One Day at a Time (1975-84)

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents




Though the series was created by Whitney Blake (formerly an actress on TV's Hazel), One Day at a Time definitely showed the imprint of Norman Lear, its powerhouse producer. The series, like other Lear comedies, strove to be topical, progressive, even controversial, and to mix serious issues with more comical elements. At times the mix was less than even, yet it proved to be very popular and One Day at a Time was one of the most successful series of the 1970s and 1980s, outlasting many of Lear's other, more highly praised series.

The program centered around Ann Romano, a television character who found herself struggling through many of the same experiences facing real American women. Married at 17, Romano was now divorced, raising two teenagers more or less on her own, and entering the job market for the first time since her marriage. Played by Bonnie Franklin, Romano was not TV's first divorced woman or mother (Diana Rigg in Diana proceeded her as did Vivian Vance on The Lucy Show), but she was probably--to that time--the most realistic. Romano struggled with money, fighting for every penny of the child support that was supposed to come from her frequently deadbeat husband. She struggled with finding a job. And she struggled to be both father and mother to her two children, Julie and Barbara.

Just as the portrayal of Ann was without romanticism, so was the depiction of her two children. Throughout the series Barbara and particularly Julie dealt with issues of birth control, sexuality, virginity, alcohol and other substances with an honesty and forthrightness that Gidget and other previous TV teens never dreamed of.

Rounding out the cast was apartment building superintendent Schneider (his first name was hardly ever used) who, over the course of the series, played a more and more important role in both the program's plots and the lives of the girls. He also frequently supplied some much needed comic relief in the midst of the ongoing exploration of serious topics.

One Day at a Time went through many cast changes during its run and developed various, almost convoluted plot twists and turns. When the show began Ann was working for an advertising agency, then later founded her own company. One season she became engaged, only to have her fiancee killed by a drunk driver. Then, for a time following his death, she became legal guardian to his teenage son. Daughter Julie married and had a baby only later to abandon her new family. Ann's mother (played by veteran actress Nanette Fabray) eventually became a series regular, appearing in almost every episode. Finally, daughter Barbara married--having remained a virgin until her wedding night--and the next season Ann ended up marrying Barbara's father-in-law. The series ended with Ann, now remarried, moving to London with her new husband to take an exciting new job.

But for all the problems that were played out in front of the cameras, just as many occurred behind the scenes. Actress Mackenzie Phillips was fired from the series in 1980 due to her ongoing drug addiction. Phillips would later return to the series only to be written out again when she suffered other health problems.

In some ways, one of TV's first "dramedys" (a hybrid of drama and comedy to be later embodied by series such as The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd), One Day made extensive use of multi-part episodes (one three-parter dealt with Julie running away from home), focused on contemporary issues (one episode dealt with teen suicide), and incorporated political messages into its stories. Nothing was ever easy or dealt with offhandedly on One Day at a Time. Its decision not to shy away from difficult themes, its warts and all portrayal of contemporary life, especially of women's lives and of female adolescence, sets it apart. Thus the series helped expand the dimensions and role of U.S. television comedy.

Less loud-mouthed and politically explicit than Lear's other feminist comedy heroine, Maude Finley, Ann Romano (who took back her maiden name after her divorce and preferred to be referred to as "Ms.") was more middle of the road and therefore easier to relate to as a realistic, "taken from life" type of character. This wide appeal, along with the series stars Bonnie Franklin, Pat Harrington, Jr. and Valerie Bertinelli, allowed the show to endure for an eventful and trend setting nine year run.

-Cary O'Dell


Ann Romano (Royer).............................. Bonnie Franklin  

Julie Cooper Horvath (1975-80 1981-83)............... Mackenzie Phillips

Barbara Cooper Royer........................... Valerie Bertinelli

Dwayne Schneider.............................. Pat Harrington, Jr.  

David Kane (1975-76)............................. Richard Massur  

Ginny Wrobliki (1976-77).................. Mary Louise Wilson  

Mr. Jerry Davenport (1976-79).................. Charles Siebert  

Max Horvath (1979-80, 1981-84)........... Michael Lembeck

Katherine Romano (1979-84)................... Nanette Fabray  

Nick Handris (1980-81).................................. Ron Rifkin  

Alex Handris (1980-83)............................ Glenn Scarpelli

Francine Webster (1981-84).................. Shelley Fabares  

Mark Royer (1981-84)................................. Boyd Gaines

Sam Royer (1982-84).......................... Howard Hessman

Annie Horvath (1983-84)............... Lauren/Paige Maloney


Norman Lear, Mort Lachman, Norman Paul, Jack Elinson, Alan Rafkin, Bud Wiseman, Dick Bensfield, Perry Grant, Allan Mannings, Patricia Fass Palmer, Katherine Green


205 Episodes


December 1975-July 1976   Tuesday 9:30-10:00

September 1976-January 1978   Tuesday 9:30-10:00

January 1978-January 1979   Monday 9:30-10:00

January 1979-March 1979   Wednesday 9:00-9:30

March 1979-September 1982   Sunday 8:30-9:00

September 1982-March 1983   Sunday 9:30-10:00

March 1983-May 1983   Monday 9:30-10:00

June 1983-February 1984   Sunday 8:30-9:00

March 1984-May 1984   Wednesday 8:00-8:30

May 1984-August 1984   Monday 9:00-9:30

August 1984-September 1984   Sunday 8:00-8:30


Castleman, Harry, and Walter J. Podrazik. Harry and Walter's Favorite Shows: A Fact-Filled Opinionated Guide to the Best and Worst on TV. New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1989.

Mitz, Rick. The Great TV Sitcom Book. New York: Perigee, 1983.

Nanette Fabray on her role as "Ann Romano's" mother on One Day at a Time
Hal Cooper on directing the pilot for One Day at a Time
Tucker Wiard on working on Good Times, All in the Family, Maude and One day at a Time
Norman Lear on creating One Day at a Time, and on casting Bonnie Franklin as "Ann Romano"
Who talked about this show

Hal Cooper

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Hal Cooper on directing the pilot for One Day at a Time

Pat Harrington, Jr. with Emerson College

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Pat Harrington, Jr. on playing "Dwayne Schneider" on One Day at a Time
Pat Harrington, Jr. on writing for One Day at a Time, and on the message of the show
Pat Harrington, Jr. on Mackenzie Phillips' personal problems during the run of One Day at a Time
Pat Harrington, Jr. on the end of One Day at a Time

Nanette Fabray

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Nanette Fabray on her role as "Ann Romano's" mother on One Day at a Time
Nanette Fabray on working with her niece Shelley Fabares on One Day at a Time

Norman Lear

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Norman Lear on creating One Day at a Time, and on casting Bonnie Franklin as "Ann Romano"
Norman Lear on casting Pat Harrington, Jr. as "Schneider" on One Day at a Time

Donald A. Morgan

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Donald A. Morgan on lighting different skin tones for television in the 1970s -- on One Day at a Time

Rita Riggs

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Rita Riggs on costuming for One Day at a Time
Rita Riggs on costuming Bonnie Franklin as "Ann Romano" on One Day at a Time
Rita Riggs on costuming Valerie Bertinelli and Mackenzie Phillips as "Barbara and Julie Cooper" on One Day at a Time, and on the process of costuming on a regular series
Rita Riggs on costuming Pat Harrington, Jr. as "Dwayne Schneider" on One Day at a Time

Tucker Wiard

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Tucker Wiard on working on Good Times, All in the Family, Maude and One day at a Time

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