Saturday, June 30, 2018
Dorothy Baxter, Meet Ann Romano
Written out of the series in 1965, Miss Blake continued to act periodically, but also brought to light other gifts. She hosted a local talk show, Boutique, on Los Angeles' KCBS-TV. And in 1975, she attained new recognition as co-creator of the CBS sitcom One Day at a Time. It depicted family life quite differently than Hazel. The premise -- a divorced woman raising children -- came from her own experience. Not only had she been a child of divorce, but she went on to be a single mother to her own kids (including daughter Meredith Baxter) after splitting from her first husband.
It was a situation that TV up until then had mostly ignored. "This country swarms with divorced women having to be both mother and father to their children," she told the Los Angeles Times' Cecil Smith in 1975. "But as far is television is concerned, they don't exist." Blake and her third husband Allan Manings, who was then producing Good Times, successfully pitched the concept to Norman Lear. The result was a hit show that ran nine years.
Whitney Blake died of esophageal cancer in 2002, but she is remembered for the way she helped depict family life on classic TV -- both as actress and writer. For more on Hazel and its cast, please see my book Shirley Booth: A Biography and Career Record.