One Day at a Time

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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 Norman Campbell
Herbert Kenwith
Sandy Kenyon
Howard Morris
Noam Pitlik
Alan Rafkin
Don Richardson
Tony Singletary
Starring Bonnie Franklin
Mackenzie Phillips
Richard Masur
Valerie Bertinelli
Pat Harrington
Mary Louise Wilson
Michael Lembeck
Ron Rifkin
Glenn Scarpelli
Shelley Fabares
Boyd Gaines
Howard Hesseman
Nanette Fabray
Theme music composer Jeff Barry
Nancy Barry
Opening theme "This Is It" performed by Polly Cutter
Ending theme "This is It" (instrumental)
Composer(s) Jeff Barry
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 9
No. of episodes 209 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Dick Bensfield
Jack Elinson
Perry Grant
Mort Lachman
Norman Lear
Alan Rafkin
Bud Wiseman
Producer(s) Dick Bensfield
Patricia Fass Palmer
Perry Grant
Katherine Green
Allan Manings
Bud Wiser
Running time 24 minutes
Production company(s) T.A.T. Communications Company (1975–82)
Embassy Television (1982–84)
Distributor T.A.T. Communications Co. (1980–82)
Embassy Telecommunications (1982–86)
Embassy Communications (1986–88)
Columbia Pictures Television (1988–95)
Sony Pictures Television (2002–present)
Original network CBS
Audio format Monaural
Original release December 16, 1975 (1975-12-16) – May 28, 1984 (1984-05-28)

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

The series was created by Whitney Blake and Allan Manings, a husband-and-wife writing duo who were both actors in the 1950s and 1960s. The series was based on Whitney Blake's own life as a single mother, raising her child, future actress Meredith Baxter.[1]

Like many sitcoms developed by Lear, One Day at a Time often tackled serious issues in life and relationships, particularly those related to second wave feminism. Stories depicting such events as weddings, births, and other important milestones frequently stretched over two-, three-, and four-part episodes.


Ann Romano, a divorced mother, moves from their home in Logansport, Indiana, to Marion County, west-side Indianapolis, with her daughters, the rebellious Julie and the wisecracking Barbara. Ann frequently struggles with maintaining her role as mother while affording her daughters the freedom she never had as a young woman. Complicating matters is David Kane, a younger man who lives in the building and takes a romantic interest in Ann. Dwayne Schneider, the building's quirky superintendent (most often referred to only by his last name), provides usually-unwanted advice to the tenants.

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

In the penultimate episode, Ann decides to take a job in London, leaving her daughters in Indianapolis to raise families of their own. 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 live 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 Hollywood.

Theme song and opening credits[edit]

The theme song for One Day at a Time, "This is It", was composed by Brill Building songwriter Jeff Barry, and performed by RCA 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.

In the second season, Mary Louise Wilson was brought in to play Ginny Wrobliki, a neighbor and confidante for Ann, but the character failed to click and disappeared after fourteen episodes. 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 semi-regular 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 was written out as a consequence of Phillips's firing. 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'd 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, Terry Kiser, Richard Kline, Christopher Knight, Jay Leno, Robert Morse, Denise Nicholas, J. Pat O'Malley,Jo Ann Pflug, Eve Plumb, Susan Richardson, William Schallert, Suzanne Somers, Ellen Travolta, Dick Van Patten, and Keenan Wynn.

Main Cast of One Day at a Time
Actor Character Season
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Bonnie Franklin Ann Romano Main
Mackenzie Phillips Julie Cooper Horvath Main Recurring
Richard Masur David Kane Main Guest
Valerie Bertinelli Barbara Cooper Royer Main
Pat Harrington, Jr. Dwayne Schneider Main
Mary Louise Wilson Ginny Wroblicki Main
Michael Lembeck Max Horvath Main Recurring Main
Ron Rifkin Nick Handris Main
Glenn Scarpelli Alex Handris Main
Boyd Gaines Mark Royer Recurring Main
Shelley Fabares Francine Webster Guest Guest Guest Recurring Main Recurring
Nanette Fabray Katherine Romano Guest Recurring Main
Howard Hesseman Sam Royer Recurring Main


Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
1 15 December 16, 1975 March 30, 1976
2 24 September 28, 1976 March 22, 1977
3 24 September 27, 1977 April 3, 1978
4 26 September 18, 1978 April 14, 1979
5 26 September 30, 1979 April 13, 1980
6 21 November 9, 1980 May 10, 1981
7 25 October 11, 1981 May 16, 1982
8 26 September 26, 1982 May 23, 1983
9 22 October 2, 1983 May 28, 1984


The highest the show ever got in the Nielsen ratings was No. 8 during the 1976–77 season, when it tied with the ABC Sunday Night Movie and Baretta.

It 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 11 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.

Available annual ratings are:

  • 1975–1976: #12[2]
  • 1976–1977: #8[3]
  • 1977–1978: #10[4]
  • 1978–1979: #18[5]
  • 1979–1980: #10[6]
  • 1980–1981: #11[7]
  • 1981–1982: #10[8]
  • 1982–1983: #16[9]
  • 1983-1984: #47

Awards and honors[edit]


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, TBS, and the E! Network.

As of April 6, 2015, the series airs nightly on the digital broadcast network Antenna TV.[12]

Cast reunions[edit]

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. Recurring 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.

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.

DVD release[edit]

On April 24, 2007, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released the first season of One Day at a Time on DVD in Region 1. It is unknown if the remaining eight seasons will be released at some point.


  1. ^ Mike Celizic (February 26, 2008). "Cast of ‘One Day at a Time’ reunites on TODAY". Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  2. ^ " TV Ratings > 1970's". Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  3. ^ " TV Ratings > 1970's". Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  4. ^ " TV Ratings > 1970's". Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  5. ^ " TV Ratings > 1970's". Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  6. ^ " TV Ratings > 1970's". Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  7. ^ " TV Ratings > 1980's". Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  8. ^ " TV Ratings > 1980's". Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  9. ^ " TV Ratings > 1980's". Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  10. ^ "Barbara's Crisis". Retrieved 15 November 2012. 
  11. ^ "Awards for "One Day at a Time"". IMDb. Retrieved 15 November 2012. 
  12. ^ Schedule - Antenna TV

External links[edit]