One Day at a Time (1975 TV series)

Last updated
One Day at a Time
One Day At A Time title screen.jpg
Genre Sitcom
Created by Whitney Blake
Allan Manings
Developed by Norman Lear
Directed by
Theme music composer Jeff Barry
Nancy Barry
Opening theme"This Is It" performed by Polly Cutter
Ending theme"This Is It" (instrumental)
ComposerRay Barry
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons9
No. of episodes209 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
Camera setup Multi-camera setup, videotape
Running time24 minutes
Production companies T.A.T. Communications Company
(seasons 1–7)
Embassy Television
(seasons 8–9)
Distributor Sony Pictures Television or Columbia Tristar
Original network CBS
Audio format Monaural
Original releaseDecember 16, 1975 (1975-12-16) 
May 28, 1984 (1984-05-28)
Followed by One Day at a Time (2017–2020)
Bonnie Franklin, Mackenzie Phillips, and Valerie Bertinelli One Day at a Time female cast 1975.jpg
Bonnie Franklin, Mackenzie Phillips, and Valerie Bertinelli
Pat Harrington Jr. (1976) One day at a time schneider 1976.JPG
Pat Harrington Jr. (1976)

One Day at a Time is an American television sitcom that aired on CBS from December 16, 1975, to May 28, 1984. It starred Bonnie Franklin as a divorced mother raising two teenage daughters, played by Mackenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli, in Indianapolis.



The series was created by Whitney Blake and Allan Manings, a husband-and-wife writing duo who had both been actors in the 1950s and 1960s. The series was based on Whitney Blake's own life as a single mother raising her three children (including future actress Meredith Baxter) after her divorce from her first husband. [1]


Divorced mother Ann Romano moves herself and her teenage daughters, rebellious Julie and wisecracking Barbara, from their home in Logansport, Indiana, to Indianapolis. Ann frequently struggles with maintaining her role as mother while affording her daughters the freedom she never had as a young woman. Dwayne Schneider, the building superintendent, provides usually unwanted advice to the tenants, especially Ann.

Ann dates her divorce lawyer, David Kane and they become engaged, but on their wedding day David says he wants kids; Ann does not, so they call off the wedding.

After David takes a job in Los Angeles, the show focuses on Ann's dilemmas as single mother and career woman, as well as the girls' growing pains, with Schneider becoming a more welcome part of the family. Ann's strained relationship with her ex-husband Ed slowly improves, as does the girls' relationship with his new wife Vickie. Julie and Barbara graduate from high school and head into the working world. Julie eventually marries flight-attendant Max Horvath. Alex, the orphaned son of Ann's deceased boyfriend, moves in, changing the dynamics in the female-dominated apartment. Later in the series' run, Julie gives birth to daughter "Little Annie" Horvath, Barbara marries dental student Mark Royer, and Ann's mother Katherine moves nearby.

In the penultimate episode, Ann decides to take a job in London, leaving her daughters in Indianapolis raising their own families. In the series finale, Schneider also leaves town, moving to Florida to take care of his niece and nephew.


For its entire run, the series was taped in Hollywood before a studio audience. Originally, it was taped at CBS Television City. Shortly after its premiere, the series began taping at Metromedia Square, where it remained until 1982. From 1982 to 1984, the series was taped at Universal Studios.

Like many sitcoms developed by Norman Lear, One Day at a Time often tackled serious issues in life and relationships, particularly those related to second-wave feminism, and can be considered an example of the "dramedy" (hybrid comedy/drama) genre. [2] In an ironic twist, during the 1979-1980 season, Mackenzie Phillips was dealing with drug addiction and entered rehab in 1980, thus reflecting the Alcoholics Anonymous central sobriety saying, "One Day at a Time." [3] Stories depicting such events as weddings, births, and other important milestones frequently stretched over two-, three-, and four-part episodes.

Theme song and opening credits

The theme song for One Day at a Time, "This Is It", was composed by Brill Building songwriter Jeff Barry and his wife Nancy Barry, and performed by recording artist Polly Cutter. The opening credits were originally seen over a filmed sequence showing Ann, Julie, and Barbara excitedly moving into their new home. Later, the opening credits sequence mostly consisted of clips of each cast member taken from previous episodes.


Actors Bonnie Franklin, Pat Harrington, Jr., and Valerie Bertinelli were the only cast members to remain with the series throughout its entire run. Lead actress Mackenzie Phillips was fired after the fifth season due to growing problems with substance abuse. She later returned in a frequent recurring role. Original cast member Richard Masur was written out early in the second season, but returned as a guest-star in the sixth-season finale.

