William Daniels was the first boyfriend of his wife, Bonnie Bartlett, and he fell in love with her when he spotted her in the back of an audition room. William Daniels eventually became his wife.
Their marriage was initially fragile and could have ended, but they did everything possible to prevent this.
Daniels conquered his addiction to alcohol for the sake of his friend Bartlett.
A burglar tried to break into their home not long ago, but he was prevented.
Even though they are both in their 90s, the couple continues to enjoy life together and laugh daily.
The longest couple in the history of Hollywood, William Daniels and Bonnie Bartlett have been together for more than seventy years. On June 30, 2021, the tragic couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.
Bartlett agreed that their union could not have survived the difficulties they faced in the first ten years of their marriage, even though they could weather the storms that came their way.
Actor William Daniels and his actress-wife Bonnie Bartlett celebrate their Emmy Awards backstage at the Emmy Awards show on September 21, 1986, in Pasadena, California. ┃Source: Getty Images
“You have to realize that we live in a very puritanical nation still,” said the veteran actress, who admitted it took a while for her and her husband “to get to a real companionship marriage.”
Bartlett and Daniels are well-known for their roles as television stars, in addition to the fact that they have been married for a long time. On the medical drama series “St. Elsewhere,” which aired in the 1980s and ran from 1982 to 1988, the two actors played off each other as Dr. Mark and Ellen Craig, respectively.
In the 1990s sitcom “Boy Meets World,” they both had guest appearances as love interests, playing the roles of George Feeny and Lila Bolander-turned-Feeny, respectively.
Pictured: (Back Row L-R) Ed Begley Jr. as Dr. Victor Ehrlich, Christina Pickles as Nurse Helen Rosenthal, David Morse as Dr. Jack Morrison, Sagan Lewis as Dr. Jacqueline Wade (Middle Row L-R) Norman Lloyd as Dr. Daniel Auschlander, Eric Laneuville as Luther Hawkins, Jennifer Savidge as nurse Lucy Papandrao, Stephen Furst as Dr. Elliot Axelrod, Alfre Woodard as Dr. Roxanne Turner (Front L-R) Ed Flanders as Dr. Donald Westphall, William Daniels as Dr. Craig, Bonnie Bartlett as Ellen Craig in the medical series, “St. Elsewhere” ┃Source: Getty Images
Bartlett, born and raised in Wisconsin, has an extensive acting career spanning the past seven decades and includes roles in television, cinema, and on stage. She was a main cast member on the acclaimed Western drama series “Little House on the Prairie,” which aired from 1974 to 1983 and spanned nine seasons.
She is most known for her roles as the long-lost mother of Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the popular film “Twins,” as well as the mother of Tim Allen in the critically acclaimed sitcom “Home Improvement” from the 1990s.
Bonnie Bartlett as Grace Snider and actor Victor French as Isaiah Edwards in the drama series “Little House on the Prairie” on October 2, 1974┃Source: Getty Images
Even though she’s in her nineties, the actress who has won two Emmy awards is still active in the industry. Her most recent role is in the television series “Better Call Saul,” which has received positive reviews from critics.
Bartlett wrote about her long-lasting career and love story in her memoir, “Middle of the Rainbow,” rather than only acting on the small screen.
Bartlett and Daniels first met in college.
While both attending Northwestern University for their acting education, Bartlett met the man who would become her beloved spouse, Daniels. Daniels disclosed in December 2020 that he remembered the couple’s initial meeting clearly.
They became acquainted in a class putting on a play, and he described how other students tried out for the role. Around that time, he heard somebody talking in the back, and the person who was talking caught his interest.
William Daniels as Doctor Mark Craig and Bonnie Bartlett as Ellen Craig on “St. Elsewhere” on April 12, 1983 ┃Source: Getty Images
The actor recalled turning around to see who it was and catching his first glimpse of “this lovely blonde.” He was referring to Bartlett, his future wife, who was 18 years old at the time and who rejected him later on:
“I waited for her at the classroom door until she came by. And I said, ‘How about a cup of coffee?’ And she said, ‘You’re too short.’ I said, ‘Come on, have a cup of coffee.’ She said, ‘OK.'”
Once some time had passed, Daniels found out that Bartlett had already taken an interest in him before the two of them had their first meeting. She learned he was working on Broadway and quietly followed him about campus without making him aware.
