Birthday: January 6, 1944
Died At Age: 69
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Also Known As: Bonnie Gail Franklin
Born in: Santa Monica, California
Famous as: Actress
Height: 5'3" (160 cm), 5'3" Females
Spouse/Ex-: Marvin Minoff (m. 1980 – his death. 2009), Ronald Sossi (m. 1967 – div. 1970)
father: Samuel Benjamin Franklin
mother: Claire Hersch Franklin
Died on: March 1, 2013
U.S. State: California
education: University of California, Los Angeles
The noted American actress, Bonnie Franklin, was born in the middle of the 20th century in the US state of California. She first appeared on the television at the age of nine in a song-and-dance routine on ‘The Colgate Comedy Hour’. Later, she went on to appear in a number of films, playing non-credited roles. At the age of 20, while studying English at the University of California, Los Angeles, she appeared in two episodes of the dramatic series ‘Mr. Novak’. At 24, she moved to New York City, where she performed in a number of Broadway and off-Broadway shows. She became well-known for her role in the musical play ‘Applause’, which also earned her a Tony Award nomination. Thereafter, she continued to work both on stage as well as in television series. Her role as a divorced mother in the TV sitcom ‘One Day at a Time’ was greatly praised and brought the highest peak in her career. Concurrently, she also took up other projects, starring in many well-received television movies. However, the stage remained her first love and apart from performing in many acclaimed plays, Franklin also toured with an autobiographical cabaret act in the early 1980s. Continuing to work almost till the end, she passed away at the age of 69 from pancreatic cancer.
Childhood & Early Years
Bonnie Gail Franklin was born on January 6, 1944 in Santa Monica, California into a family of Jewish emigrants. Her father Samuel Benjamin Franklin, originally from Russia, was an investment banker. He later founded the Beverly Hills chapter of B'nai B'rith. Her mother Claire née Hersch was from Romania.
Franklin was born fourth of her parents’ five children. She had two sisters, Victoria Kupetz and Judith Bush; and two brothers, Bernard Franklin and Richard Franklin. When she was still very young, her parents enrolled all five of them into an acting and dancing school; but only Bonnie took the lessons seriously.
It is not known where she began her education in Santa Monica, but she was admittedly a bookworm in her childhood, which prompted her mother to send her to the acting and dancing school. Interestingly, she liked her new hobbies so much that she soon became an expert tap dancer.
Encouraged by her mother, Franklin made her television debut at the age of nine, tap dancing with Donald O’Connor on ‘The Colgate Comedy Hour’, a popular comedy-musical variety show on NBC. In 1954, she appeared as one of the Cratchit daughters in the ‘Christmas Carol’ episode of ‘Shower of Stars’.
In 1956, she debuted in film, appearing in non-credited roles in Charles Lamont’s ‘The Kettles in the Ozarks’ and Alfred Hitchcock's ‘The Wrong Man’. In the latter film, she played one of the giggly little girls, answering the door when Manny Balestrero came looking for witnesses to prove his innocence.
In 1957, Franklin moved to Beverly Hills with her family, where she enrolled in Beverly Hills High School, graduating from there in 1961. Meanwhile in 1959, she appeared as a non-credited dormitory girl in the romantic drama film, ‘A Summer Place’.
In 1961, after graduating from high school, Franklin entered Smith College, a private, independent women's liberal arts college in Northampton, Massachusetts, studying there till 1963. Here, she performed in Amherst College’s musical production of ‘Good News’.
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In 1963, Bonnie Franklin returned to California to study English at the University of California, Los Angeles. Concurrently, she restarted her career in acting, appearing as Sally in two episodes of the dramatic television series ‘Mr. Novak’ in 1964.
Her performance in ‘Mr. Novak’ caught the attention of many in the industry, leading to a number of offers coming her way. One of them was ‘Invisible Diplomat’, a 22-minute film that released in 1965, in which she appeared as Trudy. In the 1960s, she also appeared as Sally in another short film titled, ‘You’re the Judge’.
In 1965, she worked in several television serials. On February 21, 1965, she appeared as Deborah in the ‘Prudence Crandall’ episode of ‘Profile in Courage’. The series was based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name by US President John F. Kennedy
In 1965, she appeared as Charlotte Burns in one episode of ‘Karen’; as Peggy Durrance in one episode of ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ and as Jean/Janie in two episodes of 'Gidget'. Thereafter, she appeared as Dorie in three episodes of ‘Please Don’t Eat the Daisies’.
In 1966, she graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles. In the same year, she appeared as Janice in the ‘Herman's Sorority Caper’ episode of ‘The Munsters’.
In spite of enjoying relative success on the small screen, stage remained Franklin’s first love. In 1968, she secured a small role in a San Francisco production called ‘Your Own Thing’ and moved with the group to New York. There, she appeared in many Broadway and off-Broadway plays like ‘George M!’ (1969) and ‘Dames at Sea’ (1969).