After Masur's departure, the producers tried going in a different direction: instead of Ann Romano being romantically involved with a man, she should have a comedic foil. For that role, producer Lear chose actress and comedienne Mary Louise Wilson, who had just completed a successful run on Broadway as Tessie Tura in a revival of Gypsy starring Angela Lansbury. Wilson was signed to play Ginny Wroblicki, a cocktail waitress who moves into Schneider's apartment building, and immediately becomes Ann's best friend and confidante. The shows' ratings began to decline soon after Wilson's arrival, as the character of Ginny Wroblicki proved to be unpopular with viewers. According to her memoir, My First Hundred Years in Show Business, prior to being cast as Ginny, Wilson had never seen One Day at a Time and immediately sat down and watched an episode one night in her apartment. She did not find the sitcom funny at all and was not given a script until the first read-through of her first episode. Wilson also did not get along with Franklin, "who took her role as arbiter over moral issues very seriously" and who considered herself "our foremost authority on Broadway". She also thought that Harrington's character of Schneider was not funny at all, although she liked Harrington himself, and found him hilarious offscreen. Wilson wrote that "aside from Lear, nobody thought I was funny...To make matters worse, each character, according to the show's formula, had to have a 'serious' moral dilemma at some point, and I was given some problem about an illegitimate child to work out in these increasingly sentimental scenes that made my bowels shrink." At the end of the second season of One Day at a Time, Wilson begged her agent to ask Lear to release her from her contract. Wilson later admitted, "I felt terribly wrong to be so miserable. I knew this was the kind of break actors longed for." Wilson was also unaccustomed to working on a sitcom with four cameras in front of a live audience where "you said your line when the red light on the camera went on...and there follows a pause longer than the river Styx before the light on camera four goes on" at which the character you're speaking to says the next line. After the meeting with her agent, Wilson impulsively changed her mind and agreed to stay with the series, but it was too late. Her agent had already informed Norman Lear of Wilson's unhappiness and she was released from the show after appearing in 14 episodes. The character of Ginny Wroblicki was never seen, referred to, or heard from again [4] except in a fifth-season episode ("Retrospective") made up mainly of clips from earlier in the series.

For the next two seasons, the central cast of Ann, Julie, Barbara and Schneider was supplemented by recurring characters, including William Kirby Cullen as Julie's boyfriend Chuck Butterfield, Howard Morton and K Callan as Chuck's parents, John Putch as Barbara's awkward friend Bob Morton, Scott Colomby as Barbara's boyfriend Cliff Randall, and John Hillerman and Charles Siebert as Ann's bosses, Mr. Connors and Mr. Davenport, respectively. Dick O'Neill and Nedra Volz made three appearances together as Orville and Emily, residents of the retirement home where the main characters put on a semiregular variety show. Joseph Campanella also made several appearances as Ann's ex-husband and the girls' father, Ed Cooper.

Michael Lembeck joined the series as Julie's husband, Max, in the fifth season, but he was written out as a consequence of Phillips' firing (but later returned in season seven along with Philips). A steady stream of regulars was added in the ensuing seasons, including Ron Rifkin as Ann's boyfriend, Nick; Glenn Scarpelli as Nick's son, Alex; and Boyd Gaines as Barbara's boyfriend, later husband, Mark. Shelley Fabares, who had previously guest-starred as Ann's rival co-worker Francine Webster, appeared more frequently, eventually becoming a regular. Nanette Fabray, who played Ann's mother, also made more frequent appearances before becoming a regular cast member in the final season. Howard Hesseman joined the series for a short time as Mark's father, Sam, who would become Ann's second husband.

Notable guest stars throughout the series run include Norman Alden, Robby Benson, Carla Borelli, Charlie Brill, Dennis Burkley, Jack Dodson, Elinor Donahue, David Dukes, Greg Evigan, Conchata Ferrell, Corey Feldman, Alice Ghostley, Lee Grant, Mark Hamill, Jim Hutton, Terry Kiser, Richard Kline, Christopher Knight, Jay Leno, Robert Mandan, Robert Morse, Denise Nicholas, J. Pat O'Malley, Jo Ann Pflug, Eve Plumb, Susan Richardson, William Schallert, Gretchen Corbett, Suzanne Somers, Ellen Travolta, Dick Van Patten, and Keenan Wynn.

Main cast

  = Main cast (credited)
  = Recurring cast (4+)
  = Guest cast (1-3)
Bonnie Franklin Ann Romano Main
Mackenzie Phillips Julie Cooper HorvathMainRecurring
Richard Masur David KaneMainGuest
Valerie Bertinelli Barbara Cooper RoyerMain
Pat Harrington Jr. Dwayne SchneiderMain
Mary Louise Wilson Ginny WroblickiMain
Michael Lembeck Max HorvathMainRecurringMain
Ron Rifkin Nick HandrisMain
Glenn Scarpelli Alex HandrisMain
Boyd Gaines Mark RoyerRecurringMain
Shelley Fabares Francine WebsterGuestGuestRecurringMainRecurring
Nanette Fabray Katherine RomanoGuestRecurringMain
Howard Hesseman Sam RoyerRecurringMain


SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedRankRating
First airedLast aired
1 15December 16, 1975 (1975-12-16)March 30, 1976 (1976-03-30)1223.1
2 24September 28, 1976 (1976-09-28)March 22, 1977 (1977-03-22)823.4 [lower-alpha 1]
3 24September 27, 1977 (1977-09-27)April 3, 1978 (1978-04-03)1023.0
4 26September 18, 1978 (1978-09-18)April 14, 1979 (1979-04-14)1821.6
5 26September 30, 1979 (1979-09-30)April 13, 1980 (1980-04-13)1023.0
6 21November 9, 1980 (1980-11-09)May 10, 1981 (1981-05-10)1122.0
7 25October 11, 1981 (1981-10-11)May 16, 1982 (1982-05-16)1022.0
8 26September 26, 1982 (1982-09-26)May 23, 1983 (1983-05-23)1619.1
9 22October 2, 1983 (1983-10-02)May 28, 1984 (1984-05-28)4415.9 [5]



One Day at a Time was best known in the 1980s as a staple of the CBS Sunday-night lineup, one of the most successful in TV history, along with Archie Bunker's Place , Alice , and The Jeffersons.

