Having a main character let alone an entire show that revolved around the aftermath of divorce was highly unusual on television at the time, and many viewers found the show refreshing, as it touched on real life issues. In the 1950s, getting a divorce was still quite taboo, with fewer than 20% of married couples deciding ended their marriage. By the time 1970 rolled around, though, approximately 50% of married couples in American were getting divorced. This is definitely a sensitive subject as divorce is never a pleasant thing but the show was one of the first times that it was talked about on television at length.
The show aired from 1975 until 1984 and throughout its run, One Day at a Time had consistently high ratings and was on the top ten or twenty rankings of TV programs. The show is in the spotlight again as Netflix created a 2017 remake of the original. The 2017 version, however, still offered many updates and changes, such as the fact that it revolves around a Cuban-American family headed by a single mother suffering from PTSD following her military service. The recent version received a warm welcome (97% on scoring website Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t come easy), but more than anything, it made us miss the original version. Looking back at old episodes and feeling all nostalgic, we thought it would be a great idea to check in on the original cast and see how they were doing.
The original One Day at a Time starred a trio of talented actresses: Broadway veteran Bonnie Franklin as matriarch Ann, Hollywood royalty Mackenzie Phillips as eldest daughter Julie, and fresh-faced girl-next-door Valerie Bertinelli as the youngest daughter Barbara. In addition to the core three, the series hosted a slew of talented actors and guest stars, many of whom went on to incredibly successful careers of their own. Join us as we leaf through the ground-breaking show and reminisce about the stars that were included on it, one page at a time.
Bonnie Franklin as Ann Romano
The star and focal point of One Day at a Time was Ann Romano, who packs up her bags and takes her two daughters to Indianapolis after divorcing their father, Ed (played by Joseph Campanella). She is depicted as an old school mother who disciplines her kids for making smart aleck comments or getting themselves into trouble. After her first marriage ends, Romano ends up falling in love with her divorce attorney but they break up over a dispute over whether or not to have children, and she ultimately ends up falling for her youngest daughter’s father-in-law. In one of the final episodes, Ann decides to take a job in London, leaving her daughter to raise their families in Indianapolis.
Bonnie Franklin today (deceased)
Before making it big on One Day at a Time, she made it big on stage after earning a Tony Award nomination for her role in the Broadway musical Applause and also earned two Golden Globe and one Emmy Award nomination for her role as Ann Romano. The talented actress also guest starred on shows like The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Love Boat, and the TV Land comedy Hot in Cleveland. Sadly, Franklin passed away in 2013 after battling pancreatic cancer, at the age of only 69. Just before she died, Franklin appeared in several episodes of the soap opera The Young and the Restless in the role of Sister Celeste.
Pat Harrington, Jr. as Dwayne Schneider
Dwayne Schneider often stole the show with his quirky demeanor and slapstick comedy bits. He is the superintendent at Ann’s building and the main form of comic relief on the show, as he often gives hilarious and unsolicited advice to Ann and her daughters during his many unannounced visits. Schneider isn’t the brightest light bulb, but that just makes his running commentary that much more ridiculous.
Pat Harrington, Jr. today (deceased)
After getting his bachelor of arts and a master’s degree in political philosophy, Harrington, Jr. served in the Air Force during the Korean War. After returning to civilian life he got a job at NBC and became famous for his role in the television comedy troupe Men on the Street. Although he was best known for playing Schneider, he also guest starred on the sitcom The Danny Thomas Show ,and the Elvis Presley film, Easy Come, Easy Go. Harrington, Jr. sadly passed away from Alzheimer’s at the age of 86.
Ron Rifkin as Nick Handris
Nick is introduced to Ann as an artist whom she finds very intimidating at first but ends up starting a freelance business with. The two enter into a romantic relationship, before Nick is tragically killed after a drunk driver hits his car and Ann is left to care for his teenage his son, Alex. Alex, whose mother is in Europe and never wanted to become a mother, then moves from Chicago to Indianapolis to move in with Ann, and the two frequently lock horns.
Ron Rifkin today
Born Saul Rifkin, he grew up in New York City and was raised as an Orthodox Jew and remained devout until he was 32. Rifkin is best known for his role on the drama series Alias, also starring Jennifer Garner. Before that, however, he appeared in a number of films in the ‘70s such as the post-apocalyptic sci-fi film Silent Running and the Comedy The Sunshine Boys. At 78 years old, he currently appears as Marvin Stan Exley on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Glenn Scarpelli as Alex Handris
Alex Handris an Ann have quite a tumultuous relationship after his father Nick gets killed by a drunk driver. Alex then moves in to Ann’s house, dramatically changing the house’s formerly all-female dynamics. After the death of his father, Alex feels like Ann is neglecting him. With his own mother in Europe and Alex knowing she never even wanted to be a mother, he’s left feeling he has been abandoned. As a result of the chaos in his life, he’s often seen getting into trouble during and after school.
