Mr. Feeny Actor William Daniels, Wife Bonnie Bartlett Had “Very Painful” Open Marriage

"We've been happy together and sad together, and somehow stayed together for seven decades"

william daniels bonnie bartlett mr. feeny boy meets world open marriage very painful
Bonnie Bartlett Daniels and William Daniels, photo by David Livingston/Getty Images

    William Daniels, Mr. Feeny on Boy Meets World, has been married to actor Bonnie Bartlett Daniels for 72 years — not all of them monogamous. As the 93-year-old Bartlett Daniels relates in her new memoir Middle of the Rainbowthe pair opened their marriage in what became a “very painful” period in their lives.

    “I guess it was a little bit of an open marriage at first, but that was very painful,” Bartlett Daniels said in an interview with Fox News Digital. “That didn’t work well. And it was a time when people were doing that. It was at a time in New York when there was a lot of sex and a lot of people doing all kinds of things, you know – very free. But I don’t know if there was a lack of commitment a little bit, and that’s not good. So there was a lot of pain connected with any transgression, with any extramarital thing.”

    Daniels and Bartlett Daniels starred together on St. Elsewhere, and in 1986 they both won Emmy Awards on the same night. By that time they were a rock-solid power couple, though they had to overcome some issues to get to that point. In 1959, she had “an affair that lasted a few months” with a “slightly boring” actor, with whom “the sex was good.”


    “I never felt guilty because I never felt tied to fidelity, and neither did Bill,” she wrote in her memoir. But tension rose in the 1970s when her husband had a fling with a female producer that left her “devastated.” Afterwards, she realized, she “could no longer tolerate any kind of open marriage.”

    “It was very painful for the both of us,” the now-93-year-old recalled. “But it was something we had to go through because we never went through it. When we got together I was 18. Bill was my first boyfriend… 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. That’s what matters — if you’re there for the person and help [them] along in a relationship, [have] respect for them and what they’re doing and being there for them… [You have to] be together on the other side.”

    As she explained, the couple “grew up.”

    “Bill and I have moved forward day-by-day and eventually, the days added up,” she wrote. “We’ve been happy together and sad together, and somehow stayed together for seven decades.”


    The couple continue to live together both happily and safely — at least as long as the 95-year-old Daniels is around. A few years ago, at the age of 91, he scared off burgler from the couple’s shared home.