The series consistently ranked among the top twenty (if not the top ten) programs in the ratings. However, the network moved the show around on the prime time schedule eleven times. By the end of the 1982–83 season, viewership was beginning to slip and the series ended season eight ranking at No. 16. At this time, Bonnie Franklin and Valerie Bertinelli were anxious to move on, but agreed to do a ninth (and final) season.

Awards and honors


CBS aired daytime reruns of the show for three years. From September 17, 1979, to February 1, 1980, it aired on the daytime schedule at 3:30 pm Eastern time; with the cancellation of Love of Life to accommodate the expansion of The Young and the Restless to one hour, it was moved on February 4, 1980, to 4 pm Eastern due to Guiding Light moving to 3 pm. On September 28, 1981, it moved to 10 am Eastern time, and on September 20, 1982, it was replaced by The $25,000 Pyramid .

Soon after, the show entered off-network syndication, airing on local stations around the country, and nationally on WGN (currently known as NewsNation), TBS, and the E! Network.

Logo TV started airing episodes in April 2017.

As of July 23, 2017, the series airs Weekday evenings (formerly Sunday nights) on the digital broadcast network Antenna TV. [8] It also can be seen on the satellite service FeTV. The series returned to Antenna TV on January 4, 2021.

As of 2020, it can also be seen weekday evenings on Hamilton, Ontario-based CHCH. It is also available to stream for free (with ads) on the CTV app.

Pluto TV currently airs the show on channel 506. All in the Family also airs on this channel.

Cast reunions

The One Day at a Time Reunion was a 60-minute CBS retrospective special which aired on Tuesday February 22, 2005, at 9:00 pm ET, reuniting Bonnie Franklin, Mackenzie Phillips, Valerie Bertinelli, and Pat Harrington to reminisce about the series and their characters. Regular cast members Richard Masur, Shelley Fabares, Nanette Fabray, Michael Lembeck and Glenn Scarpelli shared their feelings about their time on the show in separate interviews. The special was included as a bonus on One Day at a Time: The Complete First Season DVD set.

On February 26, 2008, Franklin, Phillips, Bertinelli, and Harrington reunited once again to talk about life on the set, Phillips' drug problems, and the show's theme song on NBC's Today Show as part of a week-long segment titled "Together Again: TV's Greatest Casts Reunited".

Bertinelli, Harrington, and (on tape) Franklin appeared on the September 10, 2008, episode of Rachael Ray to celebrate Ray's 40th birthday.

In 2011, Franklin reunited again with Bertinelli on an episode of Hot in Cleveland which marked one of Franklin's last acting roles before her death in 2013. Mackenzie Phillips and Pat Harrington Jr. also made individual cameos on the series.

One Day at a Time was awarded the Innovation Award on the 2012 TV Land Award show on April 29. Accepting the award were Valerie Bertinelli, Bonnie Franklin, Pat Harrington Jr., Richard Masur, Mackenzie Phillips, and Glenn Scarpelli.

In July 2020, Bertinelli, Phillips, Lembeck and Scarpelli reunited on the Stars in the House video podcast, along with producers Norman Lear and Patricia Fass Palmer.

Home media

On April 24, 2007, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released the first season of One Day at a Time on DVD in Region 1.

On September 7, 2017, it was announced that Shout! Factory had acquired the rights to the series and released One Day at a Time - The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1 on December 5, 2017. [9] Season 2 was released on March 27, 2018. [10] Season 3 was released on June 12, 2018. [11]

DVD NameEp #Release Date
The Complete First Season15April 24, 2007
The Complete Second Season24March 27, 2018
The Complete Third Season24June 12, 2018
The Complete Series209December 5, 2017


Gloria Calderon Kellett and Mike Royce developed a new version of the series, with a Latino cast, for Netflix, beginning in 2017. Norman Lear also returned for the remake as executive producer. [12] The ensemble is led by Justina Machado, with Rita Moreno, Stephen Tobolowsky, Isabella Gomez, Marcel Ruiz, and Todd Grinnell in supporting roles. Pam Fryman directed the pilot episode. [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] Several members of the original cast and production crew returned in various capacities throughout the series run. Patricia Fass Palmer returned as a producer for the remake; Mackenzie Philips had a recurring role as drug and alcohol counsellor, Pam; Glenn Scarpelli appeared in the season three episode “The First Time”; and Michael Lembeck directed the season one episode “Sex Talk”. [18] [19] [20]


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