Glenn Scarpelli today
Glenn Scarpelli is former child actor and singer, who, besides appearing on One Day at a Time, appeared on Broadway at the age of ten in the play Golda, which depicted the story of the late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. Scarpelli appeared on various television shows throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s including the sitcom The Love Boat and the crime series MacGyver. His latest appearance was in a 2016 short film called Sacred Journeys. He has remained close friends with his One Day at a Time co-star Mackenzie Phillips.
Mary Louise Wilson as Ginny Wroblicki
Outspoken waitress Ginny was introduced in season two as a comedic foil to Ann. The character received mixed reviews, as some people liked her in-your-face honesty, while others found her too overbearing. It is rumored that Franklin convinced CBS executives to get the character off the show because she felt Wilson was upstaging her, though Wilson herself has stated she was miserable on the show and did not find it funny in the least.
Mary Louise Wilson today
At 86 years old, Wilson is still in the acting business as she appeared on the Netflix series Orange is the New Black in 2016. She got her star on Broadway due to productions such as the 1963 musical Hot Spot, the musical Promises, Promises and Alice in Wonderland. She has also appeared in a number of films including the drama King of the Gypsies and the romantic-comedy Mr. Wonderful. She was briefly married to actor Albert Cibelli.
Mackenzie Phillips as Julie Cooper Horvath
Julie was Ann’s eldest and most rebellious daughter. Some of her storylines revolve around controversial issues such as drinking, promiscuity, and other issues that teenagers could relate to. In one instance, her mother Ann discovers she is conducting a romantic relationship with a much older man, which upsets Ann and ends in the two women getting a physical altercation. Later on in the series, Julie faces even more challenges after she gives birth to a daughter but ultimately leaves her husband and daughter in order to find herself.
Mackenzie Phillips today
With her father being legendary Mamas and the Papas singer John Phillips, Mackenzie’s road to stardom seemed clear. At 12, she landed a role in the coming- of-age film American Graffiti, before her star turn on One Day at a Time. However, due to substance abuse, Phillips’ work suffered, and she was eventually fired. In 2009, after years of rehab, she shocked the world by revealing her father had hooked her on illicit substances, before entering into a forbidden, intimate relationship with her. Mackenzie now works as a rehab counsellor.
Michael Lembeck as Max Horvath
Max Horvath starts off as Julie’s boyfriend, and the two eventually marry and have a daughter named Annie, named after Julie’s mother. Julie and Max have a tumultuous relationship from the start with plenty of arguments but their love seems to get them through every obstacle. After Julie feels like she has been flaky in every aspect of her life, she questions whether she is a good mother and leaves Max and her daughter with the intent of taking responsibility for herself. Max decides to move back to Texas with his daughter to be closer to his family, which causes conflict between him and Julie’s family.
Michael Lembeck today
Michael Lembeck is an actor and director who started his career in the late ‘60s. He made his first film appearance in the Western film Hang ‘Em High starring Clint Eastwood and appeared in the mid-’70s satirical soap opera Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and in the ‘80s sitcom Foley Square. He became a television director and won an Emmy for The One After the Super Bowl, one of 20 episodes he directed of the hit sitcom Friends.
Valerie Bertinelli as Barbara Cooper Royer
Barbara may not be as rebellious as her older sister but she is known for making wisecracking comments. She is portrayed as the more obedient daughter and is often tasked with keeping the peace between her mother and Julie, as they have a more volatile relationship. She furthers her good girl persona by remaining chaste until her marriage and she later struggles with fertility issues. Later in the series, Ann ends up marrying Barbara’s father-in-law.
Valerie Bertinelli today
After appearing in a small role on the drama series Apple’s Way, Bertinelli was approached by Norman Lear, the creator of One Day at a Time to appear on the new sitcom. Thankfully she agreed, and as a result became a TV star. She went onto appear on the supernatural-drama Touched by an Angel and from 2010 to 2015 she starred on the sitcom Hot in Cleveland alongside Betty White. She was famously married to Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen but she is now married to financial planner Tom Vitale.
