lisa whelchelHer grandchildren affectionately call her “Cocomama,” but she won’t share with them how she nickname originated “for a while.”
The Facts of Life studentwho now hosts MeTV’s collector call, remember that Yahoo Entertainment received the name during a family trip to Europe after he tried, and overindulged in, the cannabis offerings at an Amsterdam coffee shop.
Whelchel, best known for playing ’80s TV icon Blair Warner, remembers traveling with her family in Europe. In Amsterdam, they stayed at a hostel called Cocomama while they explored the city.
“We went to this coffee shop, not knowing that coffee shops weren’t really coffee shops in Amsterdam,” he says with a laugh about the businesses, where customers buy and smoke marijuana or eat cannabis-infused edibles. “We decided: OK, sure. We’ll do it. We’ll have some. When we’re in Amsterdam!
“We ended up eating a space cake because I tried to smoke a joint and just coughed up a lung,” the Texas native continues. “The owner of the cafe said… ‘Just eat a little’, but of course, my daughter Clancy (Cauble, 30) and I, and we were all adults, it should be noted, we said: ‘Well, I don’t feel anything, I want a little else. We made the rookie mistake!”
Whelchel, who turns 60 this month, says they were “paranoid” except for Clancy’s then-boyfriend and now-husband, JJ Orantes, “who was able to keep his cool. To Cocomama! Just take us back to Cocomama!’ “
A week after their misadventure, Clancy and JJ got engaged in Paris and Whelchel told her, “‘Well, you don’t have to call me ‘Mom,’ but I don’t want you to call me Mrs. Cauble anymore, so think of a name. So decided to call me Cocomama to commemorate our wonderful and horrible experience together.”
The name stuck and has spread to the younger members of the family. She is now a grandmother in love with two and, yes, they call her Cocomama.
“We won’t be telling the grandkids how the name came to be for a while,” said the former child star, also from the mickey mouse club in the 1970s, he jokes.
Whelchel’s marriage to the father of her three children, also including a son. Fatigue, 32, and her daughter Haven, 31, broke up a decade ago and found love again with Pete Harris, a Nashville psychologist. They were legally married in December 2019 with plans for a March 2020 wedding, but were interrupted by COVID. His long-awaited reception will finally take place in July, and is expected to be a fun-filled family weekend with a nod to Survivorthe reality show in which she competed in 2012 after her divorce as personal challenge.
“It was going to be during COVID, and then of course we had to wait, and then my son was planning to get married, so we obviously didn’t want to have competing weddings,” she says.
As for what they’ve got planned, “we’re renting a big Airbnb in central California,” just with the family, “and we’re going to have a gaming tournament,” she says. “We’re a very competitive family. We love games. So we’re going to have three days of about a dozen different games, and Survivor type of obstacle course games too, with a championship. Then we’ll have a celebration there somewhere.”
Whether it’s a misadventure in Amsterdam or a Survivor wedding reception, Whelchel says, “Well, I love experiencing life. Some (experiences) are more fun, and some are scarier, than others,” he laughs. “But I’m always glad to live life as high as possible.”
More from our conversation with Whelchel, looking back on The Facts of Life 35 years after it ended in May 1988: It can be found here.