One of the most successful American sitcoms was 1975’s One Day at a Time. At the time, it was a groundbreaking series for following the life of a divorced mother raising her two daughters – only the second divorced mom shown on American television! Having a predominantly female main cast coupled with a divorced female lead on a network channel allowed the show to showcase a different model of the American nuclear family and issues related to second-wave feminism.
The show was one of the longest-running sitcoms, with its ninth and final season airing on CBS in 1984. It helped the career of many of its main cast members, but that was such a long time ago. It’s about time to check in to see what everyone’s been up to since the show!
Bonnie Franklin as Ann Romano
Before making waves on television, Bonnie Franklin made her acting debut on Broadway in 1970. She even earned herself a Tony nomination for her role. This was the beginning of several years of doing live theater in and out of New York. On television, Franklin booked a few gigs as a guest star on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Hazel.
She also had a recurring role on ABC’s Gidget and even served as the director for a couple of episodes of Charles in Charge and The Munsters Today. Bonnie Franklin was best known for her role as Ann Romano on One Day at a Time. Her portrayal of such an independent, divorced mom catapulted the character into groundbreaking territory in the mid-’70s to mid-’80s.
Bonnie Franklin Passed Away
Due to her powerful depiction of Ann Romano on One Day at a Time, Franklin was nominated for a number of awards, including the Primetime Emmys and the Golden Globes. The show ended in May 1984, and Franklin jumped into several theater productions. She continued to book guest star roles on a number of television series and TV movies.
In 2011, she appeared on her former TV daughter, Valerie Bertinelli’s show Hot in Cleveland. The following year she booked a recurring role on The Young and the Restless, which ended up being her last acting credit. In September 2012, it was made public that Franklin was undergoing treatment for a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. About six months later, in March 2013, Franklin passed away at the age of 69.
Valerie Bertinelli as Barbara Cooper
Valerie Bertinelli wasn’t acting for very long before she landed the role that would change everything for her. Her first appearance on television was on an episode of Apple’s Way on CBS. Shortly after that episode aired, Bertinelli was approached by Norman Lear, who was producing a new sitcom for CBS.
That sitcom turned out to be One Day at a Time, and Bertinelli landed the part of the younger daughter, Barbara Cooper. At just fifteen years old, she had no problem embodying the character’s good-girl and cooperative nature. Bertinelli starred in almost every episode of One Day at a Time before ending its nine-year run in 1984. She won two Golden Globes for her performance as Barbara.
Smaller Projects and Van Halen
A couple of years before the show ended, Bertinelli famously married Van Halen co-founder Eddie Van Halen. Come 1984, after a long run on a sitcom as successful as One Day at a Time, Bertinelli had trouble finding another project that was as well-received. She found herself mostly booking parts in TV movies and guest-starring roles on TV shows. Bertinelli starred in short-lived shows like 1990’s Sydney and 1993’s Café Americain.
Bertinelli starred as Gloria in the TV series Touched by an Angel for two seasons starting in 2001. When she started the show, Bertinelli announced that she and Van Halen were separating but dedicated to co-parenting their son. Their divorce was finalized in 2007, which was when she became a Jenny Craig spokeswoman for their weight loss program.
Successful TV Series and Author
A year later, Bertinelli published her autobiography Losing It: And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time and then followed it up with Finding It: And Satisfying My Hunger or Life Without Opening the Fridge in 2009. After releasing her two books, Bertinelli returned to television with TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland.
The show’s cast also featured Wendie Malick, Jane Leeves, Betty White, and a special guest appearance from Bertinelli’s former TV mom, Bonnie Franklin! In 2011, Bertinelli got remarried while still on the show. Hot in Cleveland aired its final episode in 2015 after six seasons.
Valerie Bertinelli: Culinary Star
Bertinelli made quite the professional pivot to the Food Network after Hot in Cleveland came to an end. Starting in 2015, she began hosting her own cooking show, Valerie’s Home Cooking, which won two Daytime Emmys in 2019 for Outstanding Host and Outstanding Program.
Bertinelli also served as the host/judge for Food Network’s Kids Baking Championship, Family Restaurant Rivals, and Family Food Showdown. In July 2021, Bertinelli announced that she would be writing and releasing a new memoir in January 2022, entitled Enough Already: Learning to Love the Way I Am Today.
