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Watch Valerie Bertinelli reunite with 'One Day at a Time' co-stars

The gathering was bittersweet, since at least two key members of the cast have since passed on.
/ Source: TODAY

This is it!

Surviving members of the "One Day at a Time" original cast gathered for a virtual reunion Thursday, and we felt empowered all over again.

The nearly hour-and-a-half chatfest featured Valerie Bertinelli (who played Barbara Cooper), Mackenzie Phillips (Julie Cooper), Michael Lembeck (Max Horvath) and Glenn Scarpelli (Alex Handris) alongside show creator Norman Lear and producer Patricia Fass Palmer. They all assembled to talk about the original version of the show, which aired from 1975-84, and raise funds to support The Actors Fund.

Though the cast had a lot to say about their characters and acting in general (the consensus was that filming each episode was like doing a one-act play), there was a lot of talk about missing comrades like Pat Harrington Jr. (neighbor/building super Schneider), who died in 2016, and star Bonnie Franklin (who played mom Ann Romano), who died in 2013.

In fact, by the time Bertinelli joined the group she was already a little verklempt. "I've missed you guys," she said, wiping away tears.

"She was amazing," Bertinelli said of Franklin. "She was intense and she was direct and she was sure of what she was about to tell you and she was right. But she was also very open to someone else's opinion and what they had to say."

Valerie Bertinelli (l.) and Mackenzie Phillips on "One Day at a Time"
Valerie Bertinelli (l.) and Mackenzie Phillips played sisters with a single mom on "One Day at a Time."CBS via Getty Images

Added Phillips, "She had a mouth like a truck driver. ... She was like a bulldozer, a lovely, wonderful, brilliant bulldozer who had the courage of her convictions in what she thought the show would be."

The show, which focused on Ann and her daughters building their life anew after a divorce, dealt with a lot of sensitive subjects over the years. But the writers ensured they took cues not just from Franklin but their younger stars, like when they had to use teen lingo.

Cast of 'One Day At A Time'
The cast of "One Day at a Time" in 1977, from l.: Pat Harrington Jr., Bertinelli, Bonnie Franklin and PhillipsCBS / Getty Images

Bertinelli all but grew up in front of the camera, and said she never worried about the potentially challenging subject matter, noting, "I was only ever mortified if I had to kiss somebody. ... Of course I wanted to kiss Mark Hamill (who appeared on a single episode in 1976) but he wasn't there on the show for that. ... Every guy that would come on the show Mac and I would be like, 'He's mine! 'No, he's mine!' 'No he's mine!' She would win every single time."

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And later on, everyone wished a happy birthday to Lear, who turned 98 on Monday.

This is far from the only virtual classic cast reunion. Lear was also on hand with the cast of the rebooted "One Day at a Time" in April. Other great reunions have included "Goonies," "Back to the Future" and lots more.