William Daniels, 95, Protected Wife of 71 Years from Burglar — He Was Her 1st Boyfriend & Makes Her Laugh Every Day
William Daniels was his wife Bonnie Bartlett’s first boyfriend, and he fell in love with her when he saw her at the back of an audition room.
At first, their marriage was fragile and could collapse at any given time, but they did everything to prevent this from happening.
For Bartlett’s sake, Daniels overcame his alcohol addiction.
Not so long ago, he protected their house from a burglar.
The pair are both in their 90s, but they still live happily and laugh every day.
Hollywood’s golden couple, William Daniels and Bonnie Bartlett, have been married for over seventy years. The lovebirds marked their 70th wedding anniversary on June 30, 2021.
Of their marriage that survived ups and downs, Bartlett admitted their union could not have made it through the woes in the first decade.
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.” Besides their longtime union, Bartlett and Daniels are well-known for being T.V. stars. The duo starred alongside each other as Dr. Mark and Ellen Craig on the 80s medical drama series, “St. Elsewhere,” which ran from 1982 to 1988. They also appeared as love interests in the 90s sitcom, “Boy Meets World,” as George Feeny and Lila Bolander-turned Feeny.
Bartlett, a native of Wisconsin, has a broad acting profile on television, in film, and on-stage, that spans seven decades. She starred in the beloved Western drama series, “Little House on the Prairie” which ran for nine seasons from 1974 to 1983.
She portrayed the long-lost mother of actors Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the famed movie, “Twins” and actor Tim Allen’s mom in the hit 90s sitcom “Home Improvement.”
Now in her nineties, the two-time Emmy Award winner still acts. Her current acting stint is in the critically acclaimed series, “Better Call Saul.”
Apart from appearing on the small screen, Bartlett decided to write about her long-lasting career and love story in her memoir, “Middle of The Rainbow.”
Bartlett & Daniels Are College Sweethearts
Bartlett met her beloved spouse Daniels while they were both studying acting at Northwestern University. Daniels revealed in December 2020 that he still vividly recalls the couple’s first interaction.
The twosome met in a class where there was a play, and he recounted fellow students auditioning. During that moment, he heard someone speaking at the back, and that particular individual caught his attention.
The actor remembered turning around to see who it was and caught his first glimpse of “this lovely blonde,” referencing his future wife, Bartlett, then 18 – who later blew him off:
“I waited for her at the door of the classroom 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.'”
Daniels later learned that Bartlett had already taken an interest in him before their first encounter. She discovered he was on Broadway and subtly followed him around on campus without him knowing.
She admitted this in a joint interview with her husband. The “Love Letters” star said she did not do it to be a “stalker” and revealed she never thought the New York native would fall 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.'”
Despite her misconceived idea, Bartlett and Daniels tied the knot in 1951. Daniels later starred in popular movies, including “The Graduate,” “The Blue Lagoon,” and “1776.”
Daniels is mainly known for his unique voice work as “K.I.T.T.” on the action-drama series, “Knight Rider,” between 1982 and 1986.
However, his role as Mr. Feeny in “Boy Meets World,” (1993-2000) arguably remains one of the most unforgettable stints of his successful acting career.
Moreover, he and his wife, who disclosed Daniels was her “first boyfriend,” have stayed together throughout his long career despite their challenges as a married couple.
Bartlett revealed that she and the two-time Emmy Award winner went through difficult times in their union. Still, she is thankful they endured such.
“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 television star stated that what mattered was going through the storm together and helping one another in the relationship. Bartlett added that lovers must show support for their partners and show them “respect” for what they do and, ultimately, be a united front.
The Couple Went through Trying Times in Their Marriage
In her book, Bartlett detailed how she and Daniels struggled as newlyweds, including having extramarital affairs in their marriage:
“I never felt tied to fidelity, and neither did Bill.”
Bartlett admitted to having “an affair that lasted a few months” with a fellow actor in 1959. However, she noted that Daniels’ affair with a producer in the early 1970s shattered her.
That not-so-good experience gave her a new perspective on their volatile relationship. At that stage, she said she “could no longer tolerate any kind of open marriage.”
Bartlett explained the couple’s union could have easily ended “at any time during those first 10 years,” if they had fallen for other people. Fortunately, it never reached that far:
“That was never part of it. Both of us wanted to be together. The love has never stopped.”
Even though the pair found themselves at crossroads, Bartlett stated ultimately, she and Daniels managed to salvage their marriage by making a move to Hollywood:
“Hollywood was the saving grace for our marriage because 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, it was a different story. Nobody wanted anything more than that.”