In 1970, Bonnie Franklin received her stage breakthrough with ‘Applause’, a Broadway show, based on Mary Orr’s ‘The Wisdom of Eve'. The musical, in which she appeared as Bonnie, a gypsy, opened on March 30, 1970 at the Palace Theatre and closed on May 27, 1972 after 896 performances and four previews.
Although Franklin had a small part in ’Applause’, it earned her not only a Tony Award nomination, but also immense praise. She sang the title song ‘Applause’, which became the most successful Broadway song that season, overshadowing many others.
Concurrently with working in ‘Applause’, she did some small roles in other plays, such as ‘A Thousand Clowns’ in 1971. In 1973, she appeared in ‘Peter Pan’, and as Carrie Pepperidge in ‘Carousel’.
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In 1974, she returned to the television, appearing as Bobbie Stone in a TV film titled ‘The Law’. In the following year, she appeared as Rita in one episode of ‘Bronk’. Titled, ‘The Pick Off’, the episode was aired on November 23, 1975.
Rise to Stardom
Bonnie Franklin became a household name when she started appearing as Ann Romano, a divorced mother of two young daughters, in a CBS sitcom entitled ‘One Day at a Time’. First airing on December 16, 1975, the show ran for 209 episodes, with Franklin appearing in 208 of them. The show concluded on May 28, 1984.
Apart from working in ‘One Day at a Time’, she took up several other TV projects. In 1977, she appeared in the role of Stacy Skogstad in one episode of ‘The Love Boat’ (aired on September 24).
In 1978, she co-hosted ‘Hanna-Barbera's All-Star Comedy Ice Revue’, a live-action/animated television special, premiered on January 13. In this program, she sang ‘You Are My Lucky Star’ from ‘Broadway Melody of 1936’.
From 1978, Franklin began to appear in a number of television films. In 1978, she was seen in the role of Shirley in the television film, ‘A Guide for the Married Woman’. It was followed by ‘Breaking Up Is Hard to Do’ (1979), ‘Portrait of a Rebel: The Remarkable Mrs. Sanger’ (1980), ‘Your Place... or Mine’ (1983) and ‘Sister Margaret and the Saturday Night Ladies’ (1987).
In 1988, she returned to the stage, playing the titular role in ‘Annie Get Your Gun’. In the same year, she also appeared with Tony Musante in ‘Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune’, a two-character play by Terrence McNall at the Westside Arts Theatre in Manhattan.
In the 1990s, Franklin appeared in a few television series like ‘Hearts are Wild’ (1990), ‘Burke’s Law’ (1994), ‘Almost Perfect’ (1996) and ‘Touched by Angel’ (2000). However, theatre continued to be her priority, and she now began to devote much of her time to regional productions.
In 1997, she performed in the play ‘All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten’ at Ford's Theatre, Washington, D.C. Then in July 1998, she performed in the production of ‘Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ at the Pittsburgh Public Theater.
She founded Classic and Contemporary American Playwrights (CCAP) with her sister Judy in 2001. In the mid-2000s, while continuing to act in plays like ‘Toys in the Attic’ (2006-2007 season) and ‘Broadway Bound’ (2008), Franklin also appeared in a number of staged readings in Greater Los Angeles.
In 2011, she once again returned to television, appearing in one episode of ‘Hot Cleveland’, playing the mother of her ‘One Day at a Time’ co-star Valerie Bertinelli’s character’s boyfriend. In October 2011, she performed in the production of ‘Steel Magnolias’ at the Rubicon Theater, Ventura, California.
In August 2012, she appeared in 11 episodes of ‘The Young and the Restless’. This was her last television appearance because she was soon diagnosed with cancer and therefore had to slow down. She also had to cancel her scheduled appearance in the one-character play ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’, which was going to open in April 2013.
Bonnie Franklin is best remembered for her work in the sitcom ‘One Day at a Time’. Appearing as a divorced woman in her thirties, struggling to raise her teenage daughters and concurrently trying to build a new life, she infused a unique wisdom in the role. She received a TV Land Innovator Award for it, in addition to being nominated for Golden Globe and Emmy awards.
Family & Personal Life
On March 4, 1967, Bonnie Franklin married playwright Ronald Sossi. The marriage was short-lived, and their divorce was granted on February 15, 1970.
On August 31, 1980, she married film producer Marvin Minoff and remained married to him until his death on November 11, 2009. She had two stepchildren, Jed Minoff and Julie Minoff, from this marriage.
On September 24, 2012, Franklin was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She died on March 1, 2013, at her Los Angeles home and was buried next to Minoff at Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery. At the time of her death, she was 69 years old.