Shelley Fabares as Francine Webster
Francine works for Ann at their advertising firm Romano and Webster. She is a bit of a free spirit, which causes Ann to get jealous when Francine takes Alex, the son of the man Ann is dating, out on the town for the time of his life and in another episode, Ann gets angry with Francine after she steals one of her business accounts. Francine also has a charming tendency to make underhanded comments, in one instance telling Julie that she’s starting to look more and more like her mother every day.
Shelley Fabares today
Shelley Fabares began acting in the ‘50s and landed her breakout role on the classic sitcom The Donna Reed Show where she played the role of Donna’s daughter Mary. She went onto appear in the anthology series The Twilight Zone and the medical drama Medical Center before appearing on One Day at a Time. She has also done voice acting and voiced the character of Martha Kent on Superman: The Animated Series and in the film Superman: Brainiac Attacks. Fabares is married to another well-known actor, Mike Farrell, who famously played Captain Hunnicutt on M*A*S*H.
Nanette Fabray as Katherine Romano
Katherine Romano is Ann’s mother who first appears in the fourth season of the show. She is introduced when she leaves her husband and shows up at Ann’s door and asks to live with her. She becomes a vital part of the family but can’t accept that Julie has abandoned her daughter and even plans snatch her great grandchild from her nursery with her but her plan is foiled when she climbs through the house window, only to find Max standing over his daughter in the nursery.
Nanette Fabray today (deceased)
Born in 1920, Nanette Fabray began performing in vaudeville when she was a child and later became a musical theater star, winning a Tony for her role in the musical Love Life. She then won three Emmys for her role on the sketch comedy show Caesar’s Hour. What makes her career even more impressive is that she had a significant hearing impairment. She was an advocate for the cause and won the President’s Distinguished Service Award for her work. Fabray passed away in early 2018, at the age of 97.
Richard Musar as David Kane
David Kane is Ann’s divorce lawyer whom she falls in love with. David is also madly in love with Ann but as he is relatively younger than Ann (she’s 34 and he’s 27), he still wants children of his own while Ann doesn’t want more kids. When he proposes to Ann he first demands an answer immediately but ultimately gives her a week to decide. After much thought, Ann decides she’s not ready to get married again. After that, David isn’t seen until a guest appearance in the sixth season.
Richard Masur today
Richard Masur studied drama at the prestigious Yale University before beginning his stage and television acting career. He began his career by appearing on shows in the mid ‘70s such as the family-drama The Waltons and the sitcom All in the Family. After appearing on One Day at a Time from 1975 to ‘76, he appeared on other shows such as in many films such as the romantic-comedy Risky Business and the black-comedy film Head Office. He most recently appeared on the comedy-drama series Transparent.
Boyd Gaines as Mark Royer
Mark Royer is a dental student who marries Barbara in the eighth season of the show. Their relationship gets off to a bit of a rocky start as Barbara doesn’t know if she should go out with him but eventually invites him over for dinner. Mark is a pretty relaxed guy and he is so relaxed that he plays golf right before his wedding, which makes Barbara very nervous. Unfortunately, Mark and Barbara face fertility issues and after caring for Julie’s baby, Barbara gets baby fever and they being looking into adoption.
Boyd Gaines today
Boyd Gaines began his stage acting career early on as he studied at Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts and moved on to study drama at the Juilliard School. Besides his television and film career, Gaines has a vibrant stage career as he has appeared in several Broadway the productions such as the musical, Anything Goes, Reginald Rose play Twelve Angry Men and the 2008 production of the musical Gypsy. Gaines has won four Tony Awards over the course of his career.
Howard Hesseman as Sam Royer
Sam is Mark’s father and Barbara’s father-in-law. After spending an evening eating dinner with Ann, Mark and Barbara, a connection is sparked between Sam and Ann. An explosion in the home that Julie, Barbara and their spouses share causes Ann’s children to move in with her and overwhelmed by the chaos, she takes refuge at Sam’s house where a relationship develops. At the end of the series, Sam and Ann move to London together after Ann takes a new job at a big advertising agency.
Howard Hesseman today
After attending the University of Oregon, Hessman moved to San Francisco where he became a founding member of the improvisational troupe The Committee. Hesseman is best known for his role as Dr. Johnny Fever on the late ‘70s sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati and to prepare for this role he worked as a D.J. for several months. He is still acting and most recently appeared in the comedy film Wild Oats that starred Demi Moore and Jessica Lange.