A decade after an emotionally taxing period, Daniels and Bartlett became first-time parents to son William Daniels Jr. in 1961. Sadly, the newborn died 24 hours after his birth. Bartlett and Daniels later adopted their second child, son Michael, in 1964, followed by their lastborn, Robert, in 1966.
When touching on the couple’s big move to Tinseltown, Bartlett revealed Daniels persuaded her to relocate when she was reluctant to do it. “It was a very tough time. I’d lost my niece,” she explained to People in January 2021.
Additionally, Bartlett said Daniels had started to drink a lot during that period and would even drink after work. She was often unsure he would make it back home, but he always did, to her surprise – yet he did not do away with his drinking habit.
According to Bartlett, Daniels became too obsessed with fame, saying, “He was into that whole I’m a star kind of thing. You know, he got into that.”
At that point, Bartlett admitted that she thought of leaving Daniels because she wanted no part in his addiction. At the same time, she felt conflicted about taking their kids away from him.
During that period, Daniels was in Los Angeles for work while Bartlett stayed behind in New York with their brood. Daniels recalled his parents helping him look for a new place as he thought of uprooting his family.
During those days, actors could be hired regardless of location as the companies would “transport you out here to do the show and back,” Daniels explained.
While home searching, his wife’s niece tragically died. “[..] I adored her. She was like a daughter to me,” the mother of three expressed.
The duo met up in Illinois for the funeral, where Daniels shared the news of finding a home for the family in L.A. with his spouse. However, he downplayed it and told Bartlett the abode would only be for the summer and that they would go back home to the Big Apple afterward.
The doting dad then introduced the mother of his kids to his agents, who took the opportunity to send Bartlett to casting calls, and she landed every one of them.
This played in Daniel’s favor as the more she bagged acting gigs, the more she began to see his vision for them. Eventually, Bartlett decided to stay.
She told her husband that she would reconsider the move but that she and the couple’s sons would be staying in N.Y. and would later come back to check out the house.
Bartlett and the children headed up to L.A. in the summer, and she and the boys had a blast. And because she was getting busier with the many acting opportunities she had been getting, she decided to stay in Hollywood.
The family of four’s decision to relocate came at an opportune time for Bartlett, who landed a role on “Little House on the Prairie.”
Moreover, the move worked wonders for the couple’s marriage. Bartlett and Daniels started to reconnect after she confessed to loathing him for months:
“[..] I sort of connected with him again. It took a little while – it took 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.”
They Are Now Happily Married in Their 72-Year Union
The couple still lives in their southern California home that Daniels bought for the family decades ago. Their adult sons, Michael and Robert, usually visit them and their many grandkids and relatives.
So far, Bartlett and Daniels have managed to lead private lives. The family matriarch credits the duo’s reluctance to accept random Hollywood invites over the years, except for what she deemed “very close, personal friends.”
Bartlett divulged she and her husband are in marital bliss in their home, where they do regular stuff 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 does Cameos mostly. And we do conventions and things like that.”
Daniels got candid about their relationship once. He explained 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.”
Daniels’ wife laughed off the statement and said he did not mean it. He then admitted to “making it up.” In addition, Bartlett revealed her beloved spouse brings joy into their home every day and shared what she liked about the veteran star:
“He makes me laugh. [..] His sense of humor and his ability every day to find something funny is really good for me because I’m very intense.”
The “Where Are My Children” actress praised the award-winning actor for his fatherhood skills: “He’s a great father.”Bartlett acknowledged being “very glad” that she was able to stay with the father of her kids despite their rollercoaster romance over the years:
“…we have had this long marriage, and now I’m totally, I mean, we totally respect and adore each other. We’re together all the time.”
In October 2018, the couple faced yet another challenge when there was an attempted burglary at their house. Police officers revealed the couple was at their San Fernando Valley home late in the evening when an intruder tried to kick in the back door.
In reaction, the family patriarch turned on the lights, scaring the burglar off the property. In response to Daniels’ quick thinking that resulted in a thwarted burglary, “Boy Meets World” co-star Willie Friedle tweeted:
“Don’t ever mess with Mr. Feeny! #LoveYouBillAndBonnie.”
There had previously been media reports of burglaries in the Hollywood duo’s neighborhood, with burglars targeting celebrities. However, law enforcement believed the attempted burglary was random. That said, Daniels, 95, and Bartlett, 93, upped their home security three days later and installed a new security system.