Born in 1944, Bonnie Franklin was an American actress, singer and dancer who broke into acting in her teens, when she landed a few television roles. For nearly a decade, starting in 1974, Franklin played Ann Romano, a loving but tough divorced mother on the hit TV show One Day at a Time. After the show ended in 1984, Franklin made several other television appearances and directed. She died from pancreatic cancer on March 1, 2013, in Los Angeles, California.
Early Life and Career
Bonnie Gail Franklin was born on January 6, 1944, in Santa Monica, California. For nearly a decade, Bonnie Franklin played Ann Romano, a loving but tough divorced mother on the hit television show One Day at a Time. She started out as a tap dancer as a child and landed a few television roles while barely in her teens. In the 1960s, Franklin made a few guest appearances on such classic television shows as The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Gidget and The Munsters.
Before making it big on the small screen, Bonnie Franklin had found success on Broadway in the 1970 musical Applause. The play was a musical interpretation of the 1950 film All About Eve and starred Lauren Bacall as an aging stage actress fending off a much younger rival played by Penny Fuller. In a supporting role, Franklin sang the title song and earned a Tony Award nomination for her work.
'One Day at a Time' and Other Projects
In the fall of 1974, One Day at a Time aired for the first time. The sitcom, developed by Norman Lear, appealed to viewers with its humorous but realistic depiction of family life. It centered on Franklin's character and her struggle build a new life for herself and her two daughters, Julie and Barbara (played by Mackenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli), in her hometown of Indianapolis. The family was looked after by their apartment building superintendent, Dwayne Schneider (played by Pat Harrington Jr.), whether they wanted him to or not. Mixed in with the laughs, the show tackled difficult themes, such as teenage pregnancy.
While working on the series, Bonnie Franklin found time for other projects. Returning to the stage, she toured with an autobiographical cabaret act in early 1980s. Franklin also starred in several television movies, most notably as women's health activist Margaret Sanger in 1980's Portrait of a Rebel: The Remarkable Mrs. Sanger. During her time on set of the movie, Franklin grew close to producer Marvin Minoff, who became her second husband (she was previously married to Ron Sossi).
After One Day at a Time ended in 1984, Franklin made several other TV appearances. She starred in the 1987 TV movie Sister Margaret and the Saturday Night Ladies, and made guest appearances on shows such as Burke's Law and Touched by an Angel. Franklin also worked behind the camera as a director on several projects, including the syndicated series Munsters Today.
Later Career and Death
In the 1990s, Bonnie Franklin began devoting much of her time to regional theatrical work. She appeared in several productions, including Grace & Glorie, as well as in her own cabaret show. In 2005, Franklin directed a series of staged readings of Frankie and Johnny in the Claire De Lune by Terence McNally. That same year, she joined with her One Day at a Time co-stars for a television reunion special.
Bonnie Franklin continued to make appearances on the stage and small screen, including a recurring role as a nun on the daytime soap The Young and the Restless, but was eventually slowed by pancreatic cancer. She died in Los Angeles, California, on March 1, 2013.
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