Mackenzie Phillips as Julie Cooper
Performing was in Mackenzie Phillips’ blood from the minute she was born! Her dad, John Phillips, was one of the members of the American group The Mamas and the Papas. When she was only twelve, she starred in the movie American Graffiti.
Phillips rose to fame when she landed a role in 1975’s One Day at a Time. She played Julie Cooper, the rebellious older sister. Even though she started off as a main character, Phillips’ role shifted to a recurring one and then was eventually written out of the show completely due to her substance abuse.
Battles With Substance Abuse
During the third season of One Day at a Time, Phillips was arrested. Due to her substance abuse of both alcohol and drugs, Phillips stopped coming to set on time and was sometimes drunk or high during rehearsals. In an effort to get her back on track, the show’s producers mandated that she take six weeks away from the show.
Their strategy didn’t work as well as they had imagined, and Phillips was fired in 1980. After getting fired from the show, Phillips suffered two near-fatal drug overdoses. As a result, she voluntarily checked herself into a hospital rehab program.
Written Off the Show
In 1981, Phillips finished her treatment plan and rejoined One Day at a Time at the producers’ invitation. Things seemed to have improved until Phillips relapsed with cocaine in 1982. After a full year of cocaine use, she ended up collapsing while working on set.
The show’s producers asked her to take a drug test, but Phillips adamantly refused. Left with no other choice, the producers permanently fired her and wrote her character out of the show. Starting in the mid-’80s, Phillips performed with The New Mamas & the Papas.
The New Mamas & the Papas
The group was her dad’s idea as a way to keep the original band’s brand alive. Both John and Mackenzie Phillips toured with this group until the early ’90s. Throughout their time together in the band, the father-daughter duo fed into each other’s substance addictions which had an effect on some of their performances.
A decade after she relapsed on cocaine, and five years after the birth of her son in 1987, Phillips joined a nine-month-long, intensive drug rehab treatment program. After leaving the band and finishing treatment, Phillips starred in Disney’s TV series, So Weird from 1999-2001.
A Lifelong Battle
Addiction is a tough battle that lasts a lifetime, even for people who successfully complete treatment programs like Mackenzie Phillips. There was a good chunk of time that Phillips stayed clean and out of the news for drug-related activities.
But in August 2008, she was arrested for possession of cocaine when she was trying to travel through Los Angeles International Airport. Two months later, she pled guilty and went to a drug diversion program. After finishing the program, Phillips joined the cast of Celebrity Rehab for its third season in January 2010.
The Release of High on Arrival
Mackenzie Phillips had been through so much during her life that she decided to publish a memoir to reclaim her narrative. In September 2009, she released High on Arrival. She didn’t hold anything back in the book, as she described the start of her drug use and how her father forcibly began an incestual relationship with her.
While promoting the book, Phillips appeared on Oprah and said that it was a horrific abuse of power dynamics. Phillips’ family was split when these allegations came to light about whether or not they believed that this happened.
Mackenzie Phillips Now
Phillips has been steadily guest-starring on shows like ER, Cold Case, and Criminal Minds. She also booked a couple of recurring roles on Milo Murphy’s Law and Orange Is the New Black. In 2012, Phillips won the Meritorious Achievement Award at the L.A. Femme International Film Festival.
In 2016, Phillips had a personal full-circle moment when she began working as a drug rehab counselor at a recovery center in Pasadena, California. When the One Day at a Time reboot came out in 2017, Phillips made several appearances throughout the show’s run as a school counselor.
Pat Harrington Jr. as Dwayne Schneider
Pat Harrington Jr. had been acting in comedy sketches with recurring characters and guest-starring on TV shows for many years before landing a part on One Day at a Time in 1975. He starred as the building’s odd superintendent, Dwayne Schneider.
The Schneider character was a nice comedic presence for viewers to balance out the tough topics tackled in the show. He would often give advice that no one asked for and would just show up at the Romanos’ apartment. Harrington won both a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award for playing Schneider.
Pat Harrington Jr. Passed Away
Harrington considered his time on One Day at a Time as the pinnacle of his acting career. After the show came to an end in 1984, he took a noticeable step back from the entertainment industry. Reprising his role as Schneider, Harrington appeared in several commercials even after the show finished.
