Bonnie Franklin, the actress who created an indelible television character playing a divorced, working mother of two headstrong daughters on the long-running series “One Day at a Time,” died Friday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 69.The cause was complications from pancreatic cancer, her family announced.
By the mid-1970s, Franklin was a theater veteran who had earned a Tony nomination for her performance in the Broadway musical “Applause” when she was offered a different kind of role, one that was not then the usual fare on network television.
Developed by Norman Lear, the new CBS series would tell the story of Ann Romano, a divorced woman in her 30s raising two teenagers and building a new life for herself in her hometown of Indianapolis. Franklin’s character wasn’t the first divorced woman on network television but the role, like those of other characters in Lear’s groundbreaking sitcoms, was infused with a new level of social realism.
Franklin was nominated for an Emmy in 1982 and twice nominated for Golden Globe awards for her portrayal of Romano.
Over its run from 1975 to 1984, which made its tenure among the longest of Lear’s series, “One Day at a Time’ tackled such provocative issues as teen sex, birth control and infidelity.
Bonnie Gail Franklin was born in Santa Monica, Calif., on Jan. 6, 1944. Her parents were immigrants; her father, an investment banker, came to the U.S. from Russia and her mother came from Romania.
Throughout her career, Franklin was a multifaceted performer, putting together nightclub acts and working in both comedic and dramatic roles. Among the latter, she played the main character in a 1980 CBS television movie about birth control activist Margaret Sanger, a role Franklin described as one of her most significant.
In 1980, she married television and film producer Marvin Minoff, with whom she had worked on the set of “Portrait of a Rebel,” the movie about Sanger. They remained married until his death in 2009.
Survivors include her mother, Claire Franklin, and stepchildren Jed Minoff and Julie Minoff.