Bonnie Franklin (AP Photo / Richard Drew)
Bonnie Franklin played many roles throughout an acting career that lasted almost 60 years, but one stands out. It's the role that made her famous and earned her a TV Land Innovator Award: single mom Ann Romano on the TV sitcom One Day at a Time. On the anniversary of Franklin's birth on Jan. 6, 1944, we're tipping our hats to that memorable character and the actress who gave her life.
Debuting at the end of 1975, One Day at a Time brought us a character the likes of whom had rarely been seen on television: a divorced single mother. Though women all over the country were running households and bringing up the kids after their marriages ended, they didn't see themselves much on television. TV moms were either happily married or respectably widowed, with the notable exception of Vivian Vance's character on The Lucy Show a decade earlier. But Vance's tribulations as a single mom weren't the focus of The Lucy Show. One Day at a Time centered on the day-to-day difficulties Franklin's Romano faced as she raised her teenage daughters, played by Mackenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli, whose career the show launched.
One Day at a Time also broke new ground by highlighting hot-button issues of the 1970s feminist movement: premarital sex, sexual harassment and more. Romano was a modern, independent woman, juggling a career and two daughters whose lives weren't always easy. As the show followed their stories, it explored the effect divorce had on children, a new topic on TV in the 1970s. Oh, and it made us laugh, too, as it very frankly tackled the struggles that real families were dealing with.
The show ran from December 1975 to May 1984. For her performance, Franklin was nominated for an Emmy Award and twice for a Golden Globe.
Franklin died March 1, 2013, of complications from pancreatic cancer. She was 69.
Written by Linnea Crowther. Find her on Google+.