For years Americans knew Lisa Whelchel as Blair Warner on "The Facts of Life." She left the spotlight to focus on her other passions, becoming an outspoken Christian advocate, public speaker and author. But now she's looking to forge a new television identity as Lisa Whelchel on "Survivor: Philippines."
In the season premiere of the stalwart reality series, Lisa was in no hurry to reveal her identity to anyone. With the castaways split into three tribes of six, she only had five other people to worry about. But while none of the younger players seemed to recognize her at all, returning player Michael Skupin knew that smile immediately from watching her show.
Still, he kept her secret. It may well come in handy strategically later. Plus, he's curious as to what her strategy is out there. Another famous celebrity out there was baseball player Jeff Kent. He too was recognized immediately by someone on his tribe, but once again this person chose not to reveal his millionaire identity to anyone. Whelchel admitted to the cameras she'd already lost all the money she made on television, so she's not coming into the game with that kind of wealth.
Skupin was joined by two other returnees, and all three of them avoided elimination in this first episode. Russell Swan only narrowly avoided it, though, when fellow tribemember Zane Knight played a terrible game of "chess." He asked to be eliminated, hoping his tribe liked him enough to keep him. Apparently, they liked him enough to vote him out, despite it being largely Russell's terrible leadership that cost them the challenge.
The adventure continues on "Survivor: Philippines," Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.