Suzanne Somers as Sondra
In one episode, Julie wants to buy a car but her mother refuses to pay for one and tells her to get a job. Julie gets a job waitressing in a bad part of town in order to pay for a car, which is where she runs into Sondra, a patron at the restaurant. Although she just had a bit part, Somers showed off her comedic acting talents and gave us a glimpse of what was to come in her career.
Suzanne Somers today
Suzanne Somers appeared on an episode of One Day at a Time and just one year later she landed her breakout role on the sitcom Three’s Company. She is viewed as an iconic woman of the ‘70s and ‘80s and continued to appear in other comedic projects, most notably the ‘90s sitcom Step by Step, and also posed for Playboy. She is now a businesswoman and spokesperson in addition to being an actress. After her own battle with cancer, she became an advocate for alternative (and controversial) cancer treatments.
Conchata Ferrell as Phyllis McDermott
Although Conchata Ferrell only appeared in one episode in 1977, her appearance in The Singles Bar has gone down in history as one of her funniest moments in her acting career. As she played Phyllis McDermott, this character made her way to the singles bar when she bumped – or rather forced herself – into Pat Harrington Jr. Of course, Phyllis was smitten with his mustache and charm, and couldn’t help but make her advances known. Sadly, Pat just wasn’t taken with her unique laugh and her strong grip…
Conchata Ferrell today
Conchata Ferrell had only managed to score herself small roles until she was cast in One Day at a Time, but it’s fair to say that her acting calendar filled up pretty quickly after that. Today, Conchata Ferrell is largely known for her role in the hugely popular American sitcom, Two and a Half Men. She appeared in every season of the show, and even won two Primetime Emmy Awards for her role as Berta, the housekeeper! In recent years, she has continued to act on sitcoms such as The Ranch and Grace and Frankie.
Jay Leno as Bernard Shapiro
Although he looked a little younger and his hair was a lot bigger during his earlier years, Jay Leno managed to score himself a role as Bernard Shapiro on the Going Nowhere episode of One Day at Time, and it’s fair to say that fans weren’t happy to see that he only appeared in one episode! During this episode, Bernard got pretty close to Julie – but he wasn’t too happy. As he struggled with his self-esteem and his confidence, Bernard used Julie’s confidence and charisma to make him even more confident in himself. Fans hoped the pair would enter into a romantic relationship, but we were let down!
Jay Leno today
His role on the show may have been munite, but Jay Leno has since become one of the most famous men in Hollywood. After appearing on sitcoms for much of his early career, Leno soon entered the world of stand-up comedy before entering the realm of talk shows. In 1992, he took over The Tonight Show from Johnny Carson, and after 22 seasons, he ended his time on the show. Currently hosting The Jay Leno Show, he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 2014.
Louisa Moritz as Receptionist
While Louisa Moritz may have not even had a name on the How To Succeed Without Trying episode of One Day at a Time, she at least had a speaking role. During this episode, the receptionist welcomed Ann Romano as she went to a job interview. With her quaffed black hair, her smart suit, her typewriting skills and her ability to say “He’s still on the Los Angeles call,” the receptionist didn’t leave us wanting more, but it definitely left Louisa Moritz wanting more of the acting and celebrity lifestyle.
Louisa Moritz today
Before she became an actress, this Cuban native moved to the United States to pursue her education, and later graduated from the Abraham Lincoln University School of Law. However, she was soon disbarred, allegedly due to not responding to The California State Bar’s attempts to reach her. She then switched to real estate before becoming an actress. After making a name for herself on the comedy, Love, American Style, Moritz left acting, and the 71-year-old is now living her life in retirement. She was also one of Bill Cosby’s accusers.
Darrell Fetty as Officer Preston
Darrell Fetty donned his police officer uniform in Farewell, My Suite in 1980, when he appeared as Officer Preston. After Barbara and Ann’s apartment gets robbed, the pair ring up the local police department to report the robbery. Two hours and four minutes later exactly, Officer Preston shows up and makes a joke about the fact that he was caught up in a shoot-out, where his candy bar just narrowly saves his life. Of course, he was joking, but he was also trying to flirt with Barbara, which actually kinda worked.
Darrell Fetty today
While he only scored a minor role on One Day at a Time, Darrell Fetty is now a major name in the world of Hollywood. In recent years, Darrell has made his way into the realm of screenwriting and producing, and is most known for his impressive historical miniseries, Hatfields & McCoys. Amazingly, his work on this show earned him an impressive 16 Emmy nominations! Does it get much better than that? He was also married to the actress and model, Joyce Ingalls, until she sadly passed away in 2015.
