TODAY | March 02, 2013
>>> bonnie franklin personified the struggling single parent in "one day at a time." franklin lost her battle with cancer on friday in her california home. diana alviar has more from los angeles . this is it this is life
>> reporter: flawed and single and an romano was no june cleaver .
>> i'm not married.
>> you are divorced?
>> yes, i am.
>> reporter: bonnie franklin 's character on "one day at a time" was a first for a prime time sitcom. she talked about it in a 2005 pbs reunion special.
>> back in the '70s when we were doing this, across the country were single parents . yet, it hadn't been reflected on camera.
>> reporter: born bonnie gale franklin , she made her tv debut at 9. franklin 's biggest impact was as mom to daughters julie played by mckenzie phillips and barbara played by valerie bert nelly.
>> steve asked me to go away with him for the weekend and i'm going.
>> great, mom. have a great time.
>> barbara? you don't understand. she's going to shack up.
>> reporter: "one day at a time" was ground breaking , in this case because franklin played a single mom with a very active dating life.
>> i guess it's been a long time since you had a man sleep over, huh?
>> this is really the first time we saw a divorcee on television dating men and really trying to get her love life back in order after a failed marriage.
>> reporter: last september, she was diagnosed with pafrpg ree nk kree attic cancer.
>> my heart is breaking. bonnie is always one of the most important women in my life and was a second mother to me. phillips said shes with just full of light and love. and the man who cast franklin in her iconic role said "i was wrong. i thought life forces never die. bonnie was such a life force . bubbly, always up, the smile never left her face." a feisty feminist who inspired her fans.
>> i love you.
>> and you.
>> with her trade mark pictures of grace and grit.
>> we're back in a moment. this is "today" on nbc.
>>> still to come on "today,"