This was something that she revealed during an interview that she did with her spouse. The actress from “Love Letters” insisted that she was not trying to be a “stalker” and revealed that she had never believed the New York native would develop feelings for her:
“True, I didn’t want to [be] a stalker. I didn’t want to interfere with his life, and I never thought for a minute he’d be interested in me. So, when I said, ‘You’re too short,’ I thought, ‘Oh no, we’re wrong. You don’t want me.'”
Bonnie Bartlett as Vanessa Raven on the daytime drama series “Love of Life “┃Source: Getty Images
Despite her wrong assertion, Bartlett and Daniels got married the following year in 1951. Later in his career, Daniels became a star in several successful films, such as “The Graduate,” “The Blue Lagoon,” and “1776.”
Daniels is primarily recognized for his unique performance as “K.I.T.T.” on the television series “Knight Rider,” which aired between 1982 and 1986.
On the other hand, many people think that his role as Mr. Feeny in the popular T.V. show “Boy Meets World,” which ran from 1993 to 2000, was one of the most memorable things he did as an actor.
William Daniels as Dr. Mark Craig and Bonnie Bartlett as Ellen Craig in “St. Elsewhere” on November 27, 1985┃Source: Getty Images
In addition, he and his wife, who revealed that Daniels was her “first boyfriend,” have also stayed together throughout his lengthy career despite their difficulties as a married couple. Daniels was his wife’s “first boyfriend.”
Bartlett admitted in her interview that she and the two-time Emmy Award winner struggled through challenging periods in their marriage. Despite this, she is grateful that they went through it.
“We just had to go through all that, and still, we loved each other very much and always have. [We] have always been there for each other,” said Bartlett.
The famous television personality said that the most important thing in a relationship is to stick together and support one another through difficult times. Bartlett went on to say that lovers need to demonstrate support for their relationships and “respect” for what their partners do and that, ultimately, they need to be a united front.
The Marriage Struggled Through Difficult Days for the Two of Them
In her book, Bartlett details the difficulties she and Daniels faced as newlyweds, including the fact that both of them had extramarital affairs while they were married:
“I never felt tied to fidelity, and neither did Bill.”
William Daniels as Dr. Mark Craig and Bonnie Bartlett as Ellen Craig in “St. Elsewhere” on May 20, 1987┃Source: Getty Images
In 1959, Bartlett acknowledged that he had “an affair that lasted a few months” with a co-worker who was also an actress. Yet, she mentioned that Daniels’ romance with a producer in the early 1970s broke her. She said that it occurred during that time.
She gained fresh insight into the fragile nature of their relationship due to that terrible experience. She had reached that point when she declared that she “could no longer tolerate any kind of open marriage.”
Bartlett noted that the couple’s marriage could have easily ended at any time during those first 10 years “if one had found themselves romantically interested in other people. To our great good fortune, it never got that far:
“That was never part of it. Both of us wanted to be together. The love has never stopped.”
William Daniels as Dr. Mark Craig and Bonnie Bartlett as Ellen Craig in “St. Elsewhere” ┃Source: Getty Images
Even though the couple found themselves at a split in the road, Bartlett noted that ultimately, she and Daniels were able to save their marriage by moving to Hollywood:
“Hollywood was the saving grace for our marriage because it was a different story once we got to Hollywood, and we were here and living like a normal family and having weekends at home with our kids and doing things. Nobody wanted anything more than that.”
In 1961, Daniels and Bartlett welcomed their first child, a son named William Daniels Jr., into the world after enduring an emotionally trying period over the previous ten years. Unfortunately, the newborn passed away exactly one day after his birth.
Later on, in 1964, Bartlett and Daniels adopted their second child, a son named Michael. Two years later, in 1966, they adopted their third and last child, Robert.
When discussing the significant shift the pair made to Hollywood, Bartlett claimed that Daniels convinced her to relocate even though she was hesitant. “It was a very tough time. I’d lost my niece,”
In addition, according to Bartlett, Daniels had been drinking considerably more during that period and would continue drinking even after work. She frequently doubted that he would be able to return home safely, but to her amazement, he always did so even though he did not kick his drinking habit.
Bartlett asserts that Daniels had an unhealthy obsession with celebrities, stating, “He was into that whole I’m a star kind of thing. You know, he got into that.”
At that time, Bartlett came clean and said she had entertained ending her relationship with Daniels because she did not want any part in his addiction. At the same time, she had mixed emotions toward the prospect of taking their children away from him.
During that time, Daniels was working in Los Angeles, so Bartlett was left in New York to take care of their children by themselves. Daniel was away for three months. When Daniels considered moving his family to a new location, he recalled that his parents had helped him look for a new home.