Roy Stuart as Bill
It seems as though the producers of One Day at a time were thoroughly impressed with Roy Stuart, as they gave him not one, but two parts on the show. The first came in the form of the Young Man in the episode, Julie’s Job. In fact, Roy starred as Roy Stuart’s married date, who also got pretty agitated when Julie got heir bill wrong, and Sondra threatened to tell his wife about them. A year later, Roy returned to the show as Bill, a charming potential suitor in The Singles Bar.
Roy Stuart today (deceased)
Sadly, Roy Stuart passed away in 2005, but his legacy still lives on. As well as starring in two episodes of the show, Roy Stuart also landed himself major parts within other sitcoms, including the hugely famous army sitcom, Gomer Pyle: USMC. Alongside this, he also starred in various other TV shows, including the sci-fi comedy, The Munsters Today, as well as the comedy, Golden Girls. However, he has dozens more credits to his name. He just knew how to play a charming and hilarious character!
Susan Bay Nimoy as Denny
Susan Bay Nimoy only starred on one episode of One Day at a Time, but she certainly made an impression in the episode, David Plus Two. In fact, it was her entrance that got us all hot under the collar. Entering the household with an orange jumpsuit and perfectly quaffed hair, Denny made no secret of the fact that she was just recently divorced and had a lot to say for herself. She had no filter and said anything that came into her head. Throughout the episode, this often caused her trouble.
Susan Bay Nimoy today
If you’re wondering why you recognize Susan Bay Nimoy’s name, it’s because she was previously married to Spock himself – Leonard Nimoy! While her former husband was a legend of Star Trek, many people forget that Susan was also a cast member on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: “Past Prologue.” In recent years, Susan has continued to act in various small movies and TV shows, but she has been quiet for many years in terms of her acting and modeling career. We’re not sure what she’s up to now, but we still love her!
Allison McKay as Mrs. Platt
Allison McKay appeared alongside John Furlong in the Schneider Gets Fired episode, and these two were the kind of couple that we absolutely loved – but there was also a part of us that wasn’t too impressed with their being there. As Mrs. Romano begrudgingly puts her house up for sale, Mr. and Mrs. Platt are introduced into the home for a look around. Immediately, the pair falls in love with the feel of the place, and Mrs. Platt is overwhelmed by the homely nature of the apartment. However, we just don’t want Mrs. Romano to leave…
Allison McKay today
Although she may be 75 years old right now, Allison McKay is still going strong in the world of acting – and she still looks as fresh as a daisy! Over the course of her career, Allison has worked on major movie productions such as the crime drama, Lonely Hearts, and the crime movie, Mannix. After a short break in her acting career from 2006 until 2017, Allison made a triumphant debut in 2017 in the TV series, Rosalie, and has just finished filming a brand new drama movie called Adam Bloom.
Mark Hamill as Harvey Schneider
In 1976, Mark Hamill appeared on One Day at a Time as Harvey Schneider in Schneider’s Pride and Joy. As Schneider’s nephew, Harvey decides to stay with his uncle in the apartment for a while – and Schneider is over the moon to show off his flesh and blood to the rest of the gang. However, Schneider soon realizes that his nephew isn’t quite the person he thought he was, and soon discovers that Harvey has actually been stealing from the other residents. So, he of course puts him in a headlock to set things straight!
Mark Hamill today
Nowadays, Mark Hamill is known to Star Wars fans across the globe as the one and only Luke Skywalker – and Mark scored his role on One Day at a Time just one year before landing this epic role. Since then, he has become one of the leading faces in the world of Hollywood. Not only is he a movie actor, but he has also used his talents on the stage, and even used his voice as The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series. Thankfully, he has already filmed his role for Star Wars: Episode IX, which will be released in 2019.
Beth Cooke as Baby Annie Horvath
While Beth Cooke may have just been a baby when she played Baby Annie Horvath, she had a huge impact on One Day at a Time. As Julie awaits the birth of her baby, she thoroughly intends to travel to California to have the water birth she always wanted. However, things don’t quite go to plan, and she soon realizes that she is going into labor with all of her family and friends around her in Ann’s apartment. Nevertheless, it’s all worth it when their beautiful Annie is born.
Beth Cooke today
Although she was only a baby when she appeared on One Day at a Time, Beth Cooke has actually managed to maintain a strong presence within the world of acting. Not only has she appeared on various American and British hospital series such as Holby City, Casualty, and Doctors, but she has also appeared in the TV series, Maigret Sets a Trap, alongside Rowan Atkinson. As a member of the famous Cusack acting family, Beth has grown up around acting and will continue to do so for as long as she can.