'Sopranos' actor urges Congress to protect pancreatic cancer research


“The survival rate [of] 6 percent hasn’t changed in 40 years,” Grimaldi notes. “We sincerely need the funding so that researchers can find ways just to treat it, and early detection and hopefully cures.”

Rae, a pancreatic cancer survivor best known for her role as housemother Edna Garrett in the ’80s series “The Facts of Life,” puts it more bluntly, saying of Congress, “They got to kick ass. They got to get some money in there so we can get the research and save thousands and thousands of people.”

The pair says they’re thankful that lawmakers passed H.R. 733, the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act, but are urging them now to do more.

“Our survival rate is so low and we need all that funding that was taken away from us so that we can get an early detection test that’s affordable for everybody,” says Rae.

When they’re not lobbying Congress, the two television regulars say they’ve been busy chatting with fans of their respective shows at the Capitol. Says the 87-year-old Rae, “I’m cockeyed from taking pictures, but I’m delighted to do it.”

And as a cast member on a show about the mafia, Grimaldi even had time to express bewilderment at the news that investigators in Michigan were once again conducting a search for the remains of Jimmy Hoffa, whose 1975 disappearance amid alleged connections to organized crime has long been considered a mystery: “I don’t know why we have a fascination with Jimmy Hoffa … I don’t think they’ll ever find Jimmy Hoffa, but I think we’ll keep finding places where he can potentially be.”


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