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Bonnie Franklin Remembered As Groundbreaking TV Pioneer

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Actress and humanitarian Bonnie Franklin, who died Friday morning at her Los Angeles home from complications due to pancreatic cancer, was hailed Friday as a pioneer in the world of television.

Franklin’s Ann Romano, lead of the 70s era CBS sitcom “One Day at a Time,” was one of the first realistic portrayals of a divorced woman who juggled career and family on television.

Franklin was 69.

One of her final appearances was a summer stint on CBS’ “The Young and the Restless,” where she played a no nonsense nun.

Franklin was always looking for roles that were outside the box and Ann Romano was no different — fearless, feisty, funny.

“She was the new normal, before that even existed,” says Karen Tongson, a professor of gender studies at USC.

No matter what the issue, and “One Day” tackled everything from May-December romance to teen suicide, Franklin did so with aplomb, says Tongson. “She always made the most realistic choices,” said Tongson.

And the professor believes Franklin helped usher feminism into the mainstream.

The show’s developer and producer Norman Lear — himself a TV pioneer — remembers Franklin’s spirit. “I was wrong. I thought life forces never die. Bonnie was such a life force. Bubbly, always up, the smile never left her face.”

Franklin was nominated for an Emmy and twice-nominated for a Golden Globe.

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