March 1, 2013 at 1:43 PM ET
Bonnie Franklin, who starred as Indianapolis mother Ann Romano in 1970s sitcom "One Day at a Time," died Friday at age 69, her agent confirms. The actress announced in 2012 that she had pancreatic cancer.
"I was wrong. I thought life forces never die," said Norman Lear, who developed "One Day at a Time." "Bonnie was such a life force. Bubbly, always up, the smile never left her face."
On "One Day at a Time," Franklin played divorced mom Romano, whose daughters were played by Valerie Bertinelli and Mackenzie Phillips. Pat Harrington played Schneider, their omnipresent building superintendent. The show was created by Whitney Blake, mother of actress Meredith Baxter of "Family" and "Family Ties" fame, and based on Blake's own memories raising Baxter as a single mom.
Franklin was nominated for an Emmy and two Golden Globes for her role.
"My heart is breaking," Bertinelli said of the news. "Bonnie has always been one of the most important women in my life and was a second mother to me. The years on 'One Day At A Time' were some of the happiest of my life, and along with Pat and Mackenzie we were a family in every way. She taught me how to navigate this business and life itself with grace and humor, and to always be true to yourself. I will miss her terribly."
While Franklin was not the first divorced mother on television, she was one of the most prominent at a time when divorce rates in America were rising. "One Day at a Time" ran from 1975 to 1984 and saw both daughters wed and Phillips' character have a child. Phillips was twice fired from the show for drug use and related problems.
Franklin and Bertinelli were reunited in 2011 on the sitcom "Hot in Cleveland." Franklin also had a recent role on "The Young and The Restless." Her other TV credits include "Gidget," "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," "The Munsters," "The Love Boat" and more.
In 1970, Franklin earned a Tony nomination for the Broadway musical "Applause." She also appeared onstage in such plays as "Dames at Sea," "Toys in the Attic," and "Broadway Bound."
Franklin was married twice and had no children.