When Bonnie Franklin accepted the role of Ann Romano on the 1975 hit series One Day at a Time, it was rare to see a single mother portrayed on television. But the risk paid off for Norman Lear, who developed the series and saw the CBS sitcom not only succeed but thrive for nine seasons until its cancellation in 1984.
Lear reunited with series stars Valerie Bertinelli and Mackenzie Phillips, as well as series costars Glenn Scarpelli, and Michael Lembeck, and producer Patricia Fass Palmer to talk the lasting legacy of the sitcom and the Pop TV reboot for an episode of YouTube series Stars in the House.
Palmer, who worked as a producer on both the original One Day at a Time and the 2017 reboot starring Rita Moreno, Justina Machado, Marcel Ruiz, and Isabella Gomez, revealed an easter egg on the new show that pays tribute to the original. Thanks to Palmer's longtime friendship with Franklin, a special gift from the latter's family after her death in 2013 sits in the Alvarez home in her honor.
"Bonnie collected red-headed dolls, they were all over the house," Palmer says in the reunion video. "Her sisters gave that piece of pottery to me after she passed away. She sits upstage in the new show, and she watches over all of us. I feel her presence all the time."
Stars In The House/YouTube
"The first time Mackenzie saw [the doll], she went, 'Bonnie!' I didn't even have to explain," she added.
Phillips, who played Julie Cooper on the original series, recalled how the show was originally going to be about a single mom and just one daughter instead of two.
"I remember, and I don't know if you guys know this, but we did a pilot where Bonnie Franklin's character had one child — me," Phillips said. "It's actually up on YouTube, and I can't remember what it was called but I'm sure Patricia remembers."
"Hello, Ann," Fass chimed in.
Phillips continued, "And the network saw the pilot and they were like, 'Uh, yeah. Not this one.' And then Valerie became my baby sister and we had a hit."
Watch the full reunion in the video below.