Since the company would “transport you out here to do the show and back,” Daniels added that actors could be recruited back then regardless of where they lived.
The terrible death of his wife’s niece occurred while they were searching for their home. “[..] I adored her. She was like a daughter to me,” the mother of three conveyed her feelings about the former relationship.
All parties got together in Illinois for the funeral, where Daniels broke the news that he and his wife had located a suitable home for the family in Los Angeles. But he played it down, telling Bartlett that they would only stay at the abode for the summer and then return to their apartment in New York.
After that, the doting father introduced the mother of his children to his agents, and his agency took the chance to send Bartlett to casting calls, where she was ultimately successful in all of them.
This worked to Daniel’s benefit since the more acting jobs she landed, the more she started to understand his vision for her roles. Bartlett decided to stay in the end.
William Daniels as George Feeny and Bonnie Bartlett as Lila Feeny in “Boy Meets World” on April 9, 1999┃Source: Getty Images
She informed her husband that she would think about the move again but that she and the couple’s sons would continue to live in New York soon, intending to return to look at the house later.
During the summer, Bartlett took the children on a trip to Los Angeles, where she and the boys had a wonderful time. In addition, she decided to remain in Hollywood because the increasing number of acting opportunities she was being presented with kept her very busy.
Bartlett secured a job at “Little House on the Prairie” just after the family of four chose to relocate. This was fortunate timing for Bartlett.
In addition, the move was hugely helpful for the couple’s marriage. After she admitted that she had disliked him for a few months, Bartlett and Daniels began to get back in touch with one another:
“[..] I connected with him again. It took a little while –about a year of hating him.”
Of that confession, Daniels responded to his wife: “I wasn’t aware of that,” while Bartlett stated: “Well, you were, but you weren’t.”
In their 72nd year of marriage, they finally found happiness together.
The Daniels family still resides in the southern California home that Daniels bought for the family many years ago. Their grown sons, Michael and Robert, usually visit them, bringing many grandchildren and other relatives.
Both Bartlett and Daniels have, up until this point, been successful in leading very discreet lives. The family matriarch is why the couple didn’t accept invitations to random Hollywood events during their careers unless they were from people she considered to be “very close, personal friends.”
Bartlett revealed that she and her husband are in marital bliss at home, doing normal things to keep themselves busy. Most importantly, they enjoy being in each other’s company:
“We’re very happy. We sit in this house, and we do things. He reads his New York Times, and he mostly does cameos. And we do conventions and things like that.”
Once, Daniels discussed their relationship openly and honestly. He went on to explain: it is “based on mutual respect, and I think she is smarter than me, a better actor than me, and so I just hang on,[..], and try to get along.”
Bonnie Bartlett and William Daniels visit Hallmark’s “Home & Family” at Universal Studios Hollywood on October 25, 2017, in Universal City, California┃Source: Getty Images.
The statement was met with laughter from Daniels’s wife, who insisted that he did not mean what he said. After then, he stated that he had “made it up.” In addition, Bartlett disclosed that her adoring hubby is the source of daily happiness in their home, and she described the qualities that she admires most in the experienced actress:
“He makes me laugh. [..] His sense of humor and his daily ability to find something funny is good for me because I’m very intense.”
The actress known for her role in “Where Are My Children?” lauded the award-winning actor for his abilities as a father: “He’s a great father.”
Bartlett admitted that she was “very glad” that she was able to remain with the man who was the father of her children despite the ups and downs that their relationship had experienced over the years:
“…we have had this long marriage, and now I’m total; we respect and adore each other. We’re together all the time.”
In October 2018, the couple was put to the test again when they attempted to break into their home. Officers found out the couple was at their home in the San Fernando Valley late at night when someone tried to break in through the back door.
In retaliation, the family patriarch triggered the lighting system, which forced the burglar to flee the property. Willie Friedle, who also stars in “Boy Meets World,” tweeted the following in response to Daniels’ quick thinking, which led to what was a burglary:
“Don’t ever mess with Mr. Feeny! #LoveYouBillAndBonnie.”
There were earlier reports in the media of burglaries in the Hollywood duo’s area, with the burglars targeting celebrities. These burglaries were reported to have occurred.
But, law enforcement was under the impression that the attempted break-in was random. Having said that, Daniels, who is 95 years old, and Bartlett, who is 93 years old, increased the security of their home three days later and installed a new security system.
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