Bonnie Franklin, Star of One Day at a Time, Dead at 69

Iconic mom on TV sitcom


TV just lost one of its first modern mothers.

Before Bonnie Franklin — who died Friday at the age of 69 of pancreatic cancer — and her hit Norman Lear sitcom One Day at a Time arrived on the scene, most television mothers were either stay-at-home wives or working widows. But Franklin's Ann Romano was something new: a divorced mother of two raising two teenage daughters in a small urban apartment while struggling to relaunch her career and her love life.

In a TV universe just beginning to take note of the real-world social changes happening beyond its screen, the sunny but sometimes hot-tempered Ann and the short, spunky redhead who played her were a breath of fresh (if sometimes hot) air. For nine CBS seasons, from 1975 to 1984, Franklin guided audiences through some of the hot-button issues of the day — premarital sex, sexual harassment, child abandonment — in a show that mixed comedy and soap in equal measure.