He appeared in only a handful of projects after 1985, including Murder, She Wrote, and The Golden Girls. In 2012, Harrington appeared on his former costar Valerie Bertinelli’s sitcom Hot in Cleveland for his last on-screen acting role. Harrington passed away in January 2016 at age 86.
Show Producer Norm Lear
Norm Lear is the man who made One Day at a Time happen! Lear started in the entertainment business as a writer for American television but quickly moved into the producer role. Over his career, he helped produce and develop classic sitcoms such as All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Maude, and Good Times for big networks like CBS and NBC.
He served as a producer on One Day at a Time and was one of the biggest influences in developing the show. He even went so far as to help recruit some of the show’s leading actors.
Norm Lear Now
In 1986, Lear started his own entertainment and media company, Act III Communications. Lear and his company helped produce some big movies like The Princess Bride, Stand By Me, and Fried Green Tomatoes. 2017 was a huge year for Lear.
He was one of the recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors, and he became the executive producer for Netflix’s One Day at a Time reboot. He has won five Emmys over the course of his career, the latest one being in 2019. He also won two Peabody Awards and has a coveted star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Glenn Scarpelli as Alex Handris
Glenn Scarpelli’s father was the artist behind the famous Archie comic books, so artistic expression ran in the family. Scarpelli started off on Broadway when he was only ten years old. In 1979, he starred in the revival of Richard III alongside Al Pacino.
One year after this Broadway show, Scarpelli got the call that he had landed the role of Alex Handris on One Day at a Time and joined the cast in its sixth season. The character of Alex became one of the main characters during the sixth, seventh, and eighth seasons.
Glenn Scarpelli Now
After the show, Scarpelli released a pop album, but that was his last official move in the music world. When Scarpelli left One Day at a Time before its final season, it was to star in another sitcom called Jennifer Slept Here.
It only lasted one season, but he managed to earn a nomination for a Young Artist Award. After that, Scarpelli booked a few guest-starring roles on shows like MacGyver and Interns: The Web Series. His most recent television role was a guest appearance on the Netflix reboot of One Day at a Time in 2019.
Michael Lembeck as Max Horvath
Michael Lembeck got his start in television by booking guest appearances on several shows, including The Partridge Family, The Funny Side, and Happy Days. From 1976-1977, Lembeck played the local TV news reporter on the satirical soap opera Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.
Two years later, he landed the role of Max Horvath on One Day at a Time. The character of Max is a flight attendant who ends up marrying Julia Cooper, played by Mackenzie Phillips. Lembeck was a main character on the show during its fifth and ninths seasons and considered a recurring character during the seventh and eighth seasons.
Michael Lembeck Now
Starting in the ’90s, Lembeck made the transition to directing projects rather than starring in them. He directed episodes of famous shows, like Friends, that garnered several Emmy nominations and even won him one in 1996! Lembeck also directed episodes of According to Jim, Californication, Hot in Cleveland, and the One Day at a Time reboot.
From 2012-2017, he served as the director and executive producer of ABC Family’s (Freeform) Baby Daddy. He also directed several movies, including The Santa Clause series sequels, Tooth Fairy, Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure, and The Bling Ring.
Boyd Gaines as Mark Royer
Boyd Gaines’ first few projects in show business were well-known film projects. In 1980, Gaines appeared as Michael in both the TV show and film version of Fame. The following year, he landed the part of Coach Brackett in the movie Porky’s.
The same year that Porky’s was released in theaters, Gaines landed the role of Mark Royer on One Day at a Time. He began as a recurring character in the show’s seventh season but was promoted to the main cast for the eighth and ninth seasons as Barbara’s romantic interest.
Boyd Gaines Now
After his character, Mark Royer, married Barbara Cooper and One Day at a Time finished, Boyd Gaines moved on to some more film projects. He played Jason in 1985’s The Sure Thing and Lieutenant Ring in 1986’s Heartbreak Ridge. Gaines has continued making TV guest appearances on everything from Law & Order to The Good Wife.
