and I can't wait to meet him and find out what the hell he's been doing!) I have never defined myself by what I don't have."

However, things weren't easy for her, with Cohn sharing, "But as my childhood friends were getting married and I wasn't, I glamorized this situation a la Katherine Hepburn, as 'I was married to my career,'" adding:

"I love the craft of acting, have embodied real success: the respect of your peers, quality work, connection, and have created a life filled with love, collaboration, inspiration, humor, and adventure."

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Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie at Los Angeles International Airport with their children, Pax, Maddox, Shiloh, Vivienne, and Knox Jolie-Pitt on February 5, 2014, in California. | Source: GVK/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images/Getty Images

While Cohn doesn't have any children of her own, in 2010, rumors went around that she had formed a friendship with former couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. They allegedly made her the godmother to two of their six children, but the actress refused to confirm or deny the rumor.

An Us Weekly source once claimed Jolie and Pitt gave Cohn a "huge" diamond ring to thank her for being a good role model to their children. The insider said the ring was "unbelievable" and boasted "four or five carats," and the star seems to be doing well, judging from her Twitter and Instagram accounts.

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