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William Daniels’ Wife of 7 Decades Was ‘Ready to Leave’ Him during ‘A Year of Really Hating Him'

Junie Sihlangu
Feb 03, 2022
09:40 P.M.
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William Daniels and his wife, Bonnie Bartlett, have experienced several tough times in their decades-long marriage. After ten years together, the pair welcomed their first child, a son, but he wasn't here to stay.

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Bonnie Bartlett and her husband, William Daniels, have been married for an impressive 70 years! During their long-term marriage, the famous couple welcomed three sons.

Sadly, one of the boys didn't make it after birth, and the couple has had some severe ups and downs, but their will to make things work is admirable. Below, we get to know more about this power couple.

Bonnie Bartlett and  William Daniels during an interview, and the couple on an episode of "St. Elsewhere" as Doctor Mark and Ellen Craig | Photos: Jack Hamilton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

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BEGINNING OF A DECADES-LONG LOVE STORY

William met his future wife, Bartlett, at Northwestern University in Chicago before dating. During a past Television Academy Foundation, the pair discussed the first time they acted together in the play "Bury the Dead" and how they connected.

William was the head of the union, and his wife described herself as a "tough lady." Then in another play called "Dark in the Moon," the actress had to sing but didn't believe in her vocal capabilities and enlisted William's help.

Bonnie Bartlett and William Daniels meet fans as he signs copies of "There I Go Again: How I Came To Be Mr. Feeny, John Adams, Dr. Craig, KITT and Many Others" on March 2, 2017, in New York City | Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images

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She recalled how the actor assisted Bartlett in the basement of the freshman dorm, Willard Hall. While the pair was down there rehearsing, that's when things "got a little physical," with William initiating a kiss.

The incident got Bartlett in trouble, and she was called to the dean's office, where she was confronted. The dean thought William was a bad influence on the actress and wanted to know if her parents should be called in.

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The star pretended to feel bad about the incident, but she and the "Boy Meets World" actor carried on with their love affair. During a past CBS Los Angeles interview, the couple revealed that they had known each other three years before their June 30, 1951, wedding.

THE BARTLETT-DANIELS BROOD

Ten years after the pair tied the knot, they finally welcomed their first child, son William Daniels Jr. Sadly, the little boy wasn't meant to be around for a long time and passed away 24 hours later.

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However, Bartlett and William were determined to be parents. The Emmy Award-winning actors welcomed two sons via adoption, Michael and Robert Daniels, in 1964 and 1966, respectively.

The couple faced one incident after having their two sons when Robert went missing while they were at a New York public beach. Bartlett was paralyzed with fear, but a woman (who remained her friend) comforted her by telling the star that no one would take the child.

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The woman actually offered to find the little boy while the actress stayed put, and fifteen minutes later, the stranger returned with a police car and Bartlett's son. The actress confessed that it was a horrible incident, adding that it was devastating for a parent to experience.

Despite some challenging times here and there with the children, Bartlett described her husband as an impressive parent. During a January 2021 People interview, the actress shared that William was a great father.

This was illustrated on March 6, 2018, when William shared an image of him with his two sons having fun and playing golf together. In the caption, he revealed that his sons said they got their skills from him.

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"I WANT NO PART OF THIS"

As the "St. Elsewhere" actor and his wife prepare to celebrate their 71st wedding anniversary this June, the truth was that she almost left him. Speaking to People in 2017, Bartlett said she was "ready to leave" William after the death of her niece, who was like a daughter to her.

He [William Daniels] joked that he thought she [Bonnie Bartlett] was smarter and a better actor than him but they tried to get along.

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She recalled how he'd insisted that they move to Hollywood at that time, and she didn't want to. Then the actor started drinking a lot, and sometimes his wife didn't know whether he would return home or not, with her noting:

"And I thought, 'I want no part of this.’ I was very confused because there was no way I wanted to take the boys away from him. No way. And so I thought, well — I was pondering it.”

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However, she moved with him after visiting Los Angeles for the summer and seeing a house William had found. The "Little House on the Prairie," actress reconnected again with her husband during that time.

The progression to get to that point wasn't quick because she'd spent "about a year of really hating him." What changed for Bartlett was working, living in a valley, and finding a nice school for the children.

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Despite all the hardships, the actress was "very glad — I've always been very glad — that I stayed" with William. The couple shares a love that is like no other, and that's what has kept them going for so long.

WHAT THEY LOVE ABOUT EACH OTHER

Speaking to Forbes in January 2021, William said one of the things that made their relationship last was the fact that they had mutual respect. He joked that he thought she was smarter and a better actor than him, but they tried to get along.

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Bartlett loved "The Graduate" star's sense of humor and how he made her laugh daily, which was good for her because she was pretty intense. The actress appreciated her choice to stay with him, stating:

"And that 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."

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Some of the shows and films that William is famous for include "Knight Rider," "Blind Ambition," "Trapper John, M.D.," "The American Revolution," and he also reprised his role as Mr. Feeny on the "Girl Meets World" series.

His wife is equally a star with over 100 acting credits in shows and movies like "Grey's Anatomy," "General Hospital," "Parks and Recreation," "NCIS," "Gunsmoke," "The Golden Girls," and "Better Call Saul."

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