His real claim to fame is on Broadway, where he has starred in both plays and musicals. Gaines has won four Tony Awards for his work on Broadway and was the first actor to earn Tony nominations in all four of the acting categories.
Nanette Fabray as Grandma Katherine Romano
Nanette Fabray initially became a star on Broadway and won a Tony Award in 1949 for her starring role in Love Life. While Fabray was performing on Broadway, she also appeared on TV shows like The Ed Sullivan Show and Caesar’s Hour, which earned her three Emmys.
In 1961, Fabray starred in the sitcom Westinghouse Playhouse. She landed the guest role of Grandma Katherine on One Day at a Time during its fourth season in 1978. For Seasons Five thru Eight, Fabray had a recurring role until she was finally made part of the main cast during the last season.
Nanette Fabray Passed Away
After One Day at a Time, Fabray appeared and participated in several game shows. In the early ’90s, she guest-starred on Coach as a motherly figure like the one she portrayed on One Day at a Time. Her last stage performance was 2007’s The Damsel Dialogues.
Fabray was a lifelong advocate for the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities as she was someone who had overcome a serious hearing impairment. She won several prestigious awards for her advocacy work over the course of her life. Nanette Fabray passed away at the age of 97 in February 2018.
Shelley Fabares as Francine Webster
Shelley Fabares first appeared on TV at the age of ten and continued to book guest appearances for decades. In 1958, she landed the role of Mary on The Donna Reed Show and released an album. Fabares starred opposite Elvis Presley in 1965’s Girl Happy and soon after went back to guest-starring on TV.
In 1971, she earned a Golden Globe nomination for her role in Brian’s Song. After recurring roles on The Brian Keith Show and The Practice, Fabares joined the One Day at a Time cast as Barbara Cooper’s rival co-worker, Francine Webster.
Shelley Fabares Now
After six seasons of recurring appearances on One Day at a Time, Fabares moved on to guest star on shows like Murder, She Wrote, The Love Boat, and Mork & Mindy. Her biggest role came when she was cast as Christine Fox on ABC’s Coach. The show lasted for nine seasons before ending in 1997.
For the role of Coach, Fabares was nominated for two Emmy Awards. In 1994, Fabares was awarded the Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement Award by the Young Artist Foundation for her portrayal on The Donna Reed Show. She retired from acting in 2006.
Richard Masur as David Kane
Before getting involved in any television or film work, Richard Masur studied theater at the Yale School of Drama. He guest-starred in The Waltons and All in the Family in 1974. Then Masur booked a gig as Ann’s divorce attorney David Kane on One Day at a Time.
David and Ann dated, got engaged, and ended up calling off their wedding because they disagreed about wanting more children. Masur started off as part of the main cast for the first two seasons but then only returned as a guest in Season Six.
Richard Masur Now
After parting ways with the character of David Kane, Richard Masur starred in the TV movie Fallen Angel in 1981. The following year, he starred in the cult classic horror/sci-fi film, The Thing. In 1988, Masur played Mr. Anderson in License to Drive, which also featured Corey Haim and Corey Feldman, who guest-starred on One Day at a Time.
Masur starred as Phil Sultenfuss in both 1991’s My Girl and the 1994 sequel My Girl 2. More recently, he has had guest appearances on numerous television series like The Good Wife, Transparent, Younger, and Hawaii Five-O.
Ron Rifkin as Nick Handris
Rob Rifkin started his long and flourishing acting career as far back as with 1966’s Gidget in a guest-starring role. Between that and joining One Day at a Time in 1980, he appeared in Adam’s Rib, The Bob Newhart Show, and The Mary Tyler Moore Hour.
Rifkin signed on to play Nick Handris, Ann’s second boyfriend and Alex Handris’ uncle on One Day at a Time. During the show’s sixth season, he was part of the main cast but was killed off by a drunk driver between the sixth and seventh seasons.
Ron Rifkin Now
After One Day at a Time, Rifkin had several stand-out roles that helped define his acting career. In 1997, he landed the role of District Attorney Ellis Loew in L.A. Confidential. Other films he appeared in include Keeping the Faith (2000), The Words (2012), and A Star Is Born (2018).
In television, Rifkin starred opposite Jennifer Garner as Arvin Sloane in Alias starting in 2001. Then, from 2006 to 2011, he starred as Saul Holden opposite Sally Field on Brothers & Sisters. He also had recurring roles on Law & Order: SVU, Gotham, and New Amsterdam.
Mary Louise Wilson as Ginny Wrobliki
Mary Louise Wilson is a theater girl through and through. Her Broadway debut came in 1963 as Sue Ann in Hot Spot. After several years on Broadway and right after a revival of Gypsy, Wilson landed the part of Ann’s best friend and new neighbor, Ginny Wrobliki, on One Day at a Time.
She made quite the impact for only having been part of the cast for the second season. The exit of Wilson’s character was pretty abrupt and left viewers curious since other character departures had been explained in their last episodes.
Mary Louise Wilson Now
Fans speculated why Mary Louise Wilson’s character was written off the show, and Bonnie Franklin’s jealousy or Wilson’s unhappiness making television were rumored explanations. After the show, she continued to perform in Broadway and Off-Broadway productions like Cabaret and Grey Gardens. In 2007, Wilson won a Tony Award for her role in Grey Gardens.
Besides theater, she continued to have guest-starring roles on television series such as Maude, Frasier, The Sopranos, Nurse Jackie, Orange Is the New Black, and Modern Family. She also appeared in movies as recent as 2018 when she was in Ocean’s 8.
Mark Hamill as Harvey Schneider
As early as 1963, Mark Hamill was making a name for himself by booking guest appearances on notable television shows like General Hospital and The Partridge Family. In 1976, in One Day at a Time’s second season, Hamill guest-starred on the show as Harvey Schneider, the superintendent’s nephew.
He played a teenager who had a habit of stealing things and was only featured in a single episode. This specific One Day at a Time episode wasn’t as memorable as those in later seasons, but Hamill was able to pass as a teenager despite being 25 at the time!
Mark Hamill Now
One year after his guest role on One Day at a Time, Mark Hamill landed the role of Luke Skywalker in a little project called Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. Since then, he has been widely considered as science fiction royalty.
Outside of Star Wars franchise projects, Hamill has done mostly voice acting for video games and TV series. Some of his most recent roles were in 2019, reprising his role of Luke Skywalker in both the latest Star Wars film, Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker, and The Mandalorian TV series.
Did You Know That Corey Feldman Guest Starred?
One Day at a Time was not only known for helping elevate the careers of its main cast, but it was also a stepping-stone for many actors early in their careers. Before he became a huge star, Corey Feldman guest-starred in the show’s final season as Schneider’s nephew.
After his appearance on the show, Feldman became known for his working relationship with Corey Haim and starring in The Goonies, Gremlins, and Stand By Me. Outside of acting, he is known for his advocacy work concerning the sexual abuse of child actors in the entertainment business.
Did You Know the Show Was Set in Indianapolis?
The show was supposedly set in Indianapolis, Indiana, but in reality, no one really mentions anything related to the city during the whole series. Take the opening titles, for instance. Only during the fifth season did shots of the city of Indianapolis get added to the opening.
Then, as more characters were added to the main cast, the opening credits were stripped of most of the aerial clips of Indianapolis to make room. The clips went from including city landmarks like The Indianapolis Art Museum to only including shots of the Interstates.
Did You Know That Ginny Was Played by Two Actresses?
Technically, two different actresses portrayed the character of Ginny Wroblicki throughout One Day at a Time. In one of the pilot episodes, Marcia Rodd played the part. However, they took her out of the episode because showrunners thought that the character took attention away from Bonnie Franklin’s Ann Romano.
No one expected to see this character again but cast changes opened up a spot. During the third season, Mary Louise Wilson brought back the role of Ginny after Richard Masur’s character left the show. The comeback wasn’t for long as Wilson left after only one season.
Did You Know the Show’s Plot Was Based On a Real Single Mom?
The idea behind One Day at a Time came from TV writer Whitney Blake. It was supposed to star Blake and her daughter Meredith. Blake developed the concept of the show based on her own experience being a single mother raising her daughter back in the ’60s.
She brought the show around to major networks, but it wasn’t picked up until Norman Lear bought it in 1974. By that time, Blake and Meredith were too old to star in the show and were disappointed they couldn’t be part of bringing their